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Q. You have stated more than once that part-time teachers should work the appropriate proportion of 1,265 hours. Where is it stated that this a contractual requirement?

A. The most obvious place is in the individual teacher's contract of service, where it should state quite clearly what proportion of full-time is required. You may then refer to section 25.1 of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document, which has statutory force, where it says that: "Teachers in regular part-time serviceIshall be paid a proportion of the remuneration that would be appropriate if they were employed full-time as school teachers."

As part-time teachers are required to fulfil the same duties as their full-time colleagues, it follows that they should perform that proportion of those duties for which they are paid. An employer who settles for less is wasting the school's money and doing a disservice to full-time staff.

Another correspondent, writing on the same theme, has asked whether it is fair that the working hours of a half-time teacher should allow only five minutes each day for preparation.

One has to remember that preparation and marking are included in that category of a teacher's duties which may fall outside 1,265 hours and, as the document says, "shall depend upon the work needed to discharge the teacher's duties".

However, the part-time teacher should be entitled to conditions similar to full-time colleagues. Thus, if full-timers have a certain percentage of non-contact time, the part-timer should have the appropriate proportion of that. The bottom line in all these cases is the requirement that all teachers work "under the reasonable direction" of the head. Those who feel that they are being treated unreasonably can use grievance procedures.

Q. We are seeking to reorganise our school day. Are there any limitations on the length of each session?

A. No. The Education Reform Act 1988 lays down procedures which must be followed, but you may not need to bother with that if the changes you are proposing leave the beginning and end of the day unchanged.

The regulations do require that the day should be divided into two sessions, but say nothing about their respective lengths. You have to remember, however, that the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document provides for teachers to have a break of reasonable length at the middle of the day. Evidence from around the country suggests that this is capable of quite diverse interpretations.

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