INTO Guide to Working Time & Professional Duties

As a result of negotiations during 1987 agreement was reached between the recognised teachers’ unions and the employing authorities setting out the Working Time, Professional Duties and Responsibilities of all teachers.

Working Time (otherwise known as ‘directed time’)

Relevant bodies or their representative, who may be the principal or a senior member of staff of the school, shall discuss with each teacher at the beginning of each academic year or as often as is required, the range of teaching and other duties/activities which that teacher will undertake to assist the school and the teacher in the achievement of their objectives and so far as can then be determined the times and places thereof.

Save that:

  1. A teacher shall be available for work 195 days a year of which not more than 190 days should involve teaching children in a formal situation. It is expected that working days which do not involve teaching children in a formal situation will be reasonably contiguous with
    days that do involve teaching children.
  2. A teacher, other than a teacher employed in a residential establishment, shall be available to perform such duties at such times and such places as may reasonably be specified by the principal for 1,265 hours per year exclusive of time spent off school premises in preparing and marking lessons and time spent travelling to and from the place of work;
  3. A teacher may not be required to teach as distinct from supervise children in a formal situation for more than 25 hours per week in a primary school and 23.5 hours per week in a secondary school;
  4. Flexibility is clearly important, but employers will want to ensure that principals plan the use of the 1,265 hours carefully.

Professional Duties

A teacher shall be required to carry out a range of professional duties as may reasonably be determined by the relevant body or its representative to be appropriate in his/her case and a teacher shall obey the reasonable directions of an employing authority or its

The following duties shall be deemed to be included in the professional duties which a school teacher may be required to perform although it is not expected that every teacher would be required to undertake the full range of such duties.

    1. Planning and preparing courses and lessons.
    2. Teaching, according to their educational needs, - the pupils assigned to her/him, including the setting and marking of work to
      be carried out the pupil in school and elsewhere.
    3. Assessing, recording and reporting on the development, progress and attainment of pupils.
    1. Promoting the general progress and well-being of individual pupils and of any class or group of pupils assigned to her/him.
    2. Providing guidance and advice to pupils on education and social matters and on their further education and future careers including information about sources of more expert advice on specific questions; making relevant records and reports.
    3. Making records of and reports on the personal and social needs of pupils except in instances where to do so might be regarded as
      compromising a teacher’s own position.
    4. Communicating and consulting with the parents of pupils.
    5. Communicating and co-operating with persons of bodies outside school (as may be approved by the school authorities).
    6. Participating in meetings arranged for any of the purposes described above.
  1. Providing or contributing to oral and written assessments, reports and references relating to individual pupils, and groups of pupils subject to the provisions (ii)(c) above.
    1. Reviewing from time to time her/his methods of teaching and programmes of work.
    2. Participating in arrangements for her/his further training and professional development as a teacher.
  2. Advising and cooperating with the principal and other teachers (or any one or more of them) on the preparation and development of
    courses of study, teaching materials, teaching programmes, methods of teaching and assessment and pastoral arrangements.
  3. Maintaining good order and discipline among pupils in accordance with the policies of employing authorities and safeguarding their
    health and safety both when they are authorised to be on the school premises and when they are engaged in authorised school activities elsewhere.
  4. Participating in meetings at the school which relate to the curriculum for the school or the administration or organisation of
    the school, including pastoral arrangements.
  5. Participating in arrangements for preparing pupils for public examinations and in assessing pupils for the purposes of such examinations; recording and reporting such assessments; and participating in arrangements for pupils’ presentation for and supervision during such examinations. The employers acknowledge that the above is without prejudice to the teachers’ right to seek payment for those elements of public examinations which involve assessment.
  6. Contributing to the selection for appointment and professional development of other teachers including the assessment of probationary teachers.
    1. Co-ordinating or managing the work of other teachers.
    2. Taking such part as may be required of her/him in the review, development and management of activities relating to the curriculum, organisation and pastoral functions of the school.
    1. Participating in administrative and organisational tasks related to such duties are as described above, including the management or
      supervision of persons providing support for the teachers in the school and the ordering and allocation of equipment and
    2. Attending assemblies subject to the provisions in Article 22 of the Education and Libraries Order (NI) 1986 registering the attendance of pupils and supervising pupils whether these duties are to be performed before, during or after school.

