The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT both renewed calls the other week for the government to impose legal limits on the maximum temperature that classrooms should operate.  Temperatures in school classrooms have been reaching 32 degrees in some parts of the country.


According to the NASUWT Secretary General Chris Keates, “Pupils become extremely lethargic, unable to concentrate and, in some cases, faint.”

Oh for goodness’ sake.

The main problem is that school kids don’t drink enough in the heat, not the heat itself.  I guarantee you, whatever the temperature was, it wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference if I wasn’t drinking enough water.  If we actually taught and encouraged kids to keep hydrated like we did on the sports field then we wouldn’t have anywhere near such a problem.

Furthermore, Ms Keates says that “Lessons are disrupted by constant requests for time out to get drinks of water… Teachers report that the quality of work undoubtedly suffers…

The irony – complains about the heat and then decides to complain about the fact that some people are attempting to solve the problem of dehydration.

This appears to be nothing more than an attempt to hold the Government to ransom over working conditions for union members.  There are clearly many pupils out there who have got the capacity to think “I’m hot and thirsty, time to get a drink of water.”  If anything it’s actually quite cynical – use the excuse that kids aren’t coping to help further their own agenda.

No doubt when nothing changes NASUWT will probably ballot for strike action for the teachers they represent.

What’s even more amusing to me is that the NUT is calling for a maximum of 26 degrees in classrooms.  (To be fair to them, at least they’ve been honest and said it was for the teachers’ benefit.)

I’m sorry, but given that at the height of the heat-wave the temperature outside was over 26 degrees in parts of the country, I cannot see that being a sensible solution.  Half the country’s schools would be shut down because teachers found it a bit toasty, by that logic.  Sometimes I do wonder if the unions are full of ultra-delicate people made out of butter: the first sign of heat and they complain they’ll melt.  If my house can be (constantly) nearly 30 degrees for the 8 hours a day I work, then you can go to a classroom and teach for six hours in 26 degrees.  Open the windows, limit the sun beaming in and open a bottle of water or two.  Bring in a fan if you have to.  You don’t need to have laws in place to have some common sense.

To put this in perspective, the temperature at this time of year in Afghanistan is over 35 degrees.  Imagine that, with full army combat kit on, all day outside…

My advice to the NUT and NASUWT?  Stop complaining and making it political and get on with it.  Tell teachers to use their common sense and enjoy the weather while it lasts.

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