Category Archives: Money

My first ever Guardian blog post!

So there I was yesterday, sitting at my desk, writing some resources for a project I’m working on. I always have Twitter open on my desktop, just so I can keep up with what’s going on. Plus, when you work at home on your own it’s nice to talk to people online.

Anyway, @GuardianTeach tweeted and asked if there were any RE teachers interested in blogging. Naturally I retweeted but I also replied saying that it was a shame they didn’t tweet last year when I actually was one. They replied, suggesting I get in touch anyway. So I did. I love a good blog and was definitely interested. They wanted a response to Professor James Conroy’s report on the state of RE in schools today. I was able to be honest in my response to the findings within the report.

To say it was easy is an understatement. I know budgets are tight within schools, always have, always will be. But I’ve been on the side where you have to make your budget stretch more than most. I wasn’t shocked by the findings. I had to fight RE’s corner many times. It’s not always respected by most of the other staff. And that’s what makes the RE teachers job harder. No matter how hard you stretch your budget, how many pens you ‘borrow’ from certain Swedish furniture shops, you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

I can remember on inset days after the summer holidays when the whole staff would meet & we would go through the exam results. As someone who was super conscientious & worked incredibly hard for her students, this was torture. At times, RE is taught by non-specialists who don’t always have the subject knowledge. And sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work, students don’t always do the work. So sitting with the results up on the PowerPoint, I wanted to jump up & say, ‘But you don’t know how hard I’ve worked, it’s not fair, we don’t have any money, there are only 2 of us, we only have an hour a week, we teach everyone, we did our best!’ I never did shout this out, but I have mini-panic attacks over it.

I’m not saying other teachers don’t work hard or have tough times or difficult working environments. But if RE is as important as the Government suggests then they need to back it up. Come on Gove, put your money where your mouth is!

To read my blog post, have a read of it here. Let me know what you think. My budget for the year was about £800 for way more students. What are your experiences? What’s your budget like?

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Work less, live more?

I saw a few tweets last week about the idea that Britons should ideally work about a 20-hour week. This would enable more job shares, reduced unemployment and, in theory, boost the economy. I then googled it and read the whole article from The Guardian website.

One of the things that interests me is the claim that ‘The UK has the longest working week of any major European economy.’ I’ve heard this before and am not all surprised. In fact, it saddens me.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have much. We had a roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food in our bellies. Beyond that, I wasn’t really aware of anything. I know that money was tight. We didn’t go abroad at all. In fact the only holidays we had was when us children went to stay with our grandparents. I didn’t go on a plane until I was 21! But I didn’t think anything of it. These days everyone wants the best of everything. But at what cost?

Most people I know work exceptionally hard. They work so much that they are exhausted by the weekend. They work beyond their hours and don’t often get any reward for it. This makes me sad. The company my OH works for gave everyone a tin of chocolates for Christmas. Cheaper than monetary bonus or time off in lieu, but it didn’t go down well with everyone.

When I worked full-time I worked insanely long hours. I earned a fair wage for it, but at what cost? It very nearly broke me. This is why I agree with the idea of people working less. If people worked fewer hours, they’d have more leisure time, more time to get fit, sleep more, invest in their relationships, be healthier and hopefully happier. This would surely have a positive impact on productivity. I don’t work full-time but even I would appreciate another day at the weekend so that I could spend more time with my OH, friends and family. Instead we have to squeeze everything into 48 hours – downtime, hobbies, spending quality time together, ‘me’ time, seeing others, working on the house and garden. No wonder everyone makes so many ‘I don’t like Monday’ comments on Twitter!

I do realise that fewer hours worked means less money coming in and for a lot of people it’s not an option. Would cutting back on things make this easier? Possibly, probably not though.

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m no economist but I have experienced working so hard that I got the ‘Sunday night blues’ and nothing could shake it, not even wine.

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Changing Times

I love cars. Ever since I got my first car at the age 21, when I began my PGCE year. It was a Peaugot 106. A tiny little tin can that helped me move all my worldly possessions from my student digs to my first ever flat. I love driving fast despite being worried about my CO2 emissions and fuel costs. My current car, a VW Golf TDi is a lease car. I didn’t worry about while it was earning over £2k a month. But now I cannot afford it. Fortunately my OH drives a BMW 3 Series & works from home most of the time. So, in our self-induced age of austerity, Plob (my car) is going. I’ve called the finance company & someone will pick it up in a few weeks. End of lease. Part of me wishes I had enough money for a turqoise Mini Cooper SD so if anyone wants to help me out there…!

