Frequently Asked Questions

Click on "More" for more detailed information.

These are just quick reference hints. For actual casework queries members should contact their local NUT Secretary for individualised advice.


Absence: What is my entitlement for leave of absence in term time? See Absence factsheet.


Administration of medicines: Do I have to agree to take charge of pupils' medication and ensure that they are taken?

- No. Suffolk CC policy makes it clear that teachers are not required to have anything to do with medication. Members should not agree to "oversee" children taking medicines or accept responsibility for medicines in any way. This includes epipens: teachers must not administer injections unless they hold proper medical qualifications. More (Suffolk NUT factsheet "Administration of Medicines")


Damage to cars (and other personal property) on school premises: My car was damaged when parked in the school car park. Can I claim from the school for repairs and losses?

Yes: The Burgundy Book (National Conditions of Service) refers to ex gratia payments for damage and loss of personal property (More). Suffolk LEA has issued guidance for schools, which includes advice about considering "sympathetically" claims from teaching staff. Suffolk NUT has also issued advice on what to do, including reporting to the police. The NUT also has a group insurance policy which can help, but this is subject to excess clauses. Full details.


Heating in Schools: Teachers have a duty of care to themselves and to their pupils. If temperatures in teaching rooms fall below 18ºC (64.4ºF) and this cannot be quickly remedied, the teacher should request an alternative room. If conditions are hazardous to health the teacher may be expected to withdraw, with the class, to a warmer place, awaiting alternative accommodation. If no alternative is available, the Headteacher must consider closing all or part of the school. The school's severe weather guidance to staff and parents should indicate what action will be taken in the event of such an emergency. Members must not subject themselves or their pupils to unhealthy temperatures, which could be considered negligence. Advice in an emergency from NUT Regional Office: 01638 663428. Full written guidance from the NUT is available on www.suffolknut.org.uk/heating.doc


Invigilation: Are there any circumstances where a teacher can be expected to invigilate an examination, including SATs?

- No. Invigilators should be trained and employed to do this task. A teacher can be required to assist in other ways in the running of examinations (e.g. ensuring access for children with special needs, checking examination question papers, "crowd control" before and after examination sessions, etc. where the professional knowledge and skills of a teacher are requried. But this is not "invigilation". Full guidance on invigilation was sent to NUT Reps in March 2006.


Management Points: Do they still exist?

No new Management Points can be awarded.  Since January 1st 2006, any new appointments to promoted posts must be to TLRs or SEN allowances (or, of course Leadership Posts).

Any temporary management allowances (which were temporary on December 31st 2005) had to cease by December 31st 2006.

Those on permanent management allowances on January 1st 2006 have the casch value of that allowance safeguarded up to December 31st 2009, provided that remain in that post.  By that time, the Union expects that all NUT members who had a management allowance in 2005 to have been assimilated into the new structure with at least as good remuneration as before.  Members who suffer any detriment from re-structuring should contact the Union.


Maternity: Do relaxation classes and aqua natal classes count for time off for ante-natal care purposes?

- Yes. More.


Minimum temperatures: see Heating


Observations: How often do I have to be observed?

For Performance Management, NUT guidelines are that there should be just one observation a year, lasting not more than one hour. If the observed teacher wishes to request a second, that should be accepted.

There is no set limit to other forms of observation, but NUT Reps should ensure that it is "reasonable" and contact the NUT Regional Office if there are difficulties.

Summary of NUT policy and guidance on classroom observations. Excessive classroom observation is a serious problem in many schools. Steps must be taken to prevent this. NUT school representatives should seek to secure from the SMT an agreement on the total amount of classroom observation for any purpose or purposes to which teachers can be subjected within the academic year and to the procedures to be followed before, during and after such observations. Support for such approaches may be sought from representatives of other teachers' organisations at the school If the agreement with the school management team cannot be reached, NUT school representatives should seek advice and support from the NUT Regional office." Further help is on the national website on (1) OFSTED observation; (2) Observation of NQTs, (3) Peer observation; (4) Performance Management (no more than one observation of no more than one hour per year) and (5) Capability Procedure observations.

Headteachers, line managers and LEA officers may wish to observe teachers' lessons as part of the headteacher's statutory duty to "evaluate the standards of teaching and learning in the school". This may involve classroom observation, although it is not normally necessary for these to be whole lesson observations. Normally the purpose would be to evaluate the effectiveness of whole-school policies or some focus on a school development plan action point.

There should be a reasonable amount of time between classroom observations irrespective of the purpose of those observations. A bunching of classroom observations, albeit for different purposes, is unacceptable. The NUT advises that head teachers should consult on the pattern of classroom observation which teachers can expect annually.

Teachers should be observed on an equitable basis, that is, all teachers should have a comparable number of observations per teacher per year.

Theachers should be made aware in advance of the purpose or purposes of any proposed observation.

They should be conduct in a supportive and professional manner and should be neither intrusive nor threatening, and abide by the principles of:

If a teacher believes that observation has been carried out in an intimidating, intrusive way, this could constitute bullying or harassment.

Observations must not involve additional workload for teachers (e.g. by requiring a different quantity or presentation of lesson notes than the teacher would normally have prepared.


Planning: Is my planning load unreasonable?

Many schools expect unnecessary and unreasonable amounts of planning and copies of short-term lesson notes to be filed, etc. These are not necessary. The NUT, DfES and OFSTED have all produced guidelines which can be applied in all schools:

See NUT Guidelines

See DfES Guidelines


P&P - Private and Personal Leave: What arrangements are there for me to take urgent leave for private and personal reasons? See Absence factsheet


PPA - Planning Preparation and Assessment Time: What is my contractual entitlement to PPA?

- See full text of the regulation from the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document.


