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Why do schools have so many inset days?

(42 Posts)
seasider Thu 03-Oct-13 15:07:24

My younger son has just started high school and tomorrow he is off for an inset day. He is also off from 1.30pm every Thursday for teacher "planning". If I wanted to take him out of school, with permission, for a holiday, I would be fined because he is missing valuable school time. Am I missing something??confused

janerowena Thu 03-Oct-13 15:37:24

Paperwork. Bureaucracy. My husband is up at 5.30 marking every morning, he is at school until about 6 every evening dealing with paperwork and phone calls and pupil and parent problems. Health and safety paperwork just for taking children to away matches is several pages long each trip. He is also in every saturday morning. He is ill every half term and at the beginning of every holiday. He struggles out of the door every morning to be at school by 8am because of the sheer number of kids who get dumped off early and get bored and could wreck his room.

Then on top of that, they have to be updated on all fire regulation procedures, first aid and awareness of bullying/eating problems courses etc. every year plus retaking their minibus driving skills courses. That is what those days are filled up with. Also teaching older teachers how to use some very scary computer programmes. There is other stuff but I can't remember - oh yes, the rules for football/rugby/hockey/athletics/whatever matches change every year so in order to be able to teach children they have to take refreshers on those too.

He is head of maths in a large school so he also has to go away on courses to update him for that too, along with chnages to the exam system.

There is other stuff too that i can't think of right now.

janerowena Thu 03-Oct-13 15:50:20

PS the reason that they have inset days all over the place is because the local fire chiefs/suicide experts/social workers/IT experts/driving instructors and so on can't get to them all on the same day.

DBH said that after the self-harming lectures every child in the school was very edgy for weeks as teachers scanned their bodies for every small scratch.

janerowena Thu 03-Oct-13 15:55:34

Oh - the 'planning' is making sure that all the teachers are all at the same time level with their curriculum. If it is week 8 it must be the Hadron Collider, that sort of thing. Except that the sets are all different and lessons get interrupted by other activities so lesson plans need restructuring. It's the time when all the teachers teaching the same subject can get together and discuss strategies for helping the weaker children and so on. Or how to get rid of them to another colleague. For their own good of course.

Greatnan Thu 03-Oct-13 16:47:22

Teaching was hard enough in the 1970s, when I qualified. Now, it seems to be impossible. I have endless respect for those brave souls who stay in the profession in spite of all the extra work and interference from the government.

JessM Thu 03-Oct-13 17:11:02

Not to mention reminders about safeguarding, changes to the curriculum (thanks Mr Gove) changes to OFSTED requirements (which happens every 2-3 years) and the changes to the school IT policy (just don't, ever, friend a sixth former on facebook - yes you Mr Jones! Or post a photo of the deputy head at the xmas do, falling over. )
Unlike offices you can't just "call a meeting" and gather groups of staff together.

merlotgran Thu 03-Oct-13 17:40:37

I agree with all of the above. Our PD (inset) days were a long slog as in a large secondary school you are often needed for meetings/training/reviews etc., in various parts of the campus with only a few minutes to get to each one. Boy, did I look forward to a brief sit down at lunch time!

harrigran Thu 03-Oct-13 19:00:34

DH and I have to step in when there are inset days and now we have the teachers strike looming which means we can't go away to celebrate our anniversary.

Greatnan Thu 03-Oct-13 19:08:12

That's a shame, harrigran, but you can't expect the teachers' unions to take into account the individual plans of all parents or carers! Don't blame the teachers, blame the government.

tiggypiro Thu 03-Oct-13 22:02:01

Totally agree Greatnan. Teaching was hard in the 70's but at least it was more fun than it became in the 90's.
It was Kenneth Baker who started the 5 training days regime in the 80's when they became known as Baker Days or Bidet's (there was a joke about only one of them being useful - anyone remember it?)

JessM Fri 04-Oct-13 09:48:59

in some ways teaching was harder 30 years ago. They did not have lesson plans you could download from the server, electronic registers, electronic whiteboards, laptops etc and we certainly did not have anything like the number of support staff. One lab technician... but no lunch time supervisors, classroom assistants, reprographics assistants, business managers etc etc i think schools are much better funded now.
I also had very little support with classroom management or anything I did in the classroom and i think they get more help now.
And then there were the hours spent grappling with Roneo and banda duplicators.
These days though, teachers are expected to be much more systematic which is good - but the curriculum can be a bit dry and formulaic.

gillybob Fri 04-Oct-13 10:47:08

Without entering into the argument as to how difficult or not difficult it is to be a teacher these days, I cannot understand how working parents are meant to cope with in-service days and strikes which seem to be sprung on them at the last minute. It is hard enough to find adaquate childcare to cope with all of the holidays never mind the other days.

