Guidance for teachers and lecturers
This guidance relates to issues that members have consistently told us add to their workload and do not aid teaching and learning. We have explained what the NEU policy is and also, where relevant, where the DfE and/or Ofsted have stated that these things are not required. Additionally, if there is specific reference in your terms and conditions (the Red Book for sixth form college teachers) that has been included.
For more detailed guidance on each of these issues, please refer to our website. We do include reference to DfE and Ofsted guidance when referencing colleges because colleges have not always deserved, in the Government’s eyes, their own specific inspection system that explicitly, and independently, covers vocational education and training (VET) in a way that renders inspection distinctive to VET. Guidance for FE and sixth form college inspection.
The NEU says: Inspection by itself does not improve teaching or learning. Mock inspections, and preparation for them, can be disruptive and cause unnecessary stress and workload. There is no statutory requirement to participate in ‘mocksteds’.
The DfE and Ofsted say: Mock inspections and/or mock deep dives are unnecessary and a waste of time. Mock inspections or mock deep dives only add to staff workload and do not improve teaching or the educational outcomes of students.
Mock inspections and/or mock deep dives are not required by the DfE or Ofsted.
You should not be asked to participate in mock inspections or mock deep dives.
The NEU says: Planning lessons is an essential part of every teacher’s role. Objecting to unreasonable prescription and scrutiny is consistent with maintaining the highest standards of professional practice. Members should not be obligated to submit their lesson plans to members of the senior management team or anyone acting on behalf of the senior management team.
Ofsted says: It doesn’t require individual lesson plans during an inspection, or past plans.
Lesson plans are helpful to support effective teaching in the classroom or workshop. They should not be produced to simply satisfy external scrutiny. The DfE’s Independent Teacher Workload Review Group specifically stated that detailed daily or weekly plans should not be a routine expectation and we assume this intention for all educational sectors.
You should not be asked to plan your lessons in a particular format or routinely asked to hand in lesson plans.
The NEU says: There is a tsunami of data recorded on students, much of which has little or no educational value. The NEU believes there should be agreed limits on student tracking and that teachers should not undertake exam results analysis or collate student reports.
Data shouldn’t be collected 'just in case’ or to be ‘ready’ for Ofsted. Nor should data be collected ‘just because you can’. It should have a clear purpose. Ofsted does not require a particular format or a particular frequency: you should present any data in the format that colleges would normally use to monitor students’ progress. As a rule, the DfE recommends no more than two or three attainment data collection points a year.
You should not be asked to collect or collate the same data more than once and there should always be a clear purpose for collecting the data you do.
The NEU says: Although giving feedback to students is important, this does not necessarily mean written marking, or that it should be done in a prescribed manner.
The DfE says: All marking should be “meaningful, manageable and motivating”. Ofsted and the DfE are encouraging colleges to move away from excessive marking policies. There is no requirement from the DfE or Ofsted that teachers must provide written feedback and that students should respond in writing. The DfE Workload Toolkit suggests practical measures colleges can undertake to reduce excessive workload around marking. This is partly relevant for colleges too.
You should not be expected to routinely give or receive written feedback.
The NEU says: Teachers should only produce one report per year for each of the students they teach, in writing or using an electronic comments bank.
The DfE says: Lengthy written reports are unnecessary and do not engage students or parents or improve student outcomes. The DfE is encouraging schools to review their procedures to ensure they do not generate excessive workload. This must be the same for colleges too. Reports to parents and students on progress should not be onerous or taxing.
You should not be asked to produce more than one report per academic year.
The NEU says: Excessive classroom or workshop observation is one of the biggest sources of stress and does not lead to better practice. It also adds unnecessarily to the workload of those undertaking the observations. These include observation during learning walks, student tracking/ shadowing, departmental and subject reviews, pre-inspection visits, drop-ins, mock inspections and any other initiatives that involve classroom or workshop observation.
Observations should be part of a collegiate, professional dialogue, with either one full- class observation per year or a maximum of three 20-minute observations over the year.
There may be certain exceptions, e.g., probation, ITT, formal capability etc.
You should not have more than one observation per year.
The NEU says: The union advocates appraisal which is developmental, supportive and based on a professional dialogue that aims to improve teaching and learning. The process should not be punitive, unfair or overburdensome. For more guidance on appraisal systems, visit the NEU website or contact the national official for the post-16 sector.
Appraisal should not add to staff workload nor deny progression to teachers whose performance is acceptable.
