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Directed Time in England

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Directed time

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) requires a teacher employed full time to be available for work on 195 days in any school year, of which 190 of those days the teacher may be required to teach pupils and perform other duties as described in the STPCD, and five days in which the teacher may only be required to perform other duties. Such a teacher may be required to teach and perform other duties for 1,265 hours (directed time) each year, allocated reasonably throughout those days in the school year on which s/he is required to work.

In addition, a teacher is required to work “such reasonable additional hours as may be needed to enable the effective discharge of their professional duties”. This work should be focused on planning and preparation and assessing, recording and reporting. The time and place are to be determined by the teacher. However, the requirement to work additional hours is subject to, and in the context of, the entitlement to enjoy a reasonable work/life balance, outlined in Section 4 of the STPCD. Under Section 2 of the 2008 STPCD, schools are required to ensure that they “have regard to the desirability of teachers at the school being able to achieve a satisfactory balance between the time required to discharge their professional duties...and the time required to pursue their personal interests outside work”.

In addition, the Section 3 Statutory Guidance within the STPCD includes the statement that: “The relevant body should ensure that...they consult with all staff and their union representatives on the teaching timetable and an annual calendar which includes staff meetings, parental consultations and other activities”.

NASUWT Representatives and members should draw this to the attention of the school leadership with a view to securing compliance with the provisions and to developing an acceptable and reasonable annual calendar and time budget covering the directed time. This is very important for all teachers but is of particular significance for part-time teachers as both their pay and working time is now, as a result of changes to the STPCD, benchmarked against the pay and working time of a full-time teacher occupying a comparable post.

The directed time calendar is now a critical part of the planning for rarely cover (see the rarely cover advice below).


Time budget and calendars

Every individual teacher not paid on the leadership spine should have a time budget that details how the 1,265 hours of time specified in the contract for reasonable direction by the headteacher will be allocated. Once published, this should not be changed unless there are exceptional circumstances and then only in consultation with the teacher.

School sessions, in the 195 days when teachers are required to be available for work, will account for a significant proportion of the directed hours.

A calendar of meetings for the academic year should be published in advance of the start of the academic year. The days of the week on which meetings will be held at the end of school sessions should be identified so that teachers can plan their personal activities. This is also critical for teachers with carer responsibilities. Once published, the days identified should not be changed unless there are exceptional circumstances and then only in consultation with the teacher.

NASUWT Representatives and members should ensure that consultation on the annual calendar and time budget includes the so-called ‘buffer time’ at the start and end of the school day. If this is directed, it is included in the time budget.


Meetings

The NASUWT maintains that teachers not on the leadership spine should attend only one meeting per week outside pupil session times.

Those on the leadership spine should seek to agree a limit on the number of meetings they should attend per week outside school session times. The entitlement to a achieve a satisfactory work/life balance also applies to them.

Meetings should normally be no more than one hour in length and should have published agendas, be effectively chaired and have clear outcomes. Teachers should not provide ‘secretarial support’ at meetings by taking formal minutes or verbatim notes.

Teachers cannot be directed to attend meetings during the lunch break. They should not be encouraged to attend or volunteer to do so. Meetings should not be arranged during the lunch break.


Parental consultation

The NASUWT recommends that teachers should only attend one parental consultation per year for each year group. These meetings should be counted as directed time and identified in the calendar of meetings.

In a week where there is a parental consultation meeting scheduled, no other meeting should be calendared to take place.


Open evenings

There is no requirement for teachers to attend open evenings. However, where they agree to attend, these should count against directed time and against the weekly total of meetings.


Planning, preparation and assessment

This is a major source of workload in many schools, particularly primary schools. All teachers should have a guaranteed minimum of 10% timetabled planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time. This counts towards the directed time total. This is intended to relieve some of the existing workload pressure and remains to be used as the individual teacher chooses. PPA cannot be used for any other activity and should be marked on the timetables.

In all schools, the planning process should be agreed, simple and streamlined. It should not require teachers to transpose information from one planning sheet to another for any reason, including monitoring. Where collaborative planning is required outside pupil session times, this should count as the weekly meeting for those teachers who are involved.

The assessment procedure should be a single, simple, integrated system, which has been the subject of consultation with staff and the NASUWT. It should be capable of being accessed by support and administrative staff to enable them to extract data for monitoring and other appropriate purposes.

Agreed marking schemes should be fit for purpose. Highly detailed marking of every piece of work should not be required.

Teachers should only enter data about a pupil once.


Leadership and management time

In addition to PPA, the teachers who have responsibilities are entitled to leadership and management time.

Section 2 of the STPCD states that “a teacher with leadership or management responsibilities is entitled, so far as is reasonably practicable, to a reasonable amount of time during school sessions for the purpose of discharging those responsibilities”.


Pupil reports

Reports to parents, including comments from teachers, need only be made once per year.

Where they have not done so, schools should consider introducing an electronic system for generating reports, which includes a database of standard phrases that can be tailored to suit most circumstances. There is little point in seeking to be original in every report or going beyond a crisp concise format.

Interim reports requiring written comments from teachers should not be undertaken. If the school determines an interim report is required, then it should be capable of being electronically generated from information/data the teacher has recorded once in the agreed assessment system.

Time should be identified in the directed time calendar for producing reports. Some schools use one of the non-pupil days for this.


Governing bodies

In order to reduce workload on school leaders and staff, governing bodies should review:

  • timing, length and frequency of meetings;
  • number, timing and length of subcommittees;
  • the administrative pressures they may be placing on schools and school leaders;
  • demands made by governors on the headteacher and teachers to produce information, reports or to attend meetings.

As a result of the changes to the teacher’s contract, no teacher or headteacher should provide administrative/clerical support for governing bodies.


New initiatives

Schools often suffer from initiative overload. These emanate from a variety of sources, including the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), local authorities (LAs) and within school. Most new initiatives are likely not to be either mandatory or statutory. Therefore, schools, in most cases, have a choice about whether to be involved.

When a school is considering a new initiative/development, it will need to be considered carefully to evaluate its merits and implications for resources, including teachers’ time. Before volunteering the school to participate in any initiative, school leaders should ensure that the representatives of the teacher and support staff unions and staff are consulted fully.


Rarely cover

Schools should have developed a robust system for ensuring teachers rarely cover from 1 September 2009. The information above on directed time and other related issues should be fed into the discussions, particularly when the calendar of events is being considered as referenced in the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group (WAMG) Rarely Cover Implementation Process Guidance.


Further information or assistance

Members needing further information or assistance should contact their Local Association Secretary or National/Regional Centre.

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