We know that, as Governors, you understand the importance of addressing workload as a priority for all education professionals. Excessive workload is not just a health and safety concern – it is detrimental to the education that our students deserve and is the most commonly cited reason for teachers leaving the profession.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact globally on how we all approach work and how we can make adjustments to improve our work/life balance in the future.  For the teaching profession, and those who work in education, the pandemic has meant them having to continually adjust and review how they teach and engage with students, resulting in an increased workload for many, where there were already historical workload issues across the profession.

This summer term, we will be focusing on ensuring that, for our teacher members, every workplace has a directed time calendar. Directed time is when teachers are directed by their head to be at work and available for work. This is for a maximum of 1,265 hours per academic year, spread over 195 days with a contingency to cover unexpected events. Directed time includes but is not limited to teaching time, PPA time, break time, duties, parents’ evenings, school meetings, INSET and trapped time. By addressing directed working hours, we will begin effectively to tackle the issue of overall workload. Those working in education should know, in advance, their working time patterns for the academic year, both in terms of the school or college calendar and their individual directed time commitments. The process of agreeing directed time calendars should be a negotiated between the head teacher/principal and union group within the school who collectively agree how a teacher’s work pattern is broken down to achieve an acceptable workload. There are more directed time resources available to view here.

Whilst we recognise having a directed time calendar can help teachers and school leaders plan the school year and help reduce workload, it is also important for school governors to prioritise staff wellbeing and their work/life balance with an aim to reduce work related stress, sickness absence, burnout and staff leaving the profession. To help tackle this, we are calling on governors to review their approach towards the workload and wellbeing of staff, starting with the adoption of a Work/Life Balance Policy.  We believe prioritising the work/life balance of staff will result in a happier workforce, who are good and effective teachers, committed to providing the best education to those they teach, allowing schools to retain and nurture good teachers.

The NEU Governors Network is a partnership between the National Education Union and all governors and trustees. Our aim is to work collaboratively to deliver the best for education and our young people. By becoming a member of our network, you will help us shape the future of education and get access to written briefings on education topics such as funding, regular information though e-bulletins and access to our events for governors. You can join the network here.