It is easy to become overwhelmed in the first year of teaching. The Government and Ofsted have published a number of resources aimed at reducing teacher workload and it is crucial that NQTs are given the opportunity to maintain a healthy work/life balance in this critical part of their career.

Working time

All full-time teachers, including NQTs, who are employed on School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document terms, are required to work for 195 days in any school year, of which 190 days must be dedicated to teaching and other professional duties. The remaining 5 days are usually taken up as INSET. Full-time teachers are contracted to work for a maximum of 1265 hours of directed time over the course of the year and can also be expected to work “reasonable additional hours” by the head teacher.

NQTs are entitled to a teaching timetable equivalent to no more than 90% of the time other teachers without management responsibilities spend in the classroom. In addition, NQTs are also entitled to PPA time equivalent to 10% of their reduced teaching timetable. 

From 2021, teachers in their second year of teaching will receive a 5% additional off timetable time, as part of the Early Career Framework that is being introduced by the government, with an early rollout starting in September 2020.

NQTs can be asked to cover classes, but must do so only “rarely” and must not be asked to cover colleagues’ lessons during their PPA time. If you do need to cover for an absent colleague in rare circumstances, you should not be expected to plan or assess work done by pupils in those lessons.

Professional duties

NQTs are expected to undertake all the duties of qualified teachers and should have an appointed mentor to help support and guide them through their first year in school. Mentors are there to assist with an NQT’s professional development and should be given additional non-contact time in order to meet regularly with their NQT and ensure they are able to undertake all tasks expected of them. Usually, the mentor will also act as the primary observer for the NQT’s observed lessons as part of the appraisal process. Both mentor and NQT will be aware of workload pressures and should work together to ensure that both NQT and mentor have a healthy work/life balance.