The director Óscar Martín has spent the last days fighting with thousands of pages –literal– full of offers to choose the company that will provide the dining room service of his school. Like him, educational leaders from all over Spain have had to dedicate several days, and with little margin, to this task, which they will have to repeat next year. Principals are fed up with wasting time with bureaucracy, time they cannot dedicate to students.
“Each year this problem is increasing, until a time comes when the situation becomes untenable”, presents a statement published by the Madrid Board of Directors, chaired by Martín. “The directors stop directing to cope with the immense number of hours of office work, teachers spend more time filling in documents than preparing their classes,” the note explains. “That we stop putting the focus on our students to put it in the documentation is not acceptable. That our work loses its pedagogical function to become a mere administrative effort is not understandable,” he adds.
The public complaint comes this year from Madrid directors, but is repeated throughout the State. “We support this complaint from Madrid, it is a problem common to all the autonomous communities,” confirms Vicent Mañes, president of Fedeip, the federation of directors of public infant and primary schools. Both directors clarify: the complaint is not about the processes, a good part of the increase in the workload is due to greater demands for transparency, which are welcome, or come from Europe when they involve community funds. The complaint is that it is their turn, for teacher training, to carry out this work, which is added to those of the directive function: managing the day-to-day of the center and the pedagogical work with the students, in addition to giving their class hours weekly.
The problem is common to all autonomies, says Mañes, but not to all educational stages. In Secondary, it is common for the institutes to have an administrative assistant, probably insufficient, but less a stone, something that does not happen in general in Primary, although something is moving in the administration. “For a few years, and due to our proposals, in some communities there have begun to be assistants in the centers,” confirms Mañes, who speaks of the Valencian Community, Murcia or Euskadi. But still insufficient depending on where. In the Valencian Community where he works, they have started with the great ones, those of line two (two classrooms per course) share it and those of line one do not. And the comparative tort still exists. “I have 300 students in a one-line center and I don’t have one, but an institute with 200 students does,” exemplifies the representative of the directors. In other regions, such as the Basque Country, he clarifies, this problem has been solved.
The UGT union asked at the end of last summer that directors and teachers be released from these tasks to dedicate themselves to teaching, innovation and research. Because the complaint is made in public by the directors today, but the teachers of all stages also live immersed in a sea of documentation to be filled out by each student. In this specific case, that of teachers, the increase in bureaucratic burden was closely associated with Lomce. It is not the case of the addresses: “This is a historical demand of all the directors’ associations”, recalls Mañes. “I have been in management for 23 years and when I started all the meetings with the administration they were already in this line. Five years ago we began to see a little light.”
6-7 hours every day
Martín explains that he spends 6-7 hours a day doing various administrative tasks. Every year there are more, and the processes more complex. “This year is the dining room, two years ago the management of book scholarships began through the Accede program, and then we have the general administration of the center: contracting minor works, acquisition of educational materials, enrollment processes … Every year it is more difficult and we have more things, “he says. Mañes adds that “sometimes they try to cover our mouths by saying that we have management computer programs, Itaca is that of the Valencian Community, but the programs require data to be entered, managed, printed, modified. Sometimes they give more work than they facilitate” .
Martín explains the dining room selection process to give an idea of the magnitude of the task. “Each company of the lot that corresponds to each school presents its project. There are 27 or 28 this year, with between 300 and 500 pages per project. Take into account. And it is not just reading, you have to check a very high number of indicators, We scale it to decide. And we have an incredibly short deadline to do it, “he explains. Mañes adds: “Manage receipts, dining room scholarships, budgets, aid that is given …”.
Can’t management do it? “It makes its own assessment, based on objective parameters, but those of us who know the center are us and we have to adapt the offers to the real needs of the center (if you have students with special needs, a more or less large patio, assess the activities that they propose …) “, comments Martín.
Added to this administrative work, which Mañes takes “90% of the time,” is added the job itself. “If you are a serious director who cares about children, he only gives you for the day to day. You have 60 teachers, the dining room, the children, a projector that does not work … When is the administrative work done? the rest of the teachers have gone “. The days are extended “until 8 or 9”. Martín says that he has had six days of vacation. Your management team, ten. “Families came to see the center in summer [en Algete, Madrid] and they were surprised to see us there. But it is that, if not, we would not have been able to open in September “.
For Mañes, the problem comes from the fact that “the school management model is not defined. There is the broad debate.” The current one, he summarizes, “is that the management team is a group of teachers who, temporarily and provisionally, are in charge of the management. But their main task is teaching, we do not have training for economic, legal, juridical issues … . “. Fedeip proposes a more professionalized model, which contemplates that the management team has to be formed, although without losing contact with teaching “so as not to become managers.” The federation of directors proposes that the management of centers is another professional opportunity in Education, such as teaching or inspection.
At the moment, Fedeip recently met with the new Minister of Education, Pilar Alegría, along with her secondary school counterpart, Fedadi. According to Mañes, the minister promised to create a working group to modify this, which the Lomloe left pending to the disappointment of the directors.