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Teachers’ work-life balance ‘non-existent’

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Teachers’ work-life balance will only get worse this scholastic year, with an increase in paperwork, according to a union chief.

This increase in duties will mean that the work will have to spill over at home, eating away at teachers’ already precarious work-life balance, Union of Professional Educators’ boss Graham Sansone told Times of Malta.

“Work-life balance for teachers was already limited with the increased amount of correction of papers that has to be done at home. Now, with more paperwork being introduced, it is only going to get worse,” he said.

He explained that this scholastic year will see the removal of mid-yearly examinations and the introduction of a Learning Outcome Framework, which, loosely put, is a list of forms that need to be filled in at the end of the lessons so that teachers can assess students based on that lesson.

Teachers can have a maximum of 24 lessons a week, plus one lesson as a replacement. However, in exceptional cases it can be increased to 25.

“There’s going to be much more work that needs to be done after lessons so it is obvious that it’s going to have to spill over at home,” Mr Sansone said.

“Teachers are going to have limited time left so something’s got to give as they need to choose what subject to focus on.”

He said corrections take time so teachers need to be given time to do them.

As an example, he said, a composition sometimes takes 20 to 30 minutes to correct and mark.

He said various teachers already spent their summer working on new plans and studying the new syllabus.

“It was not a summer of rest for many teachers and they’re now bracing themselves for a scholastic year with an increased workload,” he said.

Mr Sansone also spoke about difficulties Learning Support Assistants were facing with the introduction of a new grade.

“There were two LSE grades. One with a certificate and the second one with a diploma,” he said.

“Now they have introduced a course and people who do it, get given preference over the other two grades. So we have a situation where LSEs were given no choice but to do it and fork out the €1,500 it costs,” he added.

Mr Sansone said that in places such as Gozo, the rush was phenomenal.

“There are Gozitan LSEs who work in Malta so this course would allow them to skip others in lower grades and get precedence for a post in a school in Gozo,” he said.

“Basically, this course guarantees your seniority and it is not fair or acceptable as you’re at the mercy of the system.”

With the course held in the afternoons, there is also a problem on who will be taking care of educators’ children.

“We look after other people’s children but who’s going to mind ours?” he asked.

The Education Ministry said it disagreed with such statements, saying that “the measures to be taken will be beneficial both for educators and students.”

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