Also see: Directed Time and the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Guide to Directed Time in England

Teachers’ working time
Morning and afternoon breaks
Lunchtime supervision
Saturday, Sunday or public holidays
Guaranteed planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time
Leadership and management time
Part-time teachers and directed time
Other additional hours
Work/life balance
Working Time Regulations
Additional payments and directed time
Teachers on the leadership pay range
Further advice and guidance
Key elements

Working hours are essential in order to help schools and teachers plan so that the school day is effectively managed and teachers are able to achieve a satisfactory balance between work and home. 

Working hours should be set out as part of your terms and conditions when you start work. In schools and colleges this is referred to as directed time.

This guide provides you with key information about your rights at work regarding your working hours/directed time.

Teachers’ working time

The vast majority of publicly funded schools in England operate according to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) which states that a classroom teacher can only be directed by the headteacher to work for up to a maximum of 1,265 hours over 195 days of the year.

A maximum of 190 days involve teaching pupils/students, the remainder being non-teaching days where you may be asked to undertake other duties related to your role as a teacher. These are often known as in-service training days (INSET). These limits do not apply if you are paid on the leadership range.

You should be provided with a directed time budget at the beginning of each academic year based around the school day, which identifies the number of hours you are being directed to undertake the professional duties of a teacher, including your timetabled teaching as well as any meetings and duties such as parental consultations, planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time, leadership and management time (as appropriate) and meetings. (See Key Elements below for further details.)

In schools that operate according to the STPCD, directed time must be allocated reasonably throughout the days you are contracted to work. You do not have to be directed to work right up to the limit of 1,265 hours.

Some academies may operate terms and conditions which do not adhere to the STPCD. They are therefore able to set a different directed time calendar specifying working time, which may be in excess of the 1,265 hours and 195 days a year identified in the STPCD. However, your working time should be clearly defined in your contract of employment. 

Once you have been provided with your directed time budget/calendar, you should not be directed to undertake other duties by your employer.

If you work in a local authority-maintained school in England, the provisions around directed time are statutory and your school cannot choose to ignore them.

Some academies may operate terms and conditions which do not adhere to the STPCD. They are therefore able to set a different directed time calendar specifying working time, which may be in excess of the 1,265 hours and 195 days a year identified in the STPCD. However, your working time should be clearly defined in your contract of employment. 

If you work in an academy in England which has a contract specifying different hours and days, then this should still be provided on an annual basis as part of a directed time budget.

If you are unsure about whether a limit applies to your working time, then please contact the NASUWT for further advice.

Morning and afternoon breaks

Morning and afternoon breaks which are identified on your timetable count as part of your total hours of directed time.

Whilst it is likely that only a small number of staff undertake a duty on a rota basis, it is the case that all staff can be asked to be available for work should such a situation arise which necessitates this (e.g. an emergency).


Assemblies should count as part of your directed time budget.

Lunchtime supervision

Directed time should not include lunchtime supervision as you cannot be directed to work during your lunch break.

Saturday, Sunday or public holidays

The directed time budget cannot place an expectation on you to work on any Saturday, Sunday or public holiday unless this is expressly stated in your contract of employment.

Guaranteed planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time

You are entitled to a minimum of 10% of timetabled teaching time for PPA as part of your hours of directed time. This should be clearly identified on your timetable in blocks that are not less than half an hour.

In most cases, classroom teachers are allocated a minimum of 10% of timetabled teaching time for PPA. Under the STPCD, you cannot be asked to carry out duties other than those involved in planning, preparation and assessment during PPA time.

Leadership and management time

If you are responsible for leading or managing, then you are entitled to a reasonable amount of time during school sessions in order to undertake this. This should be clearly identified on your timetable. 

Whilst there is no minimum amount, if you are in receipt of a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) allowance or paid on the leadership spine, you should be given adequate time to discharge your leadership and management duties which is proportionate to your level of responsibility, in addition to any PPA time allocated.

See further guidance on Leadership and Management Time.

Part-time teachers and directed time

Part-time teachers employed under the terms of the STPCD are expected to have their working hours calculated on a pro rata basis of the 1,265 hours over 195 days that a full-time teacher could be expected to work.

Under the STPCD, the formula used to calculate a part-time teacher’s directed time is very specific and based on the ‘school’s timetabled teaching week (STTW), which takes account of the school session hours that are timetabled for teaching, including PPA time (10% of the timetabled teaching time) and other non-contact time, excluding break times, registration and assemblies, although this does not mean that part-time teachers cannot be required to undertake such duties.

The directed time calculation for part-time teachers should also include any leadership and management time that needs to be allocated, although part-time teachers in the leadership group are not covered by the 1,265 hours for directed time.

Furthermore, the directed time calculation would need to be adjusted accordingly if your school operates a two-week timetable or where different timetables are operated in different parts of your school or across different sites.