The NEU says: Members should not attend any meetings which are not within directed time or that are not calendared meetings for the academic year, agreed with NEU members. The NEU believes meetings should only take place if they are necessary and have a clear agenda and purpose. Unnecessary meetings add to workload and are counterproductive.
To keep workload manageable and improve work/life balance, there should be one meeting per week and it should be no longer than an hour. Where possible, it should be planned in advance. Dates and meeting times should not discriminate against part-time or other employees.
More information is in the nationally agreed joint guidance on workload and working time for teachers in sixth form colleges (Appendix 9 of the Red Book national agreement for teachers in sixth form colleges). While FE colleges are, on average, much larger than sixth form colleges, the scope of the work and the professional practice of teachers is similar and therefore it is entirely relevant to refer FE members to the Red Book.
Directed or ‘contact’ time
The Red Book national agreement for teachers in sixth form colleges states that the maximum number of hours a teacher can be directed annually is 1,265 hours, pro rata for part- time teachers
Contact hours and teaching duties in FE colleges should be standardised in a way that is no worse than in sixth form colleges. The Joint Agreement on Guidance for Regulating Working Hours in Further Education Colleges defines working time as follows:
- any period during which a worker is working at the college’s disposal and carrying out his/her duties
- any period when a worker is receiving relevant training
any additional period which is to be treated as working time under a relevant agreement – examples of working time might include time spent on:
- preparing, correcting and assessing reports
- college-supervised trips or other similar activities with students
- meetings with parents
- liaison with local authorities or employers, universities etc
- attendance at staff meetings and other work-related meetings
- attendance at college-organised training.
The nationally agreed joint guidance on workload and working time for teachers in sixth form colleges (Appendix 9 of the Red Book) states that “an appropriate level of non- contact time should be allowed for purposes such as planning, preparation and assessment which would otherwise be carried out during the teacher’s own time possibly to the detriment of work/life balance”.
The NEU believes that planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) are essential elements of a teacher’s role and all teachers, including principals who are timetabled to teach, should have guaranteed time within college sessions for such purposes. PPA time should take up the majority of hours of non-teaching hours in a lecturer’s contract for weekly hours.
New policy initiatives
The NEU says: Members should refuse to implement any new management-led policies and working practices, which have not been impact assessed for workload jointly with union reps and leadership. Existing practices should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are necessary and do not create too much additional workload.
You should not be asked to implement any new policies or practices that increase your workload without determining which initiative it will replace.
NEU reps have successfully negotiated workload charters that ensure members are protected from overwork, from being burdened with obligations to support students in detriment to their health, and from being exploited in cutting costs.
Appendix 9 of the Red Book states that “consideration should also be given to appropriate additional non-contact time for those with additional management or leadership responsibilities”. Where they are also teaching, they require a reasonable allocation of time in meaningful blocks within college session times to support the discharge of these responsibilities.
All teachers with leadership and management responsibilities should receive payment in accordance with the provisions of the Red Book or local agreements in FE colleges. In too many colleges, members are being given onerous responsibilities for leadership and management without the associated payment. Transparent and open information should be given around remuneration for leadership and management responsibilities and should be discussed at the joint consultative and negotiating committee (JCNC).
You should not be asked to undertake additional responsibilities unless you receive an appropriate payment and details on the terms of the agreement, duties and termination options.
Sixth form college teachers’ contractual cover obligations are set out in Appendix 4 of the Red Book national agreement and local agreements should be in place in FE colleges. Covering for teacher absence is not a good use of a teacher’s time and asking teachers to cover for planned absences is unacceptable.
Support staff should only be asked to cover for teacher absence in rare and unforeseen circumstances.
You should refuse to provide cover in any situation that is not a genuine emergency.
The NEU says: Teachers should not undertake supervision of students during the lunch break.
The nationally agreed guidance (Appendix 9 of the Red Book) states that “it is important that teaching staff… should not have to spend time on tasks that do not require their professional expertise“.
You (including FE college lecturers) should not be asked to supervise students during your lunch break.
The nationally agreed joint guidance on workload and working time for teachers in sixth form colleges recognises that exam invigilation is not a productive use of teachers 'time and states that “consideration should in all cases be given to means of minimising any requirement to invigilate”.
You should not be asked to invigilate any exams with the following exceptions:
- controlled assessments
- practical or oral examinations which require the specialist teacher to be present
- mock or trial examinations that are carried out by teachers with the class or group they normally teach during their normal timetabled time and under the arrangements for the conduct of the lesson.