NQT Guide to NUT Workload Policy

The NUT will support members who collectively wish to challenge unnecessary workload in their schools. Talk to your rep if you think that there are issues which should be taken up collectively with the head teacher.

Administrative and clerical tasks

Teachers should have appropriate support so that they can focus on teaching and learning. They should expect administrative and clerical tasks to be carried out by support staff. In some cases, teachers will need to exercise their judgement in deciding whether a particular task requires their professional skills. For example, it is up to the individual teacher to decide whether putting up and maintaining displays is a task which requires their professional skills or whether it is an administrative task that should be transferred to support staff.


  • planning is the professional responsibility of all individual teachers, who plan by taking into account the particular needs of their class or groups
  • plans should be ‘fit for purpose’. They should be useful to individual teachers and reflect what they need to support their teaching of particular classes. Teachers should not be directed to ‘hand-in’ plans
  • plans should be kept to a minimum length. They can be set out in the form of bullet points or notes, including how learning objectives will be achieved. This is entirely a matter of professional judgement
  • plans should be updated only when necessary and not more than once a year
  • plans are working documents and it is the content rather than the presentation which is important. Separate weekly and daily lesson plans are not necessary. Annotations or Pot-it notes can be used to convert medium-term plans into lesson plans
  • with the exception of some children with specific needs, lesson plans for individual pupils are not necessary. Differentiation or personalised learning approaches for individuals or groups of pupils do not require individualised planning. This can be highlighted on teachers’ main planning documents
  • planning should be perceived by teachers to be useful to them in their teaching. There should be no requirement for teachers to prepare them in retrospect


  • marking is a professional activity which should be undertaken by teachers in accordance with their knowledge and expertise. Marking should be consistent and supportive of learning. It can be undertaken by the teacher alone and with the involvement of pupils. Regular marking informs teacher planning and assessment
  • teachers should be able to exercise their professional autonomy as to the frequency and type of marking that is appropriate. Teachers should not come under pressure to mark in too detailed a way. They should use their own professional judgement
  • excessive requirements such as ‘deep’, ‘double’ or ‘triple’ marking, in which the teacher writes detailed feedback, the pupil responds and then the teacher comments again, are unnecessary and can undermine teachers’ professional autonomy as well as causing additional workload. ‘Book looks’, in which the marking inside a book is checked, should be kept to a minimum
  • following NUT pressure, the Government now recommends “sparing use of more detailed marking and written feedback”. Ofsted has made clear that schools should determine their own marking practices and that in particular it does not expect to see a written record of oral feedback.


NUT policy is that meetings should last no more than 60 minutes and be held on no more than an average of one evening per week during a term, with a maximum of two evenings in any week.

Teachers cannot be required to take verbatim notes or produce formal minutes of meetings.

Parents’ evenings

Parents’ evenings are not subject to the 60 minutes maximum. However, during the week of parents’ evenings, there should be no more than one further evening call on teachers.

Reports on pupils

You should not be expected to write more than one report on each pupil per academic year.

Classroom observations

Excessive classroom observation is a serious problem in many schools. The various purposes for which observations may be required have meant that in some schools the total number of observations has climbed. The context in which they are carried out can be felt to be hostile rather than supportive.

NUT policy is that a teacher should be subject to no more than three classroom observations per year, for all purposes The total time occupied by such observations should not exceed three hours per year.

Newly qualified teachers are not subject to appraisal. You should be aware, however, that there are other purposes for which classroom observation may be used. It is good practice for observations to be carried out to achieve a range of objectives at the same time.

Drop-ins and learning walks should not be used for the purposes of appraisal. They should be for other clearly defined purposes and consulted upon in advance with teachers.

Class sizes

Oversized classes add significantly to the workload of teachers. Support is available from the NUT for negotiations to reduce class sizes. Where such negotiations are not successful, industrial action will be considered if the class sizes exceed the limits set out below:

  • 26 pupils in the case of early years foundation stage classes with one teacher and a support staff member with minimum NVQ level 3 qualifications
  • 27 pupils in the case of key stage 1 classes
  • 24 pupils in the case of mixed age classes
  • 20 pupils in the case of practical classes
  • 15 pupils in the case of classes of pupils needing particular small group or individual attention
  • 30 in other classes.

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