Working time


Teachers’ working hours can feel more complicated than many other professions as teachers are often expected to work as much as is reasonable to be able to effectively discharge their professional duties. With planning, marking, parents’ evenings, open days, revision sessions and CPD, after school or lunch time 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.

Your 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. 

The legal picture

The Education Act 2002 makes it a requirement that the pay and conditions of  teachers in maintained schools in England and Wales are in accordance with an order issued by the Secretary of State, issued as the ‘School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document’.

This mean that if you work in a maintained school, the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2014 sets out the statutory requirements the use of your working time. Your school policies – outlined in your 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.

The process

Your contract should set out the expectations around your working hours. If you are teaching in a maintained school, this will be in accordance with the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document 2014 (STPCD). If you are teaching in an academy or independent school, your contract may vary. Your contract will set out:

  • The number of days in a school year that you are expected to work, and the number of these days that are teaching days (paragraph 52.18 of the STPCD: 190 days of the school year with pupils, 5 days a year for other work).
  • The number of hours of ‘directed time’ you are expected to work – that is time that can be directed by your head teacher as to when and where it takes place. This includes teaching time, PPA time, time for meetings, parents evenings, open days, CPD etc. (paragraph 52.21 of 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.
  • How much planning preparation and assessment time (PPA time) should be allocated as part of your timetable within directed time (paragraph 63.5 of the STPCD states this should be no less than 10% of your timetable).
  • It will also set out expectations for breaks (paragraph 53.3 of the STPCD sets out a requirement for at least one break each teaching day between school sessions).
  • If you are a part time teacher, a trainee teacher or NQT on an induction programme, your contract should specify how the above relates to you (paragraphs 52.22-52.27 of the STPCD guidance outline the working time for part time teachers; paragraph 53.10 explains that teachers on induction programmes should work no more than 90% of a teacher’s timetable).

Schools will include in their school policies an outline of which CPD activities or out-of-school hour learning activities may occur outside of directed time, and therefore be paid above the contracted pay. They 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. 


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

Next steps

Edapt teachers can access HR advice and legal information by phone, email or web chat to answer any questions about their working time or other employment conditions. Click here to find out more about our services and how to sign up.