Are we really going to cope being a one car family? Probably not. And I’ve already stared looking for a Plob-replacement. Thanks to an inheritance & savings, I have some money set by for a small little run around. I don’t want to spend too much & have a very clear set of things I want (small, low car tax, cheap to run) and things I don’t want (anything fancy as fancy equals expensive!). I figure this way I’ve got time to get a good deal. We can survive for a while with just one car. But how will I feel without my independence? I have no idea. It doesn’t scare me or worry me. Not having to find the money to pay for a car which can sit outside without being used for two weeks worries me. A lot. So now I can breathe a little easier.

This isn’t the only change since giving up full time employment. The other is most notable (and most hilarious to my OH!) Getting up. It’s really difficult! I’ve been getting up about 6am for the best part of the last 9 years. Because I had to get into work to get on with my day. Now, if I don’t want to get up, I don’t have to. I don’t have to do supply. I can work on my laptop in bed if I must for the other bits and pieces but I can decide when I do them. My alarm goes off. I hit snooze. About three times! This is so not like me. I used to jump out of bed! I’m routinely getting 8 hours of sleep a night, usually more. I look & feel my age…not haggered and exhausted.

I no longer think laughter is the best medicine…reduced employment is!

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Money Money Money

All you here about these days is the economic crisis. Greece not meeting deadlines; high unemployment; Tories blaming Labour (still); Labour saying what they’d do differently etc etc. Everyone is making cutbacks. So when you’ve handed in your notice in without a job to go to, cutbacks are going to have to be made.

This morning, while in the shower, I was listening to BBC Oxford & they had David Kuo from Motley Fool on talking about cutting credit card (from 2:10 minutes in), in response to the original draft of David Cameron’s speech. I’ve had credit card debt since I started working as a teacher. I was lucky (poor) enough not to have any debt from university because I didn’t have to pay fees & I worked from the age of 13 until 21 in a gift shop in my home town. My Granny set up blue & grey post office savings books for me & my siblings when we were small so I have always known that saving is essential. But I like pretty things & didn’t see why I should go short. There would always be another month’s pay to help sort it.

I agree with David in that debt is like a monkey on your back. It’s always there and I had to make a change. I had to clear my credit card. I didn’t know when I would be getting a regular salary in & cutbacks weren’t enough. I had some savings that I could use but I mainly paid it off by cutting back. I’ve made huge changes – shopped around for a cheaper haircut, joined Groupon etc & only buy essential things. Over on A Crafty Chai, I blogged about making my own salt scrub in a bid to save money. As a family, due to the drop of income, we’re having to cut & save where we can. Fewer meals out, reduce the film rentals from Apple TV & of course, ‘brand down’. It’s going to be a tough old time, but according to Big Dave, we must all do our bit. Practice what you preach Mr C!


Autumn Tinted Glasses

It’s funny but recently I’ve been thinking about teaching. I am a great teacher. I’m not just being big-headed! OFSTED judged me ‘outstanding’ in a recent inspection back in May. I was amazed, especially as I’d handed in my notice by this point, knowing that I didn’t have another teaching job to go to. I haven’t regretted this decision one little bit. Well, I miss the money obviously! But I knew what I was doing. I am very much out of my comfort zone at the moment and teaching is what I know.

I do love teaching. Being in the classroom is great & there’s nothing else quite like it. If that’s all teaching was, I think I’d probably still be doing it. But it isn’t. It’s so much more than that. Difficult students that can wear you down; difficult parents that can wear you down! Policy after policy after policy…then there’s the staff! I know it’s not saving lives or going to war but it’s a tough & often unrewarding job. After nine years I need a break. I need to keep reminding myself of the permanent exhaustion I felt, looking haggard & the constant anxiety that I wasn’t doing enough. The fact that I now look rested, despite poor (!), is a good reminder that teaching isn’t what I see when looking through my autumn tinted glasses!

Courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography