Workload is the biggest concern of teachers and the most cited reason for teachers leaving the profession prematurely.

Excessive workload and long working hours contribute to high levels of work-related stress, anxiety and burnout and undermine educational standards.

Your wellbeing matters and that’s why it’s time for a limit on workload and working time.

It is vital that members use all available means to take control of their workload and working time.

The NASUWT advises members in all schools to limit their working time by working to contract as follows:

Don’t undertake inappropriately directed duties outside school session times

Members should not undertake directed duties, including attendance at meetings or training, outside school session times on weekdays in circumstances that would require the teacher to:

  • perform duties specified by their employer for more than 1,265 hours in the school year (pro rata for teachers working part-time);

  • breach their right to a satisfactory work/life balance; or

  • exceed the 48-hour working time limit (Working Time Regulations, 1998).

Members may not be directed to undertake extracurricular activities, unless these have been specified and allocated within the annual 1,265 hours of directed time (pro rata for teachers working part-time). Members may choose to volunteer freely to undertake extracurricular activities if they wish to do so.

Where members intend to withdraw from activities that they have previously volunteered to undertake, they should inform the headteacher as soon as possible.

If it is unclear whether the time to perform the duty in question is within the 1,265 hours, members should request their employer to provide a copy of the directed time calendar and perform the duty only if their employer confirms to the member that the time is included within the 1,265 hours of directed time.

Don’t undertake midday supervision of pupils

Unless that is required by and remunerated under a separate, non-teaching contract.

Don’t undertake any work-related tasks or activities during your lunch break

Where a member is required to be available for work for more than one school session on any school day, they should take one break of reasonable length, at least 30 minutes, each day either between school sessions or between the hours of 12 noon and 2.00pm.

Members should refuse to be directed to undertake any activities during their lunch break.

Don’t undertake work-related tasks or activities on weekends or Bank Holidays

Members should refuse to be directed to undertake directed work-related tasks or activities, including planning, marking, sending/responding to work-related emails on weekends or Bank Holidays, or to the extent that would deprive a teacher of a satisfactory work/life balance, unless the teacher’s contract expressly provides for this.

Don’t undertake any other duties during planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time

Members should only carry out planning, preparation, marking and assessment activities during their timetabled PPA time and should not carry out any other duties, including supervision of pupils and attendance at meetings, during their timetabled PPA time.

Don’t cover for absence other than in circumstances that are not foreseeable

Cover for absence is not an effective use of teachers’ time. With the exception of teachers who are employed wholly or mainly for the purpose of providing cover, members should challenge any direction by their employer to cover for absent colleagues in circumstances that are foreseeable.

Absence occurs when the person who has been timetabled to take a particular class or group is absent. The type of absence could be for a variety of reasons, including internal and external activities, as well as sickness. It could be short-term or long-term.

Foreseeable circumstances for a school will include events that may be anticipated on the basis of historic experience, events that are foreseeable in the normal experience (e.g. sickness absence, maternity leave) and events that may be expected as part of the evolving pattern of provision (e.g. educational visits).

Don’t undertake routine administrative and clerical tasks

Members should not routinely to participate in administrative, clerical and organisational tasks which do not call for the exercise of a teacher’s professional skills and judgement, including those associated with the arrangements for preparing pupils for external examinations such as invigilation.

An illustrative list of non-teaching tasks that members should not undertake is available separately.

In addition, members should notify the Union immediately if there are concerns regarding the following:
  • Mock inspections, 'mocksteds' and 'deep dives'
    Members should not be required to participate in mock inspections or ‘mocksteds’, or other activities not required for the purpose of statutory school inspection.

  • Inappropriate planning, marking and data management policies, practices and initiatives
    Members should not be required to implement any new planning, marking or data management policies, initiatives or working practices which have not been workload impact assessed or subject to consultation and agreement with the NASUWT.

Schools’ marking and assessment policies, including homework policies, planning and data management policies, should comply with the principles of effective marking as set out in the Report of the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group, available on the right/below.

What you can do if you have concerns about workload in your school:

  • Talk to other NASUWT members in the school - you are probably not the only teacher who has concerns. Standing together is the best way to ensure that your concerns are addressed;

  • contact your NASUWT Workplace Representative or your NASUWT Local Association for advice. If you don’t have a rep or are unsure who you should contact, please contact your NASUWT Regional Centre.

The NASUWT is committed to taking action to support members in every school to take control of workload and to secure a limit on workload and working time.