From 1 September all teachers with timetabled teaching commitments became entitled to PPA time (eg 2.5 hours, or half a day a week for many primary teachers).

For SENCOs it is important to note that any non-contact time that they receive to carry out coordination, management or leadership duties should be separate from time allocated for PPA and should not be converted into PPA.

Given that we already know that many SENCOs, particularly those working in primary schools, struggle to have access to adequate non-contact time to carry out their essential duties, it is important to be alert to the possibility that in some schools this time could be further eroded if PPA agreements are not properly adhered to by governing bodies and headteachers. Clear guidance on this matter is outlined in a pamphlet produced for its members by the National Union of Teachers.1 It states that: ‘Teachers with leadership and management responsibilities should be awarded additional time for planning, preparation and assessment, equivalent to 10% of their timetabled teaching time remaining after deduction of leadership and management time. Teachers with leadership and management responsibilities are, therefore, entitled to (a) non-contact time during which to undertake these responsibilities and (b) PPA equivalent to 10% of the time they are timetabled to teach, excluding leadership and management time.’

To illustrate what this might mean for a SENCO, the following example is also presented in the pamphlet: ‘A SENCO currently has one afternoon a week to undertake specific SENCO duties. This leaves 20 hours’ timetabled teaching; the SENCO is, therefore, entitled to two hours for planning, preparation and assessment purposes. The SENCO’s total hours spent on teaching per week would then be reduced to 18 hours.’

Monitoring practice as the new school year begins is important because anecdotal evidence has suggested that during the summer term, as initial PPA plans were put in place in schools some SENCOs were discovering that their crucial non-contact time was being encroached upon because they were being told to provide cover for other teachers so that they could receive their PPA entitlement.

Note: Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time, Leadership and Management Time can be accessed online at: www.nut.org.uk. The information quoted here is from p.3, para 5.

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