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Asked for Schemes of Work/Planning during Summer Hols.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Sbi5ni, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. Sbi5ni

    Sbi5ni New commenter

    Hi All,

    I've emailed my union about this but also wanted some other opinions. I'm a teacher in a special school and we have class of arouns 8-12 pupils. We've been in lockdown since March and working from home up til Easter. After that we were asked to work part time for vulnerable and key worker children, and work from home the rest of the time. Despite all that time working from home I was emailed asking to prepare a SOW for Computing on the 24th July, a week after school ended for the summer, this had to be ready for September and nothing was mentioned about it to me during term time. On the 11th August I was also asked to prepare planning for an hour a week of R.E./Citizenship that could be used by all classes. Again for September. I'm not normally phased by having to plan a little over the summer but it doesn't seem fair that despite the assistant headteacher having had since the easter break to plan for next year/delegate tasks that they decided to set these tasks in the middle of the summer hols and asking for them to be done by September. Am I within my rights to say I can only do these once we're back at work and ask for a reasonable amount of time to then be given to complete? This assistant head also has had issues with many staff members in terms of texting/WhatsApp messaging during evenings and weekends also and the teaching assistants are also being asked to do tasks via several emails during the summer.

  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Very similar question posted here earlier today


    Are you in a state school on a standard 1265 hours/195 days Directed Time contract [STPCD or equivalent]?

    When you say you were put on part time after Easter do you mean your working hours were contractually reduced so that you were no longer a full time employee? Or that you continued as a full time employee but were timetabled so that you only spent part of your time working in school and the rest working from home?
    Sbi5ni likes this.
  3. Sbi5ni

    Sbi5ni New commenter

    We all continued as full time employees with no changes to our contract. We work for a school which is part of a larger trust. We're not a state school.

    Thanks :)
  4. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    Remember that planning schemes of work, etc. is the job of every teacher not just TLR holders - so you cannot refuse to do it unless it's (reasonably) outside of your skillset. You can request alternate dates, etc.

    Generally I would see this as part of being a good sport - knocking up a scheme of work for a unit doesn't take long if you're experienced, a day at most. Although you would be within your rights to refuse and I, personally, would accept it with my response being "fair enough when can you have it done by?", if that's the response give a sensible date.

    There are some exceptions where that excuse may not fly, such as if you're a TLR holder with responsibility for that subject area, if you're an experienced teacher who has taught that unit and it's a unit you've already taught - there should already be a mapped out long and medium term SoW/SoL and only revision/refinement is required.

    Situations like these can snowball from an opportunity to earn goodwill into something very distinctly horrible - I may try to phone the person concerned rather than send an e-mail. e-mails often come across as rude and confrontational.
    Jonntyboy and Sbi5ni like this.
  5. Sbi5ni

    Sbi5ni New commenter

    We all continued as full time employees with no changes to our contract. We work for a school which is part of a larger trust. We're not a state school.

    Thanks for replying. Does this apply still even if the request has been made midway thru the summer holidays rather than during term time?

  6. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    If you're a TLR holder you have no reasonable grounds to refuse that I can think of off the top of my head.

    If it's a completely new scheme of work that no-one has ever taught before then you can, fairly in my view, ask for a due date in September.

    If you're a subject teacher and you have already taught the course refusal would put you into dodgy territory. My next question would be what were you using to map last year's teaching? If no scheme of work existed you should have written an overview and fleshed it out as you go as per your job spec. The request coming in the summer is of little help here, as it should have already been largely complete your line manager's simple response would be "you were supposed to see the e-mail on the 1st of September and respond with last year's scheme of work". Arguing that no schemes of work exists as you didn't plan last year's work properly is not going to help your cause. I would run a mile from this situation and just get it done.
  7. Sbi5ni

    Sbi5ni New commenter

    Thanks averagedan. I'm just a class teacher as we teach our classes most subjects like primary would. I'm not a subject teacher or a TLR holder. It'd be a completely new scheme of work as we used to take our classes to the local college for their computing lessons (because there's no specialists in the school) to be taught by a specialist computing teacher. We knew that the visits were going to be stopped from September due to covid but no info about whether we'd plan our own lessons or what would be happening. So there was no SOW last year just the objectives we used to assess against which were provided by the specialist teacher at the college.

    Does this change things at all or should I just suck it up and try and plan something over the next few weeks? I just don't want to set a precedent for this type of communication and demand.
    averagedan likes this.
  8. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    If no scheme of work exists and you have no training in the area I would have a phone call with someone and point this out and see if there's some horse trading to be done where you get something in return. I wouldn't do it via e-mail as they can come across as aggressive/rude without meaning to.

    They can't direct you to work in your holidays per se... but it's not a black and white area - you can refuse but the school could respond with planning is the responsibility of all teachers. so they would probably just give you a revised deadline in September if they were determined to make you do it.

