FAQs

Below are some of our most frequently asked questions.

If your question is not answered here, please contact us.

We have produced a Frequently Asked Questions leaflet to share with your members.

How do I join the NEU?

The easiest way to join is on-line

How can I contact TH&TC NEU?

You can telephone us on 0207 364 5791

You can email us on alex.kenny@exec.neu.org.uk

Our office is at the Shadwell Centre, 455 The Highway, London E1W 3HP

How can I get advice on an issue?

In the first instance contact the advice line more details can be found here

What if the issue affects several members?

Often what can feel like an individual issue is actually of concern to many others. Call a meeting of NEU members in the school to talk about the issue. Contact us.  We are happy to advise you over the phone or come in to school to talk to members.

How can I update my membership details?

Details can be updated by calling the NEU advice line: 0345 811 8111 or more details can be found here.

When and where are General Members’ meetings held?

Meetings are held in Stepney Green School and start at 5:00pm

All members are welcome to attend. We provide food and a crèche or pay childcare expenses.
What are my pay entitlements?

Your school sets your pay within guidelines set every year by the School Teachers Review Body (STRB). In Tower Hamlets we are paid on the Inner London Pay Scale. The TH&TC district has negotiated a model pay policy which we urge all schools to adopt.

For most schools there is a six-point Main Pay Range (M1-M6) and a three-point Upper Pay Range (UPR1 –UPR3).

New teachers start on M1 and should go up a point each September if they have a successful performance review.

After 1 year on M6 you can apply to cross the Threshold. If successful you move on to UPR1 (note: you can now apply to move onto UPR1 before reaching M6).

After 2 years on UPR1 your head can move you to UPR2 after a successful Performance Management Review. After another 2 years you are eligible to move to UPS3, the top of the scale.

You should receive a salary statement each September and should be informed of any decisions about your pay before October 31st.

For more details on pay and pay progression in Tower Hamlets, click here
What is the Teachers’ Pension Scheme?

All teachers, full time and part-time, are automatically placed in the Teachers Pension Scheme.

This is a “defined benefits” scheme in which your pension is based on your salary and length of service. The Teachers Pension Scheme is a very good one and the NEU strongly advises members to stay in it, no matter how long you plan to teach.

Read these factsheets for more information

What is my sick leave entitlement?
  • 1st year of teaching: 25 days full pay and 25 days half pay
  • 2nd Year of teaching: 50 days full pay and 50 days half pay
  • 3rd year of teaching: 75 days full pay and 75 days half pay
  • 4th year of teaching and after: 100 days full pay and 100 days half pay.

You can “self-certify” absences up to 8 days. If your absence is longer than 8 days you must get a doctor’s certificate.

When can I resign?

There are three dates on which teachers can hand in their notice during the course of the year:

  • February 28th to leave at the end of Spring Term
  • May 31st to leave at end of Summer term
  • October 31st to leave at the end of Autumn Term

If you want to resign at any other time you would have to negotiate this with your headteacher. We can often help with this.

What is Directed Time?

Teachers are contracted to be “available for work” 195 days a year190 school days plus 5 INSET days. “Available for work” means just that – you do not have to be in school; you can be on a course, a trip or working at home!

Directed Time describes all the hours where you are “directed” by the head. This includes the school day, break times, after school meetings, parents meetings and so on. Your school should produce a calendar of 1265 hours “directed time” showing how this time is allocated.

Teachers cannot be directed to work during their lunch-time, weekends or holidays.

What is PPA time?

All teachers should have 10% of their weekly timetable allocated as Planning, Preparation and Assessment time. This should be in blocks of at least 30 minutes and it is up to the teacher how to use it.

More guidance on workload, working and PPA time here

What are the rules on cover?

New regulations mean that teachers are no longer required to cover for absent colleagues unless there is an absolute emergency or they are specifically employed to do so. Your school should have an agreed cover policy that reflects this.

Tower Hamlets model cover policy May 2009

Can I take a Leave of absence?

There are a number of reasons for which your head can grant you paid time off work: these include, moving house, religious observance, jury service, international sporting events, death or illness in the family, marriages.

These are best checked with the NEU office if you are not sure about anything.

For other reasons your head may decide to grant you time off but unpaid. You should always be clear whether any time off is paid or unpaid.

If I do take unpaid leave, what deduction will be made? 

If you do have time off unpaid your salary should be deducted at the rate of 1/365 not 1/195. Although we work 195 days we are paid throughout the year hence the lower rate of deduction at 1/365.

Some teachers have had problems with this in the past, which we have been able to resolve, so it is always worth checking.

What is the maternity entitlement?

Teachers are entitled to maternity leave of 1 year. Some of this is paid, and some unpaid.

As a result of campaigning by the NEU, the maternity scheme in Tower Hamlets is one of the best in London. If you have worked in local government (includes teaching) for more than 1 year (including 26 weeks in Tower Hamlets) you benefit from the full scheme:

  • 4 weeks full pay
  • 6 weeks 90% pay
  • 20 weeks half pay plus SMP (£139.58)
  • 9 weeks SMP (£139.58)
  • up to 13 weeks unpaid

You should also read the national guidance ‘Maternity Matters’

maternity-matters-may-2015-edition

What is the entitlement for adoption?

Adoption leave is the same as for maternity leave.

How much paternity leave should I get?

You are entitled to two weeks leave on full pay.

Is there a salary sacrifice scheme for childcare costs?

Tower Hamlets local authority operates a salary sacrifice scheme whereby you can claim a tax rebate on your childcare costs.

For more details call Caroline Pullinger on 020 7364 4405.

How do I apply for part-time working?

For advice and guidance on your rights and entitlements as a part-time worker, please contact the NEU office.

NUT guidance on flexible working

Does my NUT membership include insurance?

Your NEU membership will cover insurance for loss or damage to property at work, it also covers loss or damage to students’ property, which may have been entrusted to the teacher.

If you need to make an insurance claim you should ring 020 7380 4785 as soon as the loss or damage happens.
Can I claim tax relief on my subscription?

Yes! Just e-mail alex.kenny@exec.neu.org.uk for a copy of a model letter to make a claim.

Did you know you are eligible for free eye tests?

Thanks to the NEU, teachers are now in the scheme, which provides free eye tests for council employees who use computers for large parts of their work.

Your school should have a copy of the application form and relevant materials.

Got another question?

If your question has not been covered here, or you want more information, please contact us alex.kenny@exec.neu.org.uk