Substitute Cover

A teacher may be required by a relevant body or their representative to supervise and teach pupils whose teacher is absent provided that:

(a) In schools with an average daily enrolment of 222 pupils or less, in primary 1 and primary 2 classes in schools with an average daily enrolment greater than 222 pupils, and in nursery classes in primary schools a teacher shall not be required to provide such cover.

(b) In schools with an average daily enrolment greater than 222 pupils a teacher shall not be required to provide such cover after the second day on which a teacher, other than a teacher of a primary 1 or primary 2 class or of a nursery class in a primary school, is absent or otherwise not available, or from the first day if the fact that the teacher would be absent or otherwise not available for a period exceeding 2 days was known to and agreed by the relevant body in advance.

Local Management of Schools

The introduction of Local Management of Schools and financial delegation to schools commenced in 1991. Most schools now have fully delegated budgets. The Boards of Governors for these schools are the relevant body and, among other powers, have the right to determine the teaching complement of the school(s), including the employment of substitute teachers. Also, each Education and Library Board operates an LMS scheme for school within its area. These schemes provide for the cost of each period substitute cover to be met by the school(s) for a period of time (usually first 10 or 20 days of absence) in certain circumstances, absences due to illness, maternity etc. Thereafter to cost of substitute cover transfers to the Education and Library Board.
In many instances’ schools have refused to employ substitute teachers until the cost transfers to the Education and Library Board. INTO opposes this practice and insists that substitute cover is employed as required under the terms of the above agreement. In addition, there are circumstances when the cost of substitute cover is met directly by the Education and Library Board, e.g. certain INSET programmes, release for transfer reports, official business on behalf of recognised teachers’ unions.

Lunch Time

Unless employed under a separate contract as a midday supervisor, a teacher shall not be required to undertake midday supervision. All teachers shall be required to have a break of at least 30 minutes between the hours of 12 noon and 2.00 pm. (12 noon to 2.30 pm in
Nursery Classes/Schools).

Staff Development/Performance Review

Employers and teachers’ unions have agreed a scheme of staff development and performance review. Teachers are required to participate in the scheme. The scheme may not be used either directly or indirectly, in any matters relating to the salary or disciplining of teachers.
Some schools have attempted to introduce staff development and performance review schemes in advance of agreement being reached on the central scheme. No teacher be required to participate in such schemes regardless of their title - be it appraisal, teacher assessment, review scheme etc. INTO members should immediately report any such development in their school to Northern Office.

Principals: Professional Duties

  • A principal shall be required to carry out a range of professional duties in accordance with the school’s policy and objectives as determined by the relevant body and shall obey the reasonable directions of the relevant body.
  • Subject to the above, the Principal shall be responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school.
  • In carrying out his/her duties he shall consult, where this is appropriate, with the relevant body and the staff of the school.

The professional duties of a Principal shall include:

