Taking advantage

Q: We have to be in school for an 8.35am briefing. In theory (and often in practice), a member of staff can be teaching lessons one and two, have a 15-minute break duty, teach period three, then have a 10-minute first lunch duty, taking them up to 12.20pm. This makes 3hrs 45mins without a toilet or drink break. Is this legal?

A: For a start, lunch duty is an optional activity. Even so, that only reduces the time to around three and a half hours. So long as it isn't every day, and everyone is treated the same, you may not be able to complain. However, if you have a medical reason to need a toilet break you should discuss the issue with the staff member responsible for drawing up the duty rota. As a newly qualified teacher with a 10 per cent non-contact time plus 10 per cent planning, preparation and assessment allowance, I am surprised that you would face this situation more than occasionally. Have you told your mentor, especially if your timetable has all your non-contact time in the afternoons?

* We're happy to answer your problems about any aspect of your NQT year. Unfortunately, our experts cannot enter into personal correspondence with readers but will treat all your enquiries in the strictest confidence.

Please email any questions you have to: nqtextra@tes.co.uk

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