Monday, April 30, 2007

No Windsurfing Allowed

Several years ago as a young teacher I knocked on the Headmaster's door, went in and sat down, exchanged a few pleasantries then asked if I could have Wednesday afternoon off to go windsurfing.

As his eyes widened I explained how I just could not get the hang of that turn where you move to the back of the board, pull the sail round and try to go into the wind. I just fell in every time. A friend would be free that day and with his help and a few hours practice maybe I could get the hang of it.

Think of it as personal development, I added hopefully.

Ignoring his look of utter disbelief, I explained that Mrs. Jones had been allowed an afternoon off last Xmas to watch her son take part in a Nativity play, Mrs. Smithson had been off last week to look after her daughter who was ill and Miss Wade was away pretty much permanently. I had never had a day off for anything, so come on, just one afternoon...

Mr. Morris told me not to be so ridiculous and chucked me out.

"You just can't" was his final reply.

What's the daftest thing anyone has actually been allowed time off for at your school?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dog Dancing! I'm not kidding, one woman was allowed a day off this year to go and either do it or watch her doggy do it. (I don't know exactly what goes on) Don't think she lost a day's pay either.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. I can get my head round the idea of someone needing time off to care for a SICK child, but time off to attend nativity plays, sports days, etc. makes me want to scream. Send a spouse/grandparent/friend for heaven's sake!

Jo said...

My parents were both teachers, and I don't remember either of them ever coming to my sports day in primary school. Not that I would have wanted them to. I think they sometimes came to watch me perform in assembly, but I'm sure that would only have been if they had a free period, or during breaktime - my primary school was next door to the secondary school they taught at. When I was little my Mum felt really bad taking time off work if I was sick (and equally bad going into school and leaving me with friends) so in the end they hired a maid so there was always someone home (at which time my Mum went full-time, having been part-time before).

dexey said...

Hand up time.
I once had 12 afternoons off to attend poetry writing classes to help me with stress.
To be fair, it served a good purpose. I'd already told the head that I was near to snapping him in half.
I wrote a lot of very aggressive poetry and thoroughly enjoyed my Wednesdays.

Anonymous said...

oh you've got me on a good one here!! As a single, unmarried teacher with no children .. why should I have to cover someone elses class to allow them to attend their child's sports day??? The staff meetings, CPD times etc etc are all arranged round about teachers with kids .... dare I use the word ... discrimination

Anonymous said...

Why should I pay taxes towards the health service to help pay for your treatment if you got ill and I was perfectly healthy? Why should I cover your lesson if you break your leg playing football, and I don't play football? Of course I should. It's "swings and roundabouts" isn't it? Who knows when you'll need to cooperation of colleagues so you shouldn't moan about helping out. As teachers we should appreciate how important parenting is and taking an active part in your childs school life.
Maybe when you have kids you may appreciate how precious times like nativity plays are. This year I was absolutely gutted at the thought that I may not get the experience of taking my son in for his first day in reception. Fortunately for me it worked out that I could do it.

I think people need to look at the bigger picture - some people take a few hours off for their childrens special times but never take any time sick, whereas someone with no kids could be off sick with a cold for week and the parent covers for them.

Sorry for waffling - this kind of selfish attitude really annoys me.

Anonymous said...

My mate Andy has spent every afternoon windsurfing since he qualified in 1991. And he gets points for it.

Meanwhile when I told my headteacher, at interview, that caring for my disabled child might make me late for work every now and then, he smiled and said it wouldn't be a problem...

...and then started disciplinary proceedings against me for it 12 months later.

And a colleague of mine once got 2 days off work, on full pay, to care for her daughter (who had just been excluded from the same school for beating the crap out of another pupil.)

Ed said...

There will always be the odd counter example but statistically, those who have children have far more time away from school than those who don't.

People who can't or don't have children feel resentment when they aren't allowed time off for things they consider important, but they still have to cover for teachers taking time off to see their children do a variety of activities non parents would consider trivial.

Oh and I don't believe anonymous' example of 'Andy' who is allowed to go windsurfing every afternoon. Come on, no teacher would get away with that. Oh hang on he's not a school teacher, he's a winsurfing instructor. Now I get it.

Anonymous said...

Before I got married and had kids my solution to this was easy. A friend from abroad in the country for only two days? - call in sick. Wanted an extra day in Paris at the end of halfterm - called school from London on Monday morning to say I wouldn't be in because I had a stomach upset. I was back to work on Tuesday.

I'm teaching somewhere now where we have a specific number of sick and 'personal' days, I have yet to use any personal days, as I use sick days instead. (May backfire on me if I need the sick days for short-term disability but that's the risk I take.) At the end of the year if I haven't used my personal days I'll get paid for not taking them :-)

I probably won't go to all my own kids' school events this year though - not because I couldn't call in sick/take a personal day, or because colleagues would have to cover for me (they wouldn't) but because it feels like I have little enough time as it is with some of the kids I teach.

muso-tim said...

My best one (two years ago) was to go on a Familiarisation trip. My county had just changed all their terms to make them roughly equal length, putting half-term a week later than everyone else. The fam trip was going in evreyone else's half-term. I got a week off school to go. Have to do a fam trip or the EVC won't sign it off.

Oh yes, I forgot to say where! It was Barbados.

Anonymous said...

One of the teachers at my child's primary school was studying to be a "teacher of excellence". Unfortunately she devoted so much time to it that one of the parents kept a diary of her attendance (for example one week, she was only teaching for half a day) which the parent was going to present to the governors (the SMT found out and said that is was disrespectful of the parent). The teacher resigned and left for another school soon after...

