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Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA)

PPA entitlement and requirements

PPA time was introduced in 2005 to relieve workload pressures and support teachers in achieving a reasonable work/life balance. All teachers are entitled to a minimum of 10% of their timetabled teaching time as PPA time. The precise number of hours will depend upon the teaching timetable of the individual concerned and part-time staff will therefore receive a pro-rata amount.

All of the following staff will have an entitlement to PPA time.

  • Teachers - regardless of hours worked or whether they are employed on a temporary or fixed-term basis.
  • Headteachers - against the time that they are timetabled to teach.
  • NQT's - are entitled to 10% PPA time in addition to the 10% NQT induction time.
  • Non-QTS Instructors - are entitled to PPA time provided they are employed as a unqualified teacher.
  • Part-time music teachers - are entitled to PPA time, although if they are employed through the Music Service the provision should be detailed within the SLA agreement under which this service is purchased.
  • Floating/cover teachers - are only entitled to PPA time for teaching commitments that are timetabled. Where teachers are purely undertaking cover ie delivering the plans produced by another teacher and are not required to engage in planning, preparation and assessment for that lesson, PPA time will not be accrued against this time.
  • Supply teachers - who are employed directly by the school (or through the supply list) will only be entitled to PPA time if they are required to undertake a significant proportion of the normal planning, preparation and assessment duties of a teacher. This is unlikely to be the case for the majority of short-term supply work required. If the supply teacher is engaged through an agency, it will be the responsibility of the agency to provide PPA time and not the school, although schools should look carefully at the contract detail for specific agencies as the contractual "small print" may vary this position.

As can be see from this list, entitlement to PPA time is a contractual right for those employed under the provisions of the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document. These provisions do not extend to teaching assistants and Higher Level Teaching Assistants  but there are benefits in releasing non-teaching staff to plan and prepare with teachers.

The calculation of PPA time

Only teaching time provided within a teacher's 1,265 contracted (directed) hours will count when calculating entitlement to PPA time. Other forms of pupil contact (eg assembly, lunch, break, out of school pastoral activities) will not count when calculating PPA time. There are no separate provisions for church schools. The position for all schools is the same ie collective worship and assembly will not be included in calculation PPA time. In a few schools an assembly may be deemed to be a lesson (eg PSHE, citizenship) provided there are clear teaching and learning goals and outcomes. In these circumstances the assembly can be included in calculating PPA time.

The regulations included a clause which protected pre-existing dedicated PPA time. However, it is important to distinguish between release time provided specifically for planning, preparation and assessment and non-contact time provided specifically for undertaking planning, preparation and assessment will be protected by the no detriment clause.  In a number of schools the varied nature of teaching commitments means that some teachers in any one year may receive more than 10% non-contact time. It is important in the light of the no detriment provision that the purpose of this non-contact time is clearly identified in the timetable distinguishing between that which is guaranteed PPA provision and that which is for other ‘school development activities’, the time for which may increase or decrease year on year.

The requirement for PPA time to be shown on the timetable

The regulations specify that PPA time must be provided in minimum blocks of 30 minutes to enable the time to be put to meaningful use by the teacher. It also need to be provided regularly within the school timetable on a weekly or fortnightly basis and shown on that timetable. PPA time must also take place during the school timetabled teaching time (ie during the time in which pupils are taught the school or national curriculum and attendance is compulsory) and must not be bolted on before or after pupil sessions or when the pupils are engaged in voluntary extra-curricular activities. Accordingly, PPA time cannot be provided by closing the school to pupils. However, pupils do not have to be physically present in school during PPA time (eg they may be on educational visits etc.

The relationship with other entitlements particularly cover for absent colleagues

The entitlement to PPA time is separate and in addition to leadership and management time. However, leadership and management time can be provided at any time during the 1,265 contracted (directed) time and therefore unlike PPA time, it can be taken at times which are outside of the teaching timetable.

Teachers cannot be required to undertake cover during their PPA time. Nor can a teacher on PPA time be called upon to leave what they are doing to go and supervise or manage a problem in the classroom. The school's normal procedure for managing behaviour and incidents should be followed.

The impact of absence

If a teacher is absent on the day of their PPA time, they lose their entitlement. PPA time is not re-calculated in light of absence.  However, from a practical, rather than purely statutory point of view; if a teacher is absent from work and misses PPA time and this is likely to cause them a problem/workload issue, it would be sensible for the Headteacher to discuss the matter with the teacher and assess what action is appropriate.

