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5 December 2018

It's a workload issue

A number of parents have contacted me to express their confusion and annoyance about what we do on the last day of the school year. I'm sure that others will be interested in my responses and in understanding some of my reasoning for this.

Last day of school is Monday 17 December
Monday 17 is our last day of school. As in other years, this is the day that we will be cleaning up and scrubbing desks and chairs etc. It certainly helps us if there are less children in the school on this day, and in the past couple of years a good number of children have stayed home. We expect that many children will be at school, especially those with working parents. By indicating that this is our cleaning day, and that there are no fun end of year activities happening, we are letting you know so that parents and children know what to expect. I don't expect families to go out of their way to make arrangements to keep their children at home, but I know that for some it will be an opportunity to enjoy an extended play date or go on holiday early. I completely understand that many parents have the last day in their calendar and are not able to make changes to their childcare arrangements - and they don't have to as the school is open.

Monday 17 December is not a teacher only day. Children who come to school will be taking responsibility for their environment and for the well being of others. They will also be participating and contributing, which is one of the NZ curriculum key competencies, by doing their bit to make our school a better place. While all children need these experiences, the reality is that is it very difficult to manage a clean up with every child present.

If starting the holidays a day early is something families can do, then we are asking that they do this, as it will make things easier for teachers. If teachers do not do their cleaning and sorting and tidying before the school holidays start, then they will need to do it in the holidays. I hope that parents can understand this is a workload issue. Classrooms become messy and untidy because things don't get put away properly during the year. This happens because teachers are busy teaching and planning and going the extra mile during the term for your children. We hope that our community will understand that we are trying to find ways to do things differently in recognition that staff wellbeing is currently being compromised. Expectations placed on teachers to do their jobs well actually mean that teachers spend their own time working. This is not ok. My job is to make sure that I'm doing everything I can to ensure that teacher workloads are maintained at reasonable levels. I don't expect teachers to be at school putting books away or cleaning desks during their holidays. This doesn't mean that teachers wont be doing anything until the first day of school, they most certainly will! (But it shouldn't be tidying up.) I will continue to look for ways to support the teaching and support staff at Ridgway to meet the expectations of their jobs without robbing their health and family lives and will likely share more about this next year, as our community are likely to notice other changes also.

This year we have the added pressure of building work taking place in the junior area. The builders have a very tight work plan in order to complete the work before the start of school next year. Children in Whānau Tūi in particular, but also those from Whānau Kōtare have had considerable disruption this term with the noise from the builders and also with the closing of the corridor and removal of toilets. The building work is now slowed because they need to access Room 1, which can't happen before children are finished in there for the year. To ensure that the building work is completed before school starts in 2019 (and it will still be a 'close thing') we will not be using Room 1 after Friday 14 Dec. Of course children from Whānau Tūi who come to school on Monday 17 December which is the last day of school will be catered for, but if there are less children in the school this will be easier. I am very hopeful that there will be no disruption from building work for our Year 2 and Year 3 learners at the start of next year. As a school we are trying our best to be flexible and accommodate the needs of our builders as best we can - and they in turn have gone out of their way to minimise inconvenience for us. The extra couple of days the builders have to work in and around Room 1 at the end of this term, will make a difference to them.

This will be my last blog for this year as I am taking leave from Friday 6 December to go on holiday with my family. This has been the busiest year ever for me at Ridgway (I've worked over 60 hours a week for most of the last 2 terms) and am looking forward to a month away before coming back in early January to get reading for 2019. Best wishes for the best ever Christmas and New Year season to everyone in our school community. Remember to keep reading!


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