Q & A
Q Staff have asked whether they can leave the school to work elsewhere during PPA time. I would rather they didn't, as I can see it causing all kinds of complications. Is that reasonable, and more importantly, legal?
A You are acting reasonably and within the law. The purpose of PPA time is to relieve some of the existing workload but also to raise standards by providing structured time for planning, preparation and assessment within the timetabled teaching day. This allocation, which is protected for teachers during the timetabled day, is part of the new 'duties' in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions document.
Q Who should be given 10 per cent PPA time? It's straightforward for full-time teachers but I'm unclear about what to do with part-time staff.
A PPA time applies to all teachers with timetabled teaching commitments, whether employed on permanent, fixed-term, temporary or part-time contracts. A part-time teacher is entitled to PPA time based on the hours taught. If the teacher is agency employed or an LEA teacher, PPA time is not the school's responsibility.
PPA also applies to teachers from overseas without qualified teacher status but employed by the school. A supply teacher directly appointed by the school, for instance a maternity cover, is entitled to the PPA allocation if she or he is planning lessons or actually delivers lessons. This does not apply to the cover time they may have been allocated. An agency appointment is likely to have PPA time calculated within the contract.
NQTs, who already have a 90 per cent teaching commitment, are entitled to PPA time based on the 90 per cent teaching time.
Teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants employed to undertake specified work are not entitled to PPA time. Other specialist staff, such as coaches or local business people who carry out specified work (contracted as support staff) are not entitled to PPA time.
Q The staff at our school teach 21 periods per week. In terms of PPA, 10 per cent of that time makes 2.1 hours. Can I arrange two hours of PPA time or do I have to round up to three hours?
A The guidance makes it clear that in order for the time to be meaningful, it must be allocated in blocks of no less than 30 minutes. Staff may not be prepared to accept a 'neat' solution of offering two hours, but they should accept two and a half hours as the nearest reasonable allocation.
Make sure claims stand up
Q I am a bursar at a large comprehensive. A member of our support staff is currently on long-term sick leave, having recently finished his probationary period. He has been away for five weeks following an accident in which he fell from a windowsill whilst cleaning a ground floor window.
When asked to complete the health and safety incident form, he failed to do so. He returned to work but, after ten days, went off claiming an injury to his other leg. He has now sent me a letter saying that he intends to stay off for another period of three weeks, but there is no doctor's certificate with his letter. I feel my hands are tied. What can I do?
A You should work with your LEA personnel department, on what is currently a mix of disciplinary and illness-related issues. You need to sort out the specifics of what is evidence and what is suspicion before you have a conversation with this employee.
If you are happy that your investigation shows that he is swinging the lead, then there is no reason why you cannot make this a disciplinary matter and utilise the school's disciplinary procedure. If however, it is a genuine sickness matter, then you should have the case referred to your local occupational health department for them to make a proper assessment.
© 2017 Association of School and College Leaders