Teacher’s right to determine PPA priorities

PPA time is for teachers to organise and plan their teaching work. It is for the teacher to determine the particular PPA priorities for each block of guaranteed PPA time, although this does not preclude them for choosing to use some of that time to support collaborative activities. The Headteacher, therefore, cannot mandate what is done during PPA time, but should be interested in the outcomes and impact on standards. However, PPA is part of the 1,265 hours and headteachers direct this time. Consequently it is up to the Headteacher where PPA takes place. Headteachers may allow teachers to undertake PPA outside of school if they believe this will be helpful to the teacher and practicable for the school.


Strategies to achieve and sustain PPA time

There is no one “right” way to achieve and sustain the required 10% PPA time and much will depend upon the individual context of each school. In updating strategies for your school be creative and look for new/different approaches. Ensure the strategy you follow is compatible with securing a reasonable work-life balance for all staff and is sustainable for the forseeable future.

If you need to adjust or update our strategy, encourage everyone to be prepared to “give things a go” if only on a trial basis initially. Recognise the emotional issues for some teachers in allowing new individuals to work with their class and find ways to support staff through this change. These solutions implemented by other schools may give you some ideas for how to update your PPA strategy:

Curriculum enrichment:

  • Employ specialist providers for aspects of PE, music, drama, pottery, etc. This has proved to be a very successful and cost-effective means of releasing teachers, appreciated particularly by parents and pupils.
  • Use a volunteer governor or local community “link” person to investigate additional potential sources of curriculum enrichment in your community.
  • Investigate the potential for utilising parent volunteers with skills to share or as helping hands to support other activities.  This requires a small investment in regularly asking new parents about particular skills or experiences that they can offer and can provide pupils with a varied menu of enrichment activities
  • Consider activities that will support other aspects of the curriculum e.g. history, geography, languages etc.
  • Join with other local schools to employ specialist providers direct e.g. music teacher, PE provision, ICT technician, etc.
  • Contract specialist input from a local secondary school.

Using support staff:

  • Enabling Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) trained in behaviour management, key stage strategy, etc to supervise the class during a practical session/lesson prepared by the teacher.
  • Audit the skills of your LSAs and use these to enable them to lead the class for activities appropriate to their skill e.g. handwriting, library/researching skills, art, language, etc.
  • Consider appointment of a Higher Level Teaching Assistant to take classes at appropriate times. Further guidance on this is available in the section on Assigned Teachers.
  • Put classes together for appropriate activities for a morning or afternoon with one teacher and two LSAs.
  • Pair older and younger year group pupils to support reading under the supervision of an LSA.
  • Look for new skills when recruiting new LSAs to support different areas of potential classroom delivery.
  • Appoint a lead LSA to manage the other staff, lead professional meetings, link with the teaching staff, etc.
  • Ensure Individual Performance Planning is extended to all support staff to enable regular feedback and guidance on professional development opportunities.
  • Enable LSAs to take circle time and/or registration.


  • Gain additional support for non-teaching staff leading a class to assist in behaviour management, etc through volunteers or regular work experience placements from a local college.
  • Set up an IT-based learning centre where pupils can undertake individual study under the supervision of an LSA3 or HLTA.
  • Some schools have found benefit in using the Headteacher to release teachers from class as this has supported monitoring/assessment, feedback, sharing of strategies on pupil issues/behaviour management, etc. However, it is essential that this option is considered within the context of enabling all staff to achieve their entitlements (including the Headteacher who is entitled to a reasonable work-life balance and dedicated headship time)
  • Consider days where pupils from nearby schools can meet up to take part in activities (e.g. DT and art workshop). This can be particularly helpful to Year 6 pupils with their transition to Key Stage 3.
  • Consider investment with other local schools in facilities for video conferencing with pupils/teachers in other schools


Supporting staff

Once you have a sustainable strategy for PPA time, support teachers to make the most of their PPA time:

  • Provide word processing support and require all lesson plans to be word processed. It only needs doing once and then plans can be adapted rather than rewritten.
  • Use curriculum planning software to make it easier to re-use planning in the future and make modifications.
  • Place lesson plans on a shared ICT network.
  • Encourage team planning during the day to reduce the number of lesson plans that each teacher needs to prepare.
  • Join up with other schools to share lesson planning to encourage new ideas and share the workload.
  • Recycle previously used plans by annotating them in colour coded pens rather than starting from scratch.
  • As a school. don’t plan in detail for one week in each four - use this time to encourage a better work-life balance.
  • Provide a dedicated information/resource area for parents to explain the issues surrounding PPA time.
  • How much marking needs to be done? Are there more effective/creative strategies for marking such as pupils marking each others work, sample marking, using agreed symbols rather than detailed comments, etc.


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