THE BLOG

Why School Holidays Infringe Consumer Rights

18/08/2011 14:43 | Updated 17 October 2011

We broke the back of it folks. Us teachers are officially over half way through our summer holiday. For some of us we have just two weeks left of rest and relaxation. Some of us have already been into school a number of times this holiday. Most of us went into school to watch our graduating students collect their A Level and will do the same again next week for the GCSE results. My point is, teacher's are 'sold' the profession with holidays in mind. However, if school holidays were shoes we would return them as faulty.

Before I continue, I want to apologise to anyone who isn't in the teaching profession for stumbling upon this post. It's written by a teacher, therefore it has issues that some 'civilians' may find disturbing.

Your consumer rights are sacred. Do school holidays break these consumer rights? You have the right that purchased items be:

• of satisfactory quality - last for the time you would expect it to and be free of any defects (Well it lasts for the advertised time period but free from defects?)
• fit for purpose - fit for the use described and any specific use you made clear to the trader (Not fit for use described, I'll come on to that in a minute)
• as described - match the description on packaging or what the trader told you (Fails spectacularly on this point, see below)

It's the last one that strikes me as the most pertinent. Imagine, Michael Gove as a salesman peddling insurance (which is probably doing a disservice to such salesman). In his dry, scottish patter, he informs you that, with this exclusive, sort after, insurance package that he is selling you, you could take a payment holiday. You then discover that when you chose to take this agreed upon holiday he hits you with the unmentioned fine print. While you are taking your holiday, you are still required to make small put significant payment contributions. These contributions place a strain on the delicate nature of your finances and mental wellbeing.

This, I'm sorry to say, is exactly what most teachers experience during holidays. School holidays preclude the very definition of holiday. A holiday is defined as 'a time or period of exemption from requirement, duty, assessment. I, like my fellow professionals, have spent a stupid amount of time organising work for next term. Furthermore, students aren't except from completing work during these periods. As such, we might need to come up with another name for school holidays.

While it's true that teachers have time off from teaching students, it would be wrong to say that they have 13 weeks off a year. With mounting expectations for further improvement in exam results and the need now to not only teach but to entertain, not having a 'holiday' means that even more pressure is being placed on teachers.

My message for future, would-be teachers? Well the USP of teaching are the holidays and if we're not going to change the name, I suppose the solution would be, like when buying anything, read the small print.