Creative PPA Solutions

Are you meeting – or exceeding – statutory PPA requirements but want to implement even stronger, more creative timetabling solutions to reduce stress and improve teacher productivity? Look no further – Sing Education offers PPA strategies to suit every need and we’ll work closely with you to implement the best solution for you.


PPA Increasingly Under Pressure

Planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time – non-contact time away from pupils during a teacher’s timetabled week – is a statutory entitlement for all teachers who work under the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), which most teachers in state schools do.

This prized time out of the classroom isn’t just nice to have; it is vital for hard-working teachers, giving them an opportunity to take stock and prepare. If it is interrupted, denied or cancelled, that can mean the difference between a moderately stressful week and one that feels almost impossible.

But if you take a glance at the threads about PPA on any teachers’ online forum, you will see posts about PPA being squeezed or implemented in such a way that it loses its purpose.

What can be done to stop this from happening?

Leaders need to recognise the true value of PPA time and the responsibility that they have to protect it. It seems plain to me that the happiest teachers – who feel more on top of their workload and less stressed than their peers – are employed under headteachers who respect and understand their need for time.

— Times Educational Supplement, 17 March 2019

PPA Purpose and Provision

The vast majority of publicly funded schools in England and all schools in Wales operate according to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) which states that a classroom teacher can only be directed by the headteacher to work for up to a maximum of 1,265 hours over 195 days of the year. A maximum of 190 days involve teaching pupils/students, the remainder being non-teaching days where classroom teachers may be asked to undertake other duties related to their role as a teacher. These are often known as in-service training days (INSET). These limits do not apply if they are paid on the leadership range.

Teachers are to be provided with a directed time budget at the beginning of each academic year based around the school day, which identifies the number of hours they are being directed to undertake the professional duties of a teacher, including their timetabled teaching as well as any meetings and duties such as parental consultations, planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time, leadership and management time (as appropriate) and meetings.

Teachers are entitled to a minimum of 10% of timetabled teaching time for PPA as part of their hours of directed time. This should be clearly identified on their timetable in blocks that are not less than half an hour. In most cases, classroom teachers are allocated a minimum of 10% of timetabled teaching time for PPA. Under the STPCD, they cannot be asked to carry out duties other than those involved in planning, preparation and assessment during PPA time.

— A Guide to Directed Time in England and Wales, NASUWT

Solutions for PPA Cover

Sing Education offers several innovative solutions to solve your PPA cover needs. We work closely with headteachers to ensure they can meet their PPA requirements in the best way possible given their school’s current timetable, teaching staff numbers and curriculum objectives.

Singing assemblies and/or music lessons can be used as PPA Cover. Schools often use singing assembly time as PPA Cover for a whole year group, for instance. 

In this case, a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) or another member of the academic team supports the assembly as needed, while the other teachers can have PPA time together, planning as a year group, for instance, or as a Key Stage group. Because singing assemblies require very little advance preparation, there is added benefit to this type of cover – limited prep means more cover period time gets applied to PPA responsibilities.

Music lessons are another way we can support your PPA needs. Lessons can be scheduled on rotation with another specialist provision, such as PE. In this way, sometimes children will go from music to PE to art, for example, keeping all the PPA time together for the teacher. Again, this minimises teacher movement and maximises actually planning time. Over a 120 coverage minute period, this could save as much as 30 minutes!

At Sing Education, we’ve helped schools to timetable this and to plan out how curricular music can support PPA cover, making the timetable work more efficiently for them. Because we’ve seen how it’s worked across a variety of schools, we can offer our extensive expertise.

Circle of KS2 primary pupils, male teacher in middle of circle, teacher and pupils waving hands and singing.

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