Nearly half of school leaders work on Christmas Day, survey reveals

Almost half of school leaders expect to be as concerned with teaching as turkey on Christmas Day, a survey has revealed.

Research by school leader support website The Key found that 47 per cent said they were “likely” or “very likely” to spend time on 25 December working on or thinking about school issues.

Over half (58 per cent) of the 866 heads and deputies surveyed said they had spent time working on Christmas Day in previous years. Of those, 10 per cent said they had clocked up several hours work on Christmas Day in the past.

The Key also revealed that, over the festive season in 2012, more than 200 heads and deputies visited its website to read about unseasonal subjects such as Ofsted inspections and lesson observations.

Chris Hildrew, deputy head at Chew Valley School in Somerset, said: “Teaching is an all-consuming job and there isn’t a day that goes by (including Christmas) where I don’t think about it.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he would “strongly encourage all school leaders to take a well earned break over the Christmas period, for their own health and sanity”.

“All head teachers need time away to recharge their batteries if they’re going to maintain their energy and enthusiasm throughout the rest of the year. Having said that, many school leaders tell us they are feeling under an enormous amount of pressure at the moment and it’s understandable that they would feel the need to try to catch up over the Christmas holidays,” he added.

And Sue Holman, headteacher at St George’s School on the Isle of Wight, described school leadership as “a lifestyle not a job”. “You can’t leave it at the front door,” she added.

“Much of the tactical work of a school leader necessarily happens during term time,” said The Key’s chief executive Fergal Roche, “but the Christmas holidays afford some of The Key’s members with the headspace to start thinking more strategically. I hope that these figures will quash the accusations that school leaders benefit from too much holiday.”

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