There tends to be a difference of provision between schools which have a class based timetable: primaries (including infant, junior, nurseries) and those which are subject based: secondaries (including middle, 6th form). Most secondary schools and some primaries provide PPA time in timetabled sessions or teaching periods. Some primaries use specialist teachers to cover some or all of these sessions. Many primaries provide either a full day every fortnight or half day every week covered by a supply teacher, in-house cover teacher or HLTA.

Schools should have an agreed policy on the provision of PPA time, but they are not required to do so. Most of the issues dealt with here can be anticipated by such a policy and an agreed solution used. Most schools with timetabled sessions of PPA time adopt an even-out approach: loss of one or more blocks of time are presumed to balance out against time gained at another time.

Some of the following questions relate principally to schools which adopt a half or full day provision of PPA time

What is PPA time?

PPA is Planning, Preparation and Assessment time, which was made a statutory right for all teachers, including those in the leadership group, from Autumn 2005. The School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document makes the following points very clear:

PPA time is part of the 1265 directed hours for non-leadership teachers

All teachers with a teaching timetable, including heads and deputies, are entitled to PPA time

PPA time must be no less than 10% of the teacher’s timetabled teaching time

PPA time can only be provided in units of not less than 30 minutes, ‘during those parts of the school time-table in which pupils are taught the core and other foundation subjects or religious education’. If a teacher has 22.5 hours of timetabled teaching time they must receive 2.25 hours of PPA time per week, which can be broken up into blocks but if the school’s pattern is to provide this in 3 blocks none can be shorter than 30 minutes so if the teacher has 2 hours of PPA timetabled, the 15 minutes would have to be rounded up to 30. Alternatively sessions of 1hr and 1 hr 15 minutes would meet the minimum requirement. Fractions of an hour can not be rounded down.

A teacher can not be required to carry out any other duties during their PPA time, including covering for absent colleagues.

Can my school decide not to have PPA time?

PPA time is an entitlement for all teachers in maintained schools.

Who arranges PPA time?

It is the responsibility of the headteacher to ensure that PPA time is planned for and included on the individual teachers’ timetables.

How much PPA time should I be getting?

Each teacher’s PPA time should be a minimum of 10% of the time they spend teaching. This would exclude breaks, assemblies (unless the same person is leading the same assemblies each week and the content is seen as part of the school’s curriculum), non-contact time of any description, registration, form tutor periods and extra curricular activities. Where a 2 week timetable is in use the amount of teaching time should be added up across both weeks and the PPA time likewise spread across the 2 weeks. Secondary and middle school teachers and support teachers would find probably find it easier to simply add the number of their teaching periods together.

How much PPA time should I be getting as an NQT?

NQTs have exactly the same entitlement to PPA time as every other teacher. The only difference concerns the calculation of teaching time: NQTs are entitled to 10% of a comparable teacher’s teaching time as non-contact time each week and this should be deducted from their weekly or fortnightly total before calculating the minimum 10%.

How much PPA time should I be getting on a part-time contract?

Part-time teaching hours can be added up in the same way as for other teachers and 10 % calculated. Taking a school total and then applying a decimal fraction of say 0.6 for a 3/5 days contract is probably not as reliable as the former method.

I am a supply teacher, am I entitled to PPA time?

No. As with many other teacher entitlements guaranteed by the Teachers Pay and Conditions Document, supply teachers do not have any entitlement to PPA. If you are employed on a regular fixed time at the same school for a prolonged period and the school asks you to plan, or just attend planning meetings, as well as mark the work set, then you should discuss an appropriate amount of PPA time with the head.

Can I be directed to undertake particular tasks during my PPA time, e.g. cover for a colleague, attend a course or meeting?

No.  You can be asked but the school can not require it. In the interests of goodwill, smooth running of the school, the welfare of children or simply because it suits you, you might wish to swap your PPA time with another teacher or defer the PPA time to another occasion, that is up to you, but your PPA time is an entitlement, guaranteed by the STPCD, it is not a benefit or privilege. Covering for an absent colleague is specifically mentioned as being unacceptable.

Who sets and marks the work when I am on PPA time?

There is no requirement on a teacher to plan lessons they will not teach but as with other covered lessons, medium term objectives will probably have been planned. If a regular supply teacher, HLTA or in-house cover teacher is used they should plan and mark work.

What happens if the cover teacher is absent?

The school should arrange for a replacement and if that proves impossible and the PPA time can not be provided it should be restored as soon as possible. The school should  cover this eventuality in its policy.

Can my PPA time be included in an INSET day?

No, INSET days are an entitlement to CPD but your head can disaggregate them to be used in other ways for other purposes. PPA time must take place during taught sessions, Any PPA time offered to staff in this way is additional to the 10% entitlement.

Can my head take away my PPA time when granting paid or unpaid leave?

No. The school must decide whether or not to grant paid or unpaid leave in accordance with its normal policy. If your PPA time happens to fall on that day the school’s policy for dealing with such eventualities should be implemented.

What happens if the school is closed on the day I have PPA time?

The school’s policy should anticipate the eventuality of planned closures (Holidays, Election Days) as well as unplanned closures (weather, heating or other service breakdown, illness etc). The principle of even-out works well if the school uses the ‘periods’ model but if PPA time is provided in days or half days the impact is so great that the planned absences should have been anticipated, if they were not then the school should restore the lost time. In the event of an unplanned closure the school should have a policy to cover the eventuality and the result will have to be negotiated.

What happens if I am off  sick on the day I have my PPA time?

If the school has an even-out policy you would simply lose your PPA time, as, by the same principle, if you are off sick for 4 days but return to work on the day you get your PPA time it should not be lost or reduced.

Can my timetabled PPA time be cancelled and given back?

While it is not good practice for schools to cancel PPA time at short notice, unforeseen circumstances can create situations which will inevitably mean that PPA time might have to be cancelled, particularly in Primary Schools. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that the amount of PPA time lost in this way is recorded and given back to the teacher as soon as possible.

There are no stipulations in the STPCD covering this eventuality, so a school policy should attempt to anticipate it.