Do teachers provide free child care?

Well no they don't.  They educate our children, and I believe that they are undervalued and under appreciated.  And I can understand why so many joined yesterday's strike in the UK.  But I'm sure that I was not the only person who got annoyed every time the teachers stridently condemned any parent who dared to complain about the disruption to their child care plans.  Can we get real here please?

First of all I am going to refer to working mothers, though I know the cost of child care should be shared and that mothers in the home also work - I am one now, I should know.

Anyway most working mothers are delighted when their kids start school because working did not pay for many of us when they are small - you stay in the workforce to keep your job or your sanity or both.  You only start to make money once you wave good bye to the creche fees.  But while organising childcare for school going children is much cheaper, it is also much more complicated, what with holidays, staff training days, mid term breaks, sick children, snow, and few of us can afford a childminder on standby to cover for all eventualities.  But that is what employers expect.  Employers expect us to be in work every day, whether the teachers are or not.  Our children have to be invisible.  Whenever I took time off to care for a sick child, my clients were told that I was sick.  Oh and I wasn't paid.

Many teachers are also working parents, so we're actually in this together.  All working parents need help with childcare, and personally I believe that every school should have a breakfast and homework club: this can be good for some children as well as for working parents and would make better use of school buildings.  Perhaps private companies could operate childcare in the school when it is closed - this did happen at aspie boy's former school, which is the main reason he went there.

I happen to think that most teachers are amazing people with huge talent and dedication - look what they've done for Smiley and aspie boy.  There is no way that I could ever stand up in front of 30 children hour after hour trying to teach, control and care for them, day in, day out.  The education of our children is vital for them and for the country's future.  Yet in the Irish media all we hear is about the short working hours and long holidays that teachers 'enjoy'.

There seems to be a campaign to pit the public sector against the private sector, to impose cuts on both, while the architects of the current recession remain almost unscathed.  Stop rising to the bait!  Parents and teachers should be on the same side.  Can we please all respect each other.


  1. Hear, Hear mutual respect is what it is all about and whilst yes it is a pain to get things organsied with childcare, I am extrmeley lucky that I work in the public sector and was able to work at home yesterday.

    Everyone is entiled to do what is right for them and if that is striking so they feel heard then so be it.

    Mich x

  2. @Michelle Twin Mum - thanks for getting it :) I was very nervous about posting this, so I really appreciate your comment x

  3. I have to agree with both you and Michelle, I totally understand why the the strike happens but I also see the point of people not in this sector saying that they too have been affected, pensions cut, hours cut, wages cut, I can name 5 people straight off who had to take between 5-10% pay cuts in order for them all to keep their jobs and they still have not increased back to their level, probably never will. its a tough one. For the record I think teachers work extremely hard, ours are often still at school 5pm and most work in the holidays as well. SO it all might seems a fab job choice, but its actually very hard, oh and not to forget the many evenings they spend marking. It is a nightmare childcare wise.

  4. Great to see another post about this. it is such an important topic and the more its discussed the better. The public vs private sector thang is so frustrating. It should be about the haves against the have nots. For example those with wealth and those without.

  5. Completely agree with you, so glad you wrote this. Thanks

  6. This public/private sector divide is extremely frustrating and well....divisive. I've actually had to stop listening to the drivel being dished out. It's so unfair. Every so often I catch something and it makes me really mad.

    The majority of BOTH sectors (ie the lower/middle paid) are both affected the most in this recession as far as I'm concerned. We are mpore alike and more in need of each other than anyone will tell.

    And BOTH sectors have the right to express their immense dissatisfaction at how their respective employers treat them.

    xx Jazzy

  7. I definitely don't think teachers should be expected to be childminders as well. I know it was inconvenient for working parents and rather frustrating for those who didn't get paid, but when we have a child we shouldn't send that child to school thinking it's a cheap way of childcare. Teachers in special schools do a remarkable job.

    CJ x

  8. Well said C :) What a great post.

    The fight and comparison between the two sectors really gets out of hand sometimes.


  9. I respect the right to strike but I do wish this private versus public sector divide would stop. Its time we had respect for every worker, whether private, public or home and realise that we all make up our society and all need one another.

    As someone who has worked in both sectors professionalism is not just something that exists in the public sector. People in the private sector also provide essential services which the public sector cannot function without - food, water, technology, buildings etc.

    What worries me is that the tension between the sectors is a convenient political trick that weakens our collective power against the government. While we are all preoccupied squabbling between ourselves as to whose sector is the most professional, most overworked or most underpaid we forget issues such as the horrendous wealth divide that needs to be debated.

    Great post.

    Deb xx

  10. Totally agree. I work in education, and the work conditions really have deteriorated over the last years. With the job freeze and the early retirement scheme fewer people are left to do the work, and everybody is tired and demoralized. We feel we are taken for a ride, but still try to do our best. The last think you want to read and hear after this is what a "cushy job" it is!

  11. Interesting to see that most of the comments here don't see a divide between the public and private sectors. It is simply media 'spin' yet another story to get us to take our eye of the ball of what is really going on.

    Pitting us against each other is a far easier scenario for the powers that be than having us think about what the current financial state of not just Europe but the world means in real terms for us the people who ultimately are the ones who will pay for this current crisis.

    Good post as always. xx

  12. @The Rambling Pages - it's because both private and public sector are taking cuts that I think we should be supporting each other.

    @Emma - I agree, thanks for your comment.

    @Suburbia - Oh good :)

    @jazzygal - I completely agree and it makes me so mad to hear the systematic campaign against the public sector in the Irish media xx

    @Crystal Jigsaw - I agree, and I think teachers have every right to strike, but I don't think they should have been quite so strident in the way they were giving out to parents, some of whom were probably desperately trying to get to work - it just increases the tensions between public and private sectors.

    @SAHMlovingit - Thanks again for commenting x

    @aspieinthefamily - I completely agree Deb, thank you xx

    @Truf - It's not fair and doesn't help staff morale or help improve with the education of children.

    @Helen - thank you.

  13. It is definitely a shame that a divide seems to have been built up between the public and private sectors. As you said, everyone is struggling with cuts and inflation and higher VAT and so on.

    The trouble is, though, that striking does seem to have been necessary to get the issues into the open. Work-to-rule or other industrial action would not have caused as much disruption and therefore would not have been talked about as much. So, we (and, yes, I was a bit disrupted, though we work from home, so it's not too difficult to juggle things a bit) had to be disrupted to get it properly out in the open.

  14. @Tasha Goddard - thanks so much for reading and commenting. I've no problem with the teachers going on strike, I think that more parents need to understand why the strike happened. But I also think that there needs to be more understanding by teachers of the problems that such disruption causes to parents. It's all about mutual tolerance and understanding. That's the only thing that will heal the artificial public/private divide, I believe.