How much time am I entitled for school break times?


School break times are valuable if you actually manage to take them properly.

You are expected to work as much as is reasonable to be able to effectively discharge your professional duties. With planning, marking, parents’ evenings, open days, revision sessions and after school activities, it is important teachers are able to manage their working time in such a way that allows them to perform well and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

It should be noted that all teachers are entitled to lunch and break times. However, the length of break and lunch times will be different from school to school.

Your employment contract should therefore make clear what time is ‘directed time’, ‘PPA time’, ‘teaching time’, ‘time for meetings’ or ‘CPD’, and what responsibilities outside of your contract may be eligible for additional pay.

In this article, we outline the hours you are expected to work and what to do if you feel you are exceeding your contracted working hours.

School break times and working time

If you work in a maintained school, the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) sets out the statutory requirements of the use of your working time. Your employment contract or employee handbook will outline how your school implements these requirements.

If you work in an academy or independent school, your school will set its own pay and conditions policies, which should be outlined in your contract or employees handbook. Your contract should be in accordance with The Working Time Regulations which are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.

Your contract should set out the expectations for your working hours. If you are teaching in a maintained school, this will be in accordance with the STPCD. If you are teaching in an academy or independent school, your contract may vary.

The amount of working days

The number of days in a school year that you are expected to work, and the number of these days that are teaching days. The STPCD states:

  • You are expected to work 190 days of the school year with pupils
  • You are expected to work 5 days a year for additional duties

Hours of ‘directed time’

The number of hours of ‘directed time’ you are expected to work. Directed time is time that can be directed by your headteacher as to when and where it takes place. This includes teaching time, PPA time, time for meetings, parents’ evenings, open days and CPD sessions.

The STPCD sets out that teachers should have 1265 hours of directed time. Work such as planning or marking, that falls outside of this time cannot be directed, so you are free to do the work when and where suits you.

Hours for PPA time

How much planning preparation and assessment time (PPA time) should be allocated as part of your timetable within directed time. The STPCD states this should be no less than 10% of your timetable.

School break times: at least one break for each teaching day

The STPCD also sets out expectations for breaks. You are entitled for at least one break each teaching day. Where a teacher is employed under the STPCD, his/her morning and afternoon breaks should be counted as directed time, and he/she may be required to be on duty during these breaks. For teachers not employed under the term of the STPCD, such arrangements will be subject to the provisions in their contract of employment.

Hours for part-time teachers, trainee teachers and ECTs

If you are a part-time teacher, a trainee teacher or ECT on an induction programme, your contract should specify how the information above relates to you. The STPCD outlines the working time for part-time teachers and explains that teachers on induction programmes should work no more that 90% of a teacher’s timetable.

Hours for CPD activities

Schools will include in their policies an outline of which CPD sessions or out-of-school activities may occur outside of directed time, and therefore be paid above the contracted pay. Schools should have a pay policy indicating how much these activities should be paid. You may be asked to work outside of your contracted time, and it is then at your discretion as to whether you choose to do this.

What happens if I suspect my school is not granting me full school break times?

The working time limits are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive. Schools which fail to comply with these limits could be prosecuted for committing a criminal offence. However, if you are aggrieved by your employer’s disregarding of the working time limits or the entitlements to breaks you are also entitled to pursue a claim in the employment tribunal within three months of the incident.

Edapt has produced another article explaining what employment tribunals are.

Further advice

If you have concerns about your timetable or use of directed time, we can help you with advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.