Julie said...

Far too many teachers with kids want to be paid a full time wage for doing a part time job.

Their kids provide an excuse for anything, be it time off, missed meetings, deadlines or whatever. I'm glad Chalk's brought this up as it's another taboo subject.

If I phoned in and said I couldn't come in today because I was hungover and had been out dancing until 3 am then I'd be in trouble but if I phoned in and said that my child needed to go to the doctor's then there would be sympathy. However both cases are lifestyle choices and we should face up to this.

Anonymous said...

If people didn't make this "lifestyle choice" that you mention - then there would be no issue here to discuss - you'd be out of a job!!!

Parents have children - children go to school - you teach in a school - hence you need parents for your continuing employment!!!
That's just the price you have to pay.

How on earth you can call having kids a "lifestyle choice" is beyond me. In case you hadn't noticed, if people didn't have kids then the human race would die out.

Also to the poster who said
"There will always be the odd counter example but statistically, those who have children have far more time away from school than those who don't"
- could you please let me know the source of these interesting statistics as I would be interested in looking at them.

Anonymous said...

Pah! Teachers are paid to look after other people's kids, not their own!

Some folks have no sense of duty ;)

lilyofthefield said...

One of our teachers has been formally reprimanded for not attending a twilight session owing to a prior engagement at Old Trafford. I happen to know he has a ticket for the AC Milan game so am looking forward to seeing what excuse he is offering for taking the whole day off tomorrow.

H said...

I think it's pretty obvious that having children is a lifestyle choice isn't it? It is something you choose to do.

Imagine two teachers; one has lots of hobbies or interests and would dearly like time off on rare occasions to attend events which happen to be on a school day, but they are not allowed to.

The other has three children and is allowed time off to watch them in their Nativity Play, Carol Concert, Sports day, first day at school or whatever.

It's hardly suprising that there is resentment.

delroy said...

H said...
It's hardly suprising that there is resentment.
08:51

I'm not resentful and I have never had time off for any of my four kids, but then I'm male and have a wife to do that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm lucky enough to have a decent SMT who recognise that when people are behind their desk at 7.30 in the morning and rarely leave until 6 o'clock in addition to running trips, DofE, football teams etc. in their own time, it's perfectly reasonable for them to ask for the odd hour or half day now and then if it's for good reason. A bit of give and take goes a long way towards good morale. Generally colleagues will chip in to cover someone in these circumstances as they know that they can expect the same in return.

Any head who doesn't want to be a little flexible when staff submit a reasonable request for some time out to take care of a personal matter should be reminded of what would happen to their school if everyone worked to rule- i.e. in at 9 and out at 3.30. No after school clubs or sports teams, no coursework catchup sessions, no chess clubs, no trips out, only one meeting per week etc.

cramerj said...

If you have sufficient teachers it would soon be more practical to not give them time of but to employ say :-
a nurse 'child doctor appointment' watchoverer.
a 'unsupported child' parent simulaculum (?) to cheer the unwatched child on.
This could be a whole new genre of school support staff.

Anonymous said...

I don't think its unreasonable to expect an occasional time off if you have children who need you and you don't have the luxury of family living nearby to help out.

Maybe parents just shouldn't work but I respect those that do rather than sit at home and claim benefits instead. They are atleast contributing towards taxes etc...

Working parents also give their children a work ethic. Their is structure to the day, discipline and routine required. (no disrespect to parents who do choose to stay at home)

Remember when you have children you are a long time bringing them up and its not always financially viable to stay at home for 15 years. (even if you did plan that)

I too believe that if children are to turn out half decent then they need time spent with them and input from their parents. If they don't get that vital input they turn into rebellious, disrespectful louts very much similar to the ones we teach and thats a problem for the whole of society then.

Ever heard of swings and roundabouts? If you have to cover someone cos they've got a need to be elsewhere for their children, then don't forget 10 years down the line their children will be grown up and you may have children and be the one who they have to cover. Its called teamwork.

Not forgetting we reap what we sow. So if society is not prepared to help each other out on anything then we end up with a fractured, broken down, selfish, society. Hmmmmm ring any bells?
Maybe thats whats wrong with society. Lets have a bit more community spirit from you lot out there.

Anonymous said...

A lot of take from some sections of the staffroom and not a lot of give!! "Sorry I can't help you, I have child care to think about.." so much for helping each other out. The staff at my school who are fully involved in the life of the school, those who are in early and leave late, those who run the after school care and clubs .... they are the teachers and staff without children! We are always making concessions for those with kids - if you can't do the job properly ..... don't expect others to do it for you!

Anonymous said...

If schools expect parents of their pupils to take time off work to attend events in the school day then they should allow their own staff to do the same. However, the windsurfing request sounded reasonable to me. May bethat's why I'm not a headteacher.

Maggie said...

I live in Asia and it is interesting how family (and children) is viewed differently. But it also interesting how people can ask for days off.

Kimpatsu said...

When I was at school in the early 80s, one teacher who was a follower of the Baghwan (and convicted fraudster) Shri Rajnish took a day off to attend one of his cult's ceremonies.
Oh, and he used to wear purple robes to school.

Quick Home Sale UK said...

This would have been nice if it`s fair spending time with family is a good just hoping its truely is for family...

Quick Home Sale UK said...

I just cant get over this site! How come its not updated anymore?