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Working week

Your job and career questions answered

Am I being overloaded?

Over the past year, I have felt that my role as a teaching assistant was increasing. This year I have taken on three responsibilities previously undertaken by teachers. I teach literacy groups for most of the week and have now been asked to deliver numeracy unit plans to other groups as well.

I have written to the head complaining about the changes in my workload but have not received a reply. What should I do?

The introduction of the new workload agreement for teachers has precipitated the biggest changes in decades to working patterns in schools.

I am not sure what you are concerned about. Is it a lack of training for the numeracy work, or is it something deeper? Have your hours been increased without your agreement, or is it that you now have to spend time outside contact time preparing and assessing the work you have done with the groups and that is not taken into account in your working week? You do not say how large the school is. It may be that the head has delegated a response to the person with overall charge of teaching assistants. However, if after further inquiry you believe that the head is at fault in not replying, you could write to the chair of governors asking for a meeting to discuss your problem.

In sickness...

Does the sick pay year still run from April to April? If so, does that mean that someone in their third year of teaching could be on full pay all autumn term, half pay all spring term and on full pay for summer term? I am off ill and do not know when I will be better. I need to plan for next year. In addition, can I apply for statutory sick pay once I am on half pay?

The so-called sick leave year runs from the April 1 to March 31 the following year, ine line with the financial year. However, your length of service as a teacher determines your entitlement to sick pay. There are nationally agreed minimum entitlements, but some authorities may be more generous. If you are absent due to illness on March 31, you will not be entitled to the subsequent year's allowance until you have recovered and are back at work. Instead, sick leave will continue to count against the previous year's entitlement.

Moving up the ladder

I am responsible for literacy at key stage 1 in a large primary school.

However, I would like more responsibilities. Should I start applying for assistant headteacher posts or move straight on to deputy headships?

This is difficult to answer. From your tone, you are looking to find a foothold on the leadership ladder with the chance of becoming a head. As primary schools range in size, your first decision is what type of school you want to work in. Your present post is in a large primary and it may be that is where you feel most comfortable. Some of these schools are now advertising assistant headships, but they are rare, except in London and the South East. Most small schools can't afford to have an assistant head and a deputy as well as the head. So, if you want to work in a small school, you will have to apply for a deputy headship anyway. Overall, there seems little to be gained from applying for an assistant headship in your case.

If you have a question for John Howson, please email

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