It is important that you are aware of the expectations on you, and your entitlement to protected time to spend as you see fit.

Before the start of the school year (and as soon as practically possible) all teachers are entitled to receive a timetable outlining their timetabled teaching time (classes), non-contact time and PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time. In some schools, a teacher’s only non-contact time might be their PPA time. PPA time should be calculated as 10% of a teacher’s timetabled teaching time. For example, if you have 20 hours of classroom teaching, you should receive a guaranteed 2 hours of PPA time in which you are able to choose how you spend the time, regarding planning, preparing lessons and assessing work. In practice, many teachers plan together in a year group or subject area, but it is designed to be the teacher’s time to decide what to do.

Any other hours of non-contact time (free periods – more likely in secondary school teaching) are still part of directed time. PPA time should be clearly marked on your timetable during the hours that pupils are taught. Th NEU does not think it is good practice for PPA time to be the only non-contact time teachers have in the school day.

In addition, an NQT is entitled to an additional 10% time off -timetable to undertake appropriate supportive activities, be mentored and spend extra time in non-contact work. 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.

All teachers working the morning and afternoon session, are entitled to a lunch break of a reasonable length between 12pm and 2pm. You should not be required to undertake midday supervision duties and, if you volunteer to do so, are entitled to a free school meal. Some schools offer teachers paid time on a separate contract. The NEU advises that you need an uninterrupted lunch break in order to eat, rest and be ready for the afternoon’s work.

Directed time is the hours your head teacher can direct what activities you undertake. Teachers should be available for work on 195 days a year, 190 of which are for teaching pupils. Across the academic year, your directed hours are 1265, or pro-rata for part-time staff.  The 1256 hours should include all face-to-face teaching, parent-teacher meetings, data submissions, report writing, and occasional cover. It should also include all staff meetings, for example whole staff briefings, departmental meetings, year group meetings and pastoral time. It is good practice for schools to have processes in place to avoid any teacher having to attend too many meetings after school hours.

The NEU believes that requests for teachers to be in school before or after school sessions should be kept to a minimum and if you have concerns always speak to your NEU rep or conctact the advice line at the NEU.

The five non-pupil contact days are typically used for new year planning, whole school CPD and vital updates from the MAT or local authority, for example on safeguarding. Schools can decide for themselves when these are set, with agreement from governors, and some of these can be twilight CPD sessions. The total for inset should be the equivalent of 5 normal school days and should be communicated with plenty of notice, ideally before the start of each academic year.

Teachers should not be asked to cover for planned absences such as training courses, maternity leave and long-term sickness (to cite a just a few examples) and never in PPA time or NQT protected time. The 1265 hours limit does not apply to teachers on the leadership pay scale.  You should not be asked to carry out routine administration duties that do not require the skills and professional judgement of a teacher.

Parent-teacher meetings often take place in the evening, as this a convenient time for parents; however, your school still has a duty of care with regard to work-life balance, and the time should be part of the 1265 hours’ directed time.

These entitlements come from the STPCD which applies to teachers in local authority schools, or in a foundation or voluntary aided school. If you are employed by an academy, you should check your contract of employment but if your employment transferred from a local authority, foundation or voluntary-aided school to an academy, your contractual rights should have been transferred under legislation known as TUPE rights. Academies often follow the STPCD because the NEU and other teachers’ unions support this approach, and because it is more complex to administer different sets of terms and conditions.

In addition, the STPCD (School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document) stipulates that teachers work additional hours in order to fulfil their professional role. This is a bit of a catch-all and the NEU knows that teachers regularly work many more hours than this. As a result, the NEU’s workload campaign continues and whilst we recognise the DfE has taken steps to mitigate teachers’ workload, there is much more to be done to address the drivers of workload. These include the Ofsted inspection regime, high-stakes testing and funding levels that mean schools struggle to employ staff in sufficient numbers. 

The NEU works hard to protect your working time. We are here to support you if you feel that your working time is impacting negatively- on your work-life balance and mental health, or if directed time regulations are not being adhered to.