    This is an opportunity to get a favour or two in the bank, have a friendly phone call, agree to do it, earn some kudos and see if you can get something for it would be my route.

    If you do refuse seek union advice first and give them every detail you can. This is definitely not a black and white area when it comes to long-term planning.
  9. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    You could be away. You do have to do the planning but it is not reasonable to ask during the holidays. I would offer to do it in the first two weeks of September. Don' t say anything wait until she asks and then say it will be ready then.
  10. Pretty_Vacant

    Pretty_Vacant New commenter

    Sorry but I would disagree. Do everything via email as then you have a paper trail to follow if ever you need it, especially as it will require substantial research and planning for a non-specialist.
  11. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    What if you don't check emails during the holidays (wink wink)?
  12. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    No don't engage. You don't need to respond at all during the holiday. You will deal with it in September.
  13. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    I wouldn't do that without the school's agreement and chatting with my union.

    You are expected to undertake planning for the year ahead. Starting to teach a course without having thought above how the whole year fits together would leave you on dodgy ground professionally. Remember most teaching contracts cover an expectation of work being done outside of contact time in order to meet the needs of your job role.
  14. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    I can see your point and agree with it to an extent, there are pros and cons to both.

    Putting things in writing means that things WILL be done by the book, there's not much room for manoeuvre left once this happens and if the e-mail comes across as hostile that can have repercussions. You can accomplish the same thing by keeping notes of the conversation, these can then be passed on to your union if you wish to press the "trigger" button and gives your line manager wriggle room in the initial conversation.

    I also wouldn't pretend not to have checked my e-mails. This, depending on your school's IT setup, can almost certainly be checked. You're then going to have knowingly lied. I would run a mile from this - stick to the truth, lies are too much work to remember!
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    No I disagree. The SLT member should have asked for this before the break not during the break. The SLT person is disorganised and has forgotten to do this. In that case if the material is really needed for the first day back they should do it themselves. If it is not needed on the first day then the SLT person can put in the request in September. I am guessing it is not needed on the first day.
  16. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    You are on holiday. The school has no right to make you work during the holidays.
  17. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    You always get more from trying to work with people than against them.

    Teaching is stressful, we're all disorganised at points in the year, and the only way a school can work is if people work together.

    Deliberately ignoring your line manager is never good advice. People remember things like this. There will be situations when you need that person to take a positive view of you and your work.

    The STPCD only sets limits on contact time, we have no designated holiday periods. You are required to work outside of contact time in order to meet the needs of your role this includes working in the holiday if necessary. An extract from the STPCD:

    "a teacher must work such reasonable additional hours as may be necessary to enable the effective discharge of their professional duties, including in particular, planning and preparing courses and lessons; and assessing, monitoring, recording and reporting on the learning needs, progress and achievements of assigned pupils."

    The only holiday entitlement (I may be slightly out here... I can't find the number and this is from memory) is that you receive 5.6 weeks of holiday, we are not paid pro-rata. The (professional) onus is on the teacher to spread those 5.6 weeks over the 13 weeks of holiday in the year in such a way that allows them to complete their duties effectively. Leaving your only real argument as not being competent enough to spread your workload out, not a position of strength to argue from.

    As I said above, in far less detail, this is not a black and white area, you can be expected to work in the holiday. Things like this can snowball.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  18. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Snowball as in SLT becoming more slapdash the more you give in. Sadly this is something I have noticed as so many more young and inexperienced teachers are promoted after only a couple of years. If I know I have to do a task every year...maybe update something or an annual report and my line manager emails me in the holiday to say it is due the first day back that is fine. I knew that. If something beyond their control happens... OFSTED or their ilk suddenly appear then yes I am happy to muck in but teachers' time is precious. A teacher could be attending a wedding away from home, spending precious time with elderly, sick relatives a long way away, spending time with step children or children living with an estranged partner, moving house...we organise these things in our holidays and this should be respected.
  19. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    You can’t be directed to work during the holiday time - you can only be directed to work on any of the 195 days your school specify. Being given a task during the holiday, when it is entirely possible that you may not be able to complete the task, is unreasonable and you are within your rights to ignore the email entirely (my school asked all colleagues to not send out any emails during the holiday unless they were absolutely necessary). If you had been asked to do this before the start of the holidays then it would be more reasonable but again, you can not be asked to complete work outside of the 195 days

    In September, it would be entirely reasonable for you to be asked to complete this work but you need an appointment amount of time to do this task.
  20. Penguinitis

    Penguinitis Occasional commenter

    The holiday is your time. I’m far too busy doing other personal jobs to do any school work. I’d hate to work for someone that disorganised. Luckily we prepped our work before the end of term (gvt changes notwithstanding). My school has told us to have a holiday ready for the start of term.

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