Tackling workload is now a key part of the Union’s Value Education Value Educators campaign.

Please click here for more information on how to tackle workload issues in school.

Covid & Workload

We know that returning to work and managing workload during the Coronavirus pandemic is the priority this term. No member of staff should be expected to take on more than they are contracted to or paid for. Contracts for teaching and support staff are different but many issues will be the same for all staff and NEU school groups should try to organise collectively to address these where possible. See here for some tips on how to organise around an issue in your school.

Working Hours & Workload

Teaching staff cannot be expected or required to work beyond their agreed ‘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, and schools are advised to allow a contingency to cover unexpected events (though these should be rare and subject to consultation with staff).

The pupil year is a maximum of 190 days, but there are 5 inset days. The hours for those inset days count towards the 1265.

Working hours for support staff will be specified in your contract. You cannot be required to work beyond these hours. If you are asked to work over your contractual hours, then you should be paid for any such work. For more on employment rights for support staff see NEU guidance here.

See the National Education Union guidance on the current workload campaign.

Watch this NEU webinar on Winning on working time and tackling workload

Download workload campaign posters for your workplace

What makes up a teacher’s directed time?

The following must be part of a teacher’s directed time:

  • 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 2019 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.

NEU reps/members should ask their head or leadership team for the directed time calendars for both individuals and departments. The school’s calculation of directed time during the summer 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.
  2. Use the Excel pro forma to calculate the hours you and others are working.
  3. If members’ hours exceed 1,265 over the year, ask your head teacher for a meeting to discuss directed time.
  4. Meet again with members to discuss your head’s response and decide your next steps.
  5. If you need any support, contact

Let’s stop the clock

The aim of our new bargaining calendar is to support you to work together with members at your school to improve working conditions, identifying one key issue per term. We want to support you to make sure your school has a directed time calendar, negotiated by you and your union group.

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.

Download the Directed Time Tackle workload booklet

Download a poster for your staffroom: Tackle workload poster

See here for some tips on how to organise in your workplace

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