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Are Teacher’s Holidays Paid in the UK?


Are Teacher’s Holidays Paid in the UK?

Teacher pay and their number of holidays seem to be a source of debate and question around the world. 

When an individual decides to enter the teaching profession, they are often ready to hear the comments about their pay and the vacations they receive annually. 

True, there are some perks to being a teacher, including time away from school when students are not present, but there are many things that are not understood by the general population. 

Are teacher’s holidays paid in the UK? Teachers in the UK do receive paid holidays if they are employed by local authorities, a school, or another local agency. They will typically receive 5.6 weeks of paid holiday time. If you are not a full-time teacher or are considered a supply teacher, also known as a substitute teacher, you may not qualify for paid vacation time. 

In this article, you will learn about how teachers in the UK are given holidays and how they are paid for them. 

Do Teachers Get Paid Holidays?

In a sense, teachers do get paid holidays, but it is not like a normal profession.  Typically, teachers are only paid for their contract period of ten months. However, they can spread the payment out over twelve months. 

Because the payment is spread out over twelve months, it seems that teachers are getting paid for vacation time, when in fact they are receiving their normal salary, not additional payment for vacation. In fact, it is not referred to as holiday pay.  It is referred to as directed and non-directed time.

  • Directed Time: Directed time is the time that teachers are required to be at work or available to work. The headteacher at the school typically dictates this. This directed time is not exclusively related to classroom teaching, but rather to all the components that make up the profession of teaching that are not fully understood by the public. (Source: neu.org
  • Non-directed Time: This time is defined as time away from school that does not have any requirements from the headteacher.  During this time, teachers are not required to partake in any school-related activities or functions, nor can they be directed to do so.  

What Activities are Considered Directed Time?

If you are a teacher, you know the demands put on you in the classroom during the year are quite significant and fill up the entire contractual school year.  During school, many activities constitute directed time.  

Some of the time takes place during the regular school day, but there is also a portion that takes place outside the normal school day, which includes:

  • Parent conferences 
  • After school meetings
  • Break times during the day 
  • Teaching time
  • Any form of staff development that is required

This list is not an exclusive list of directed activities, but it does contain some examples of what teachers are directed to do within the school year. 

It is also important to understand the directed time required of teachers does not always integrate the hours of planning required to teach a class successfully. 

Part of the directed time can also include mandated training days that teachers are required to be in school during the student break period.

Typically, these are 1-2-day sessions over the break. Most schools provide a calendar with required dates for teachers so they can plan around them. 

How Many Hours do Teachers Work Under Directed Time?

There will be many different answers when you ask teachers how much time they spend working during an average school year.  In a survey that was completed by the Teachers’ Union, the hours worked by classroom teachers were staggering, to say the least.

The following chart gives the average time that teachers at various grade levels spend working each week:

Grade LevelHours Worked
Primary classroom teachers59.3 hours each week
Secondary classroom teachers55.7 hours each week
Secondary Academy teachers55.2 hours each week

(Source: Metro)

When looking at the breakdown of hours worked, you must understand that these hours are not just in classroom teaching; these hours include all the above-mentioned directed time activities.  Often, these activities take place outside of normal school hours. 

What Holidays do Teachers Get?

Now that you know how many hours teachers put in for their directed time, you may be wondering just what holidays teachers are entitled to.  It is important to remember that not all schools are the same when it comes to determining holidays. 

The most common holidays provided to teachers are:

  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Summer
  • Half term breaks

These breaks are remarkably like US teacher breaks; however, the school year is broken apart differently in the UK.  The school year is comprised of three different terms: Autumn (Fall) Term, Spring Term, and Summer Term.

  • Autumn Term: The Autumn term begins in September and ends in December.  This term also includes a two-week Christmas break
  • Spring Term:  The Spring term runs from early January until April and includes a two-week Easter break.
  • Summer Term: The Summer term runs from after Easter until mid-July.  A six-week summer break is included in this term.

Each of the terms also includes a one-week half-term break for students and teachers.  Although these breaks may be referred to as holidays, many teachers continue to work during this time in preparation for the upcoming term.  

Often, the time teachers spend working over breaks is non-directed, but there are also directed time days included that are required by the headteacher. (Source: Teach In)

What Teachers Might do in The Summer

This question can be quite a dangerous one to ask many teachers, because, for some, the summer is time spent planning for the upcoming school year, with limited time for relaxing or turning the school switch off.  

Many teachers enjoy their summer vacation, but they often find themselves looking toward the upcoming school year and reflecting on the year that has passed. 

For some, it is a time spent reading, vacationing, and just recharging their batteries in preparation for the upcoming year