The importance of planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time is being highlighted through teachers’ conversations up and down the country and in online forums. Why is it important and how can you ensure you’re receiving the right amount of time to carry out PPA activities?

What is PPA?

PPA is a time which is set aside for teachers during a timetabled day to allow them to carry out planning. It’s an allowance of time designed to remove the workload and pressures on teachers every day so they can carry out the administrative based tasks associated with the role. However, as we discussed in a previous blog, even with this time, teachers are still working more hours than they should.

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Who is entitled to PPA?

All teachers who have a teaching timetable are entitled to a minimum of 10% of their timetabled teaching time. This has been the case since 2005 and includes all teachers, head teachers, deputy head teachers, assistant head teachers, advanced skills teachers and teachers with other management and leadership responsibilities. For NQTs, the teaching timetable should not exceed 90% of the time.

How do schools ensure teachers receive PPA time?

Schools and teachers are often stretched for time as it is, so how are school leaders making sure that teachers are receiving enough PPA time? Head teachers can’t direct teachers on how to use their PPA time and it counts towards the 1,265 hours of directed time per year.

Shrinking budgets and increased workloads, however, create a difficult scenario for schools and teachers alike. How are some schools responding to this?

PPA time

Sometimes, some schools are combining classes to free teachers for their PPA time. However, this is not recommended for numerous regions including classroom management and the cover teacher’s workload. Other schools are employing a part-time or full-time teacher to float across classes whilst other teachers use the lesson time to complete PPA tasks. This is the recommended option but, the aforementioned shrinking budgets often mean this cannot be justified.

Teachers are losing PPA time

As expected, due to the time scarcity facing schools, teachers are losing out on valuable PPA time. It only takes a cover teacher to call in sick to throw the whole thing out of sync in most schools. Suddenly, teachers are called in to cover lessons and away from their PPA time.

Against guidelines, some teachers on forums have found that their schools are booking them onto courses during PPA days and time is often not repaid back.

What can be done to protect PPA time?

Schools and school leaders need to protect the sanctity of PPA time. If teachers’ PPA time is protected they are happier and more productive, are better able to stay on top of their work and be better teachers.

Planning is at the heart of being a good teacher; schools can support this by creating realistic schedules that allow teachers to achieve their minimum 10% PPA time. Managing the timetable of class cover should include the likelihood of disruptions through absence which ensures flexible solutions to the problem throughout the week.

It’s the responsibility of school leaders to recognise the importance of PPA time and facilitate it as diligently as possible.