STUDENTS
15/02/2012 07:01 GMT | Updated 23/07/2015 06:59 BST

Michael Gove's Proposed Changes To School Hours Are 'Condescending To Teachers'

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Michael Gove Saying Teachers Should Work Longer Hours 'Condescending' And Out Of Touch

Michael Gove's proposal to extend school hours in a bid to benefit poorer children have been slammed as "condescending" by a teacher.

The education secretary recently said teachers should welcome the touted initiative, which would see school days extended and summer holidays cut.

"If you [teachers] love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well," he said at the time.

But, when questioned in a poll by Teacher Support Network in 2010, 96% of teaching staff, school leaders and lecturers said their current workload had a negative effect on their health and wellbeing.

Gove's comments prompted one teacher, Emily*, who teaches reception children in Suffolk, to ask whether the minister had "even spent more than 10 minutes in school?".

She told The Huffington Post UK that Gove "has absolutely no understanding of what a teacher does on a daily basis".

"What Gove doesn't seem to understand is the hours teachers put in outside of school time.

"In the hours between teaching and home most teachers are marking, running after school clubs or in meetings.

"When teachers get home most spend a further two to three hours planning, preparing and assessing lessons. Then at weekends most people spend part of the time getting everything ready for the next week. Going away for the weekend becomes a logistical nightmare."

Emily, who has worked in non-teaching jobs longer than she has been a teacher, says she remembers working in an office job where "I would turn the computer off at 5.30 on Friday and not think about work until nine on a Monday morning".

"With teaching," she adds, "you never stop thinking about it.

"His comments make me think he has never met a teacher. Does he honestly think we walk out of the door at 3.30pm and go home only to walk back in at 9am?"

Emily, whose school has broken up for half term, says the week is a much need mental break.

"It allows me to have some time where I am not a teacher. I love my job. I don't want to do another job. Nothing else gives you the sense of achievement of seeing a child grow, progress and succeed but the holidays allow me to stop."

"Teaching is emotionally exhausting. Most people don't appreciate the emotional investment a teacher has in the class, especially in primary school.

"When you have nurtured these children and seen them grow….I cry at the end of each year because I feel I am sending them off into the big wide world. The holidays are needed for an emotional break."

But, most importantly, she describes the impact of longer days and shorter holidays for the people who this is all really about: the children.

"They have been forgotten here. When would they see their parents? When do they play?

"Ultimately," she concludes, "I cannot see what can be gained from doing this other than providing free child care.

"Which is something we teachers are at pains to point out we do not do."

*Emily's name has been changed to preserve her anonymity.