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EDITIONS
Monday, 9 April, 2001, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Overworked? A teacher's story
angie rutter
Angie Rutter: Sustained by the "buzz" of teaching
By BBC News Online's Angela Harrison

Primary school teacher Angie Rutter believes she clocks up about 66 hours a week.

When the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, says most people would not agree with teachers' demands for a 35-hour week, she says: "Get real".

A special needs teacher with other managerial responsibilities, she works at a village school in Buckinghamshire.

"The work is relentless. It is tiring and the worst thing is never being able to finish anything.

"If I thought a lot about what hadn't been done, I would never sleep at night."

Management responsibilities

The main part of her job involves working with children with language and other related problems, both in the main classroom and outside.

But she is also a member of the school's management team so has other responsibilities.

She co-ordinates PE across the school, as well as all pupils' personal, social and health education.

"There is a lot of administration involved with special needs children," she said.

"We have to carry out many assessments and liaise closely with various agencies to give children the support they need."

Evenings and weekends

Angie Rutter's normal school day begins at eight and ends around six o'clock.

But after dinner, she said, she gets down to preparing lessons, generally working for two to three hours every night.

And work continues at the weekend: "Generally, I'd work for about four hours or more on a Sunday," she said.

She calculates that this amounts to a 66-hour week, but said she was less interested in more money than in having a more manageable workload.

And what would she say to Mr Blunkett following his apparent dismissal of the call for a 35-hour week?

"Get real. Teachers' priority is not pay. We just want our lives back."

High point

Angela Rutter has taught for 12 years, both in the inner city as well as in leafy Buckinghamshire.

She said she loved teaching and stayed with it because of the joy of helping children reach their potential.

"There's a buzz that you get from this and if that ever went, then I'd have to leave," she said.

A recent high point for her was when one of her special needs pupils, a 10-year-old boy who has problems hearing and understanding, gave her a poem, written in the style of Rudyard Kipling's If.

Part of it reads: "If you can pick me up when I fall down, you will be the person I need my friend."

His teacher said: "It is things like that which keep you in school."

See also:

09 Apr 01 | UK Education
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