Part-timers: Working Time: Can part-time teaching staff be required to work at a school on a day (or after the pupil day) on which they are not contract to that school?

- No, this would not be considered a reasonable or "lawful" direction, because the part time teacher could be contracted elsewhere , to another school or employer, on that day. For example, a teacher working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at school A, and Thursday and Fridays at school B, could not be directed to attend a PD day or staff meeting on a Friday at school A, as (s)he would already be contracted to school B for that day. As with all after-school events, the calendar published in advance to provide adequate notice , should indicate which after-school events full time staff are direct to attend. Heads need to stipulate which after-school events part-timers will be directed to attend (which should normally be pro rata and must be on days when they are contracted to work at that school). Part-time staff may well be invited to attend at other times but cannot be directed.

The Union advises headteachers that it is a recommended practice to agree with part-time teachers, before the school year (or contract) begins, which PD days and other events outside the pupil day the head considers "directed time". These must usually be on a working day for that teacher at that school, although it is always possible for the school to pay extra hours for the teacher to come in on another day (e.g. for Professional Development training). This should be considered "negotiable".


Part Timers pay and conditions: see main briefing paper

Very IMPORTANT: Part-timers and supply teachers have to opt in to the pensions scheme if wishing to remain in the TP scheme.. Many part-time and supply teachers do not realise until some time later that they stopped paying into the pension scheme when they ceased to be part-time. As soon as a teacher starts working on a part-time contract, Payroll will automatically stop deducting superannuation contributions, unless the teacher specifically returns asks the LEA or Teachers Pensions for a form 261 electing to (re-)join the pension scheme. This is available from the LEA or on-line from the Teachers' Pensions Website


Part-Timers and TLRs: If a part-timer as a full-time responsibility, shouldn't they have the full-time value of the TLR Allowance? - Yes, see briefing.


Pensions and going part-time: If I go part time will I lose the pension I have already accrued?

No: Going part-time does not reduce the "average" salary on which your pension is based, because the pension entitlement you have accrued is always calculated with reference to your full time salary rate.. So, if you do 39 years full time and then go to 0.5 fte for the last year before you retire, your pension would be 39.5 fortieths of your "final average salary". Of course, at 0.5 fte you will need to work another 2 years before gaining another 40th pension entitlement.


Pensions and Final Salary: What is my "final salary"?

- Final average salary for pensions purposes: this is the best 365 days full time rate over the three years before you retire. Normally this will be the rate at which you were paid for the previous 12 months before retiring.


Resignation Dates: Normally teachers can only terminate their employment at the end of the term, and 2 months notice is required (or 3 months in the Summer). So there are just three normal deadlines for resignations to be received in writing for the end of therm. They are:

February 28th (29th) for the end of the Spring Term (normally Easter)
May 31st for the end of the Summer Term
October 31st for the end of the Autumn Term (Christmas)

If you wish to be released from your contract at other times, it might be possible. Contact your local association secretary for assistance.


Retirement Age: Can I continue to work as a teacher after age 65?

- In general, "No". Although the Government is intent on making 65 the earliest age at which you can take the full pension (and presumably raising the age of enforced retirement to 70) this has not happened yet.

So the current situation is that teachers have a right to work until the end of the term in which they have their 65th birthday. Teachers can still be employed beyond age 65, however this is entirely at the discretion of the individual employer, and therefore they may be offered temporary or termly contracts or the employer may refuse to continue to employ them.


School Meals: Do I have to pay for a school meal if I am on duty at lunchtime?

- No: if you work with pupils during the lunchtime (such as a lunchtime club) or agree to do a lunchtime duty (with must be voluntary) then you are entitled to a free meal. Conversely, if you pay for a school lunch, then you are entitled to eat it away from the pupils. The 1965 school meal agreement still applies and is part of the national conditions of service document (The Burgundy Book).


SEN AUDIT: Do I have to do the audit? Do I have to provide information for the Audit? How can I cut down on the work? Should I expect remission of teaching time in order to fulfil my duties for the Audit?

- The Audit is not a statutory obligation or condition of service, but without it the school and SEN pupils will not get any SEN funding. The NUT is actively pursuing the LEA to reduce any duplication of effort (with other, statutory assessments) and to reduce the workload involved both in the audit and in moderation. Full interim advice was circulated in January 2004.


Severe Weather / Snow: If my school is closed to pupils, do I have to report for work?

- Only if it is safe to do so : The Acting Director of Education wrote to all Suffolk Schools in 2003 withdrawing previous advice suggesting teachers should report to their nearest school.  This no longer applies. The advice from Suffolk LA now is: "All staff have a duty to attend their place of work if they can, and if the Headteacher has decided to close the school to pupils for the day, this should not in itself prevent staff from reporting for work. Staff should decide for themselves their proper course of action, bearing in mind that they are not expected to put themselves at risk by travelling in severe weather conditions. It is expected that all Headteachers will discuss in advance with their staff arrangements appropriate to their school. Suffolk NUT advises members to tune into local radio and follow the advice of police in the area in which you live. If police are advising people in your area not to travel, members should contact their school as soon as possible to inform the headteacher. Schools should have a well-advertised method of reporting difficulties, out of school hours, including alternatives if, as often happens in such emergencies, the telephone and Internet networks are saturated or fail. If the school is closed to pupils, but you believe that it is safe for you to travel from home to work, you should do so, unless the headteacher (or other authorised line manager) specifically directs you otherwise.

Update: Suffolk Authority issued a "Severe Weather Briefing Note" to the Teachers' JNC, April 2008.  A further, revised Severe Weather Briefing was published as a draft in November 2010 encouraging Heads to stay open whenever possible. Final wording still awaited.


What is Unprofessional Conduct?: