Directed time is when teachers are directed by their head teacher to be at work and available for work.

As education continues to be impacted by coronavirus, ensuring all National Education Union members have agreed and negotiated directed time calendars becomes even more important. Using our resources below work with other NEU members in your workplace to make sure you’re not working above your #DirectedTime.

The coronavirus pandemic had highlighted inequalities that exist across our society. Women make up 76% of the NEU membership and the teaching profession generally. Having a directed time calendar will support Head Teachers and governing bodies in their obligation to provide a reasonable work/life balance for all staff.

What is directed time?

Directed time is when teachers are directed by their head teacher to be at work and available for work. This is a maximum of 1,265 hours per academic year, spread over 195 days. Directed Time has not been removed or suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Teachers can be required to teach on 190 days, the maximum length of the pupil year.  They can also be required to work a further five non-teaching (usually inset) days, the hours for which count towards the 1,265 hour limit. Part-time teachers work the prorated equivalent according to the fraction of full-time pay they receive (see below).

The following must be part of directed time for full and part-time teachers: 

  • Teaching time,
  • PPA time,
  • Break times (but not lunchtimes, when teachers can’t be required to do this),
  • Cover,
  • Parents evenings,
  • After school meetings,
  • Anything else which teachers are “directed” to do and which requires their professional skills. 

The full list is in sections 51 & 52 of the 2020 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).

All schools should have a calendar of the activities which make up teachers’ directed time – published in the summer term for the next academic year and consulted on with staff via trade unions. They should also give each teacher their own personal directed time calendar showing their individual commitments.

Schools should not allocate the maximum 1,265 hours to each teacher – they are advised to allow a contingency in order to cover unexpected additional events and commitments (though these should be rare and subject to consultation with staff). 

NEU reps/members should ask their head or leadership team for the directed time calendars for both individuals and departments with the school’s calculation of directed time during the summer term term (if it has not been provided) and ensure staff are consulted before it is implemented.

Act now to win a directed time calendar in your workplace

  1. Organise a meeting of members to discuss directed time – A directed time calendar is a contractual right for teachers and there should be an annual discussion about the calendar that sets out the details of teaching staff working time in the forthcoming academic year. 
  2. If this is something that doesn’t usually happen at your school, use the members meeting to agree that the rep/s will speak to the head about a DT calendar, examples of calendars are available here.
  3. Meet with the head to ensure that a DT calendar with a maximum 1265 hours will be issued following consultation and any areas of concern will be discussed fully with the union. 
  4. Meet again with members to discuss your head’s response and decide your next steps.
  5. If you have concerns about the calendar, use the Excel pro forma to calculate the hours of you and your colleagues. 
  6. If you need any support, contact your branch secretary.

Let's stop the clock

The aim of our directed time calendar is to support you to work together with members at your school to improve working conditions, identifying one key issue per term.

A directed time calendar is important to ensure teachers’ hours are reasonable and is standard practice within the profession. Head teachers also find directed time calendars help with resourcing and ensuring staff wellbeing.

We hope this booklet is useful to you and your members and that together you can use this to help you Winning at Work. You can share your stories with us via . Use the poster when you call a meeting.

Winning on directed time

Do you have story about winning at your workplace? Let us know by emailing


Calculating part-time teachers’ working time

Part-time teachers’ directed time should calculated on the same basis as their pay – by comparing the hours they have worked with the school’s timetabled teaching week (STTW). For example, a part-time teacher who works 15 teaching hours in a STTW of 25 hours should be paid at 60% of the full time pay rate and can be required to work 60% of the 1,265 hours of ‘directed time’ which a full-time teacher is contractually required to work annually.  This would be made up of a maximum of 585 hours of teaching time (15 hours for 39 weeks of term time) and a maximum of 170.1 hours (755.1 hours – 585 hours) for directed time for non-teaching duties.

Want more help or advice on how to win on directed time in your workplace?

Your first point of contact for advice and support from the union should be your NEU workplace representative.

If you don't know who that is, contact your branch or district. You can get contact details by telling us which local authority you work in:

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