Also now that parents are being fined for taking a child out of school for a family trip/holiday/whatever surely it has to work the other way when a child is denied their education because the teachers have decided to strike.

harrigran Fri 04-Oct-13 10:53:57

I agree with your statement gillybob, should work both ways.

gracesmum Fri 04-Oct-13 12:16:52

Oh janerowena I have been there and done that and somehow survived, but I also wish I had not read your first post as DD1 who has 2 little boys of 3 1/2 and nearly 2 has gone back to university to retrain as a secondary maths teacher. As a successful businesswoman who is also a natural team leader and fantastic with children and teenagers, I sometimes joke that she will either be a Deputy Head in 5 years or will have been sacked for telling management that they cannot organise the proverbial festivities in a brewery. I dread to think of the pressures she will be under especially next September when DGS starts school and she will presumalby be starting her first job. I am trying to autosuggest that no one will think the worse of her if she doesn't actually take a job for the first term or year - unless the perfect one presents itself - i.e. down the road and part time (as if) as a good i.e. unstressful start to his schooling for little DGS is I think fundamental.

Ariadne Fri 04-Oct-13 12:29:15

I never wanted to do anything else but teach, and would happily do it all over again, honestly. If I was young again, that is! Hard work, lots of changing demands, but the most rewarding job in the world. (In a big, South London comprehensive.)

I can understand that INSET days interfere with, and cause problems for parents and carers, but, as others have pointed out, they really are essential. I suppose schools could add the days to the end of term, and give the children an extra few days' holiday. Many now provide breakfast clubs and after school clubs, which I think help hard pressed parents a bit. Working parents have it so hard these days. I qualified and trained with three children at home, so I do have some idea.

As for strikes - well, I never have quite seen the point, but that is another issue, and a road down which I do not want to go!

JessM Fri 04-Oct-13 13:01:59

It would not be unreasonable to circulate all the inset days in advance, as they will be on the staff's calendar. Parents should demand this.
Primary schools do seem, sometimes, to live in a parallel universe in which all the mums are at home and can produce all kinds of things with little notice e.g. a star wars fancy dress
Also those "assemblies" where there is huge pressure to show up and see your little dear say a line. How are working parents supposed to do that?

Aka Fri 04-Oct-13 13:13:37

I'd not chose teaching as a career if I was young and starting out again. It's certainly not a matter of downloading lessons from the Internet as even if you did this they're still have to be tweaked and adjusted for a particular group. Marking, planning, meetings, courses, additional responsibilities, extra curricular activities, school trips, paperwork, etc ...the list is endless. And for all this workload in addition to actually teaching their subject(s), they are to have their pensions reduced and their terms and conditions of employment altered without consultation,
These are the same teachers you expect to teach your children and grandchildren when they barely get time to spend with their own families? They should have your full support not being maligned for things beyond their control (INSET days) or for trying to stand up for their pensions and working conditions.

Aka Fri 04-Oct-13 13:14:56

PS schools do circulate INSET days in advance and grandparents can access these on the schooll's website if the parents haven't told you in advance.

gillybob Fri 04-Oct-13 13:15:23

I am not sure why inset days are essential and I fail to see why adding them to the end of a term or half term will make the situation for working parents any easier. I understand the need for planning lessons etc. but I was always lead to believe (from friends who teach) that this was carried out during the extremely long holidays. My son and DIL very rarely get to spend any holiday time together as they each only have 4 weeks holiday per year and are therefore forced to take them separately in order to cover school holidays. Taking extra time off for inset days, strikes etc. only means one of them have to take a day off unpaid at very short notice. The school my grandchildren attend is in quite a deprived area in the middle of a large council estate. They provide very little (if any) out of school facilities and no breakfast clubs. Infact to be honest they don't seem to provide very good teaching either if their recent OFSTED report is anything to go by.

I am not knocking teachers here, I know that most do a very good job. smile

Ana Fri 04-Oct-13 13:16:07

Yes - that's what I do.

Aka Fri 04-Oct-13 13:17:59

Let's do away with themed days then, no fancy dresses required then and ditto assemblies. Now is everyone happy? And how about doing away with Parents' Evenings too? Then no one need be bothered to go to school in their own free time and teachers wouldn't have to turn our to them after a hard day at work themselves.

gillybob Fri 04-Oct-13 13:18:08

My grandchildrens school is so out of date it is useless and very misleading showing names and photographs of staff long since gone and "dates for your diary" are from 2011 and 2012. So not much help there Aka.

Aka Fri 04-Oct-13 13:21:25

And while we're at it let's open all schools from 8.00 am - 6.00 pm and serve breakfast and dinner in addition to lunch.

Aka Fri 04-Oct-13 13:23:48

What...on their website Gilly?

I do take your point there are some terrible schools out there. But that doesn't take away from those who are working their socks off in the majority. Yes, let's kick the bad ones into line.

Aka Fri 04-Oct-13 13:24:38

PS hopefully their OFSTED inspection will bring about change?