You hear this a lot as a teacher. Sometimes you laugh it of, sometimes you silently fume, and sometimes you angrily point out that half-terms are rarely not worked-through, weekends are non-existent, and at least two weeks of the summer holiday are spent recovering from the old year and preparing for the new.
But it's nice to have it pointed out by impartial analysis that teachers work more overtime than any other profession. The TUC found that 61% of primary teachers do regular overtime (which seems like an under-estimate to me: I've never met any of the 39%), which amounts to 13 hours per week of unpaid work. That's nearly two whole days per week.
It's not the fact that it's unpaid, I think, that is the problem. Or that teachers go above and beyond - that's often in our nature. It's that such unpaid overtime is expected as part of the culture.
Recently I've been struck by how pervasive this culture has become - for example, this teacher wrote about how she is made to feel guilty for working part-time, and having interests and needs which she puts before school. This article from a couple of years back illustrates how destructive a 'keep your head down and commit' attitude can be for teachers' mental health. And the creeping challenges to teachers' terms and conditions threaten to make this problem an even more insidious one.
Is there a better way? There are some beacons of good practice like this school which I've written about before, and an interesting approach being pioneered in Nottingham at the moment. But it's important to realise that the culture is not just down to those who are in charge. School culture is developed from the bottom up, just as much as it comes from the top down. Now more than ever we all need to stand up for a healthy attitude towards our work. We all need to take a step back, look at what we're doing and ask: is this healthy? Is this what I want? Is this even possible? And if not how can I make a change for myself and my school?