  1. Formulating the overall aims and objectives of the school and policies for their implementation.
  2. Participating in the selection and appointment of the staff of the school.
    1. Deploying and managing all teaching and non-teaching staff of the school and allocating particular duties to them (including such duties of the Principal as may properly be delegated to the Vice-Principal or other members of staff), in a manner consistent with their conditions of employment, maintaining a reasonable balance for each employee.
    2. Ensuring that the duty of providing cover for absent teachers is shared equitably among all teachers in the school, taking account of their teaching and other duties.
  3. Maintaining relationships, as appropriate, with organisations representing teachers and other persons on the staff of the school.
  4. Determining organising, organising and implementing an appropriate curriculum for the school, having regard to the needs, experience, interests, aptitudes and stage of development of the pupils and the resources available to the school.
  5. Keeping under review the work and organisation of the school.
  6. Evaluating the standards of teaching and learning in the school and ensuring that proper standards of professional performance are established and maintained.
    1. Providing information about the work and performance of the staff employed at the school where this is relevant to their future employment.
    2. Participating in any arrangements agreed for staff development/ Performance Review.
  7. Ensuring that all staff in the school have access to advice and training appropriate to their needs, in accordance with the policies of the employing authority for the development of staff.
  8. Ensuring that the progress of the pupils of the school is monitored and recorded.
  9. Determining and ensuring the implementation of a policy for the pastoral care of pupils.
  10. Determining, in accordance with any written statement of general principles for him by the Board of Governors, measures are to be taken with a view of promoting, among the pupils, self-discipline and proper regard for authority, encouraging good behaviour on the part of the pupils, securing that the standard of behaviour of the pupils is acceptable, and otherwise regulating the conduct of the pupils; making such measures generally known within the school, and ensuring that they are implemented.
  11. In accordance with the policy of the relevant body having responsibility for good order and discipline on the school premises whenever pupils are present, including the midday break.
  12. Making arrangements for parents to be given regular information about the school curriculum, the progress of their children and other matters affecting the school, so as to promote common understanding of its aims.
  13. Promoting effective relationships with persons and bodies outside the school as may be approved by the school authorities.
  14. Advising and assisting the Board of Governors in the exercise of its functions, including attending meetings of the Board of Governors and making such reports to it with connection with the discharge of her/his functions as it may properly require either on a regular basis or from time to time.
  15. Providing for liaison and co-operation with the relevant body; making such reports to authority in connection with the discharge of her/his functions as it may require on a regular basis or from time to time.
  16. Maintaining liaison with other schools and further education establishments with which the school has a relationship.
  17. Allocating, controlling and accounting for those financial and material resources of the school which are under the control of the Principal.
  18. Making arrangements in cooperation with the relevant body, for the security and effective supervision of the school buildings and their contents and of the school grounds and ensuring (if so required) that any lack of maintenance is promptly reported to the
    employing authority or, if appropriate, the Board of Governors.
  19. Participating in the identification of areas in which he would benefit from further training and undergoing such training.
  20. Arranging for a Vice-Principal or, if (s)he is not available, other suitable person to assume responsibility for the discharge of her/his functions as Principal at any time when (s)he is absent from the school.
  21. Participating to such extent as may be appropriate having regard to her/his other duties in the teaching of the pupils at the school, including provision of cover for absent teachers.

The Principal is also obliged to:

  • Consider how far the duties of the Principal may be delegated to any Vice-Principal;
  • Ensure that teachers at the school receive information that they need to carry out their professional duties effectively; and
  • Ensure that newly qualified teachers, those returning after a break in service have access to adequate support in their first years of service or resumed service.

(The Scheme of Management for each school sets out additional clarification on the role and function of the Principal).

Lunch Time

Without prejudice to his duties under paragraph (13) and (22) above, a Principal shall be allowed a break of at least 30 minutes between the hours of 12 noon and 2.00 PM (12 noon and 2.30 pm in nursery schools).

Vice-Principals: Professional Duties

A person appointed Vice-Principal in a school, in addition to carrying out the professional duties of a school teacher, including those duties particularly assigned to her/him by the Principal in Paragraph 12 of the Principal’s Professional Duties shall –

  1. Assist the Principal in managing the school or such part of it as may be determined by the Principal;
  2. Undertake any professional duty of the Principal, which may be delegated to him by the Principal;
  3. Undertake, in the absence of the Principal to the extent required by her/him or his employers, the professional duties of the Principal.
    The provisions of paragraphs 12 to 16 of the Principal’s Professional Duties inclusive above shall apply to Vice-Principals. The Vice-Principal shall play a major role under the overall directions of the Principal in:-
    1. Formulating the aims and objectives of the school;
    2. Establishing the policies through which they shall be achieved;
    3. Managing staff and resources to that end;
    4. Monitoring progress towards their achievement;
    5. Undertaking any professional duties of the Principal delegated to her/him by the Principal;
    6. Undertaking to the extent required by the Principal or relevant body or employing authority the professional duties of the Principal in the event of her/his absence from school; and
    7. Entitlement to a break of at least 30 minutes between the hours of 12 noon and 2.00 pm.

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