I just don't understand. MPs and teachers follow virtually the same annual calendar of sitting/teaching to recess/half-term breaks. Why aren't we coming together and staying "important work is done during both elements of my job"?
Actually, if you look a little closer at the House of Commons calendar you will probably notice that MPs spend fewer days in the House of Commons than teachers spend in the classroom, and even on those sitting days, MPs are only theoretically in the Palace of Westminster, let alone the House of Commons. Unlike teachers, who would certainly be looking for new employment if they decided a long lunch on the terrace (oh wait we don't have terraces in most schools) was a better idea than drafting or scrutinising legislation.
But don't get me wrong. This is not a criticism of an MP's working year, in fact I fully support the current breakdown of parliamentary business against constituency business. I just wish MPs would speak up on behalf of teachers and educators and say "important work happens away from the House, as it does away from the classroom. I can't do my job effectively if I am not given time to reflect, plan, network, and develop. Neither can teachers." (Perhaps my MP can do this on Monday, 22 July. I'll be teaching, but he will have gone on summer recess the previous Friday.)
I won't go far down the pedantic route wherein I mention an MPs annual base salary of £66,396 as compared to the £22,500 average starting salary of a teacher. I believe MPs deserve every pound they earn, and I'm not a complete cynic who believes that most MPs are functionally useless. No, we don't have the same national league tables to measure their effectiveness against that of their colleagues (some things just aren't quantifiable) but I don't let that deter my wholehearted resolve that they earn the salaries currently in place. An MP's life is constantly under the spotlight (like a teacher's), their actions are held against an elusive "higher moral standard" (like a teacher's), although they don't usually get barred from politics if they contravene some Puritan social expectation like getting drunk in a pub on a Friday (unlike a teacher). Even without national league tables, MPs are still held to account by their constituents (when and if they vote).
I will mention my favourite education-related quotation from the American political drama The West Wing, in which Sam Seaborn describes his vision of schools like this:
"...education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens..."
I would therefore be remiss if I didn't also mention that MPs work in an actual palace.