No part-time teacher in a maintained or academy school can be required to work or attend non-pupil days, or parts of days, on days they do not normally work, although it may be mutually agreed that you attend staff or departmental meetings on a day you do not normally work. In such circumstances, you should expect to be paid appropriately for this additional time and this should be set out in your school’s pay policy.

Nevertheless, a part-time teacher can be required to undertake work that is within their allocation of directed time beyond that specified in the school’s timetabled teaching week, allocated reasonably on any day or part of any day on which they are required to work. For example, attending a meeting after school on a day when you are working. The STPCD is clear that any such requests should be reasonable given the impact this could have on the ability of a part-time teacher to achieve a satisfactory work/life balance.

However, the STPCD makes it clear that a part-time teacher should not have a greater proportion of their directed time allocated outside their normal sessions than is the case for full-time teachers, as this may amount to discrimination.

Headteachers therefore need to be cognisant of the fact that meetings and other activities outside normal school sessions should minimise situations where part-time teachers are directed to be at school either side of a period when they are not expected to work.

In addition, schools should provide part-time teachers with a written agreed statement which sets out the expectations of the school, and the part-time teacher, regarding the deployment of working time. This should include the timetabled teaching time and leadership and management time, as appropriate, as well as the any directed time that is deployed beyond the school day.

A directed time budget is therefore critical to understanding whether the hours that a part-time teacher works and the duties undertaken are fair and proportionate in comparison to those teachers working full time.

The directed time calendar is a necessity for understanding when a part-time teacher can and cannot reasonably be expected to be in school.

Other additional hours

In addition to the hours for which you can be directed, a teacher may work such reasonable additional hours as necessary. This can include time for planning and preparing lessons and assessing pupils’ work.

However, the number of additional hours cannot be specified by your school. As a consequence, it does not count towards your hours of directed time. 

All work undertaken during non-directed time is determined by the individual teacher and it is up to you to exercise your professional judgement in how you manage this.

Work/life balance

Your school should ensure that you are able to achieve a satisfactory balance between the time required to do your job and time to pursue interests outside work. 

In maintained schools in England, the directed time budget and calendar are essential for you to achieve the work/life balance to which you are entitled.

Working Time Regulations

Schools and employers must ensure that they adhere to the Working Time Regulations (1998) which set a maximum working week of 48 hours, taking into account teachers’ directed time and additional hours of non-directed time.

Additional payments and directed time

A teacher in receipt of additional payments for out-of-school hours learning and continuing professional development (CPD) may be directed to undertake these activities outside their hours of directed time.

Teachers on the leadership pay range

The STPCD provisions regarding directed time do not apply to headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers or teachers on the pay range for leading practitioners. 

However, headteachers are entitled to dedicated headship time which is a reasonable amount of time in order to discharge their responsibilities effectively.

The requirements for school leaders to have an adequate work/life balance continue to apply.


The directed time budget should be negotiated and agreed by the school with the NASUWT. 

Schools/academies should agree with the Union the teaching timetable and directed time calendar which clearly identifies staff meetings, parental consultations and other activities for each academic year.

Further advice and guidance

The NASUWT Directed Time Calculator on the right/below allows you to determine the directed time budget for your school.

For further advice and guidance, please contact the NASUWT.

Key Elements

Listed below are the key elements which should be included in the calculations of a directed time budget.

  • Meetings
    • The days of the week on which meetings will be held at end-of-school sessions should be identified and calculated on a calendar of meetings so that teachers can plan their personal activities.
    • This is especially critical for teachers with carer responsibilities.
    • Once published, this calendar should not be changed unless there are exceptional circumstances and then only in consultation with staff and the NASUWT.
    • It is expected that there should be no more than one meeting per week lasting up to an hour.
    • For teachers on the leadership pay range, there should also be an agreed limit on the number of meetings attended. 
  • Parental Consultation
    • Teachers should only attend one parental consultation per year for each year group which counts towards directed time. In an academy not operating STPCD, attendance at parental consultations counts towards directed time.
    • The time and dates of the meetings should be identified in the calendar of meetings.
    • In a week where there is a parental consultation meeting scheduled, no other meeting outside school sessions should be calendared to take place.
  • Buffer Time
    • In most schools there is a period of ‘buffer time’ before and after each of the school sessions.
    • This buffer time should be no more than ten minutes and you may be allocated on-site supervisory duties during this time.
  • Open Evenings
    • There is no requirement under STPCD for teachers to attend open evenings, but if you do it should count against your 1,265 hours for directed time. If there is a contractual requirement for teachers to attend open evenings, this will count against the hours for directed time.
  • Trapped Time
    • If there is any gap between the end of the school day and the start of a meeting where there has not been sufficient time for a teacher to go home and return, then this is referred to as ‘trapped time’. 
    • This time should be counted as directed time.
  • Break times
    • Morning or afternoon breaks which are identified on your timetable count as part of your 1,265/contracted hours of directed time.

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