The Workload Agreement

Working with unions, managers and employers, the government sought to identify positive ways to tackle teachers' excessive workload by creating the Workload Agreement in 2003.

A major part of addressing workload was the greater involvement of support staff in the delivery of education. These measures were phased in from 2003-2005 for schools in England and Wales. Similar arrangements exist for teachers in maintained schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Workload Agreement states that teachers in the maintained sector should have:

  • a reasonable work life balance (with headteachers responsible for ensuring this)

  • teachers should now not routinely be required to undertake a list of 21 administrative tasks

  • a timetable that provides for the reasonable allocation of time in support of their leadership and management responsibilities

  • a 38-hour limit on the amount of cover for absent colleagues they can be required to do in each academic year, with an intention to reduce this requirement continually to the stage where teachers will rarely be required to cover

  • a guaranteed 10 per cent of their timetabled teaching to be used as preparation, planning and assessment (PPA) time during the school day.

Who does it apply to?

While the Workload Agreement only applies to the maintained sector in England and Wales it is clearly a very useful benchmark for all teachers, whether working in the maintained or independent sectors, and independent schools are already using it in their discussions about tackling excessive teacher workload.

The Curran Inquiry into pay and conditions for teachers in maintained schools in Northern Ireland recommended a contextualised Northern Ireland version of the workload agreement, to establish a guaranteed 10% of timetabled teaching time for PPA, and to establish a Northern Ireland version of routine tasks.

Other recommendations included provision for support staff, consideration of work/life balance issues, teacher cover, leadership and management responsibility, teaching principals contact time, and a review of school closure days.

The pay and conditions of service for teachers in maintained schools in Scotland are governed by the 2001 teachers' agreement A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century, which introduced a new negotiating framework: the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT). In the Handbook of Conditions of Service agreed by the SNCT can be found information about the main duties expected of teachers and lecturers, and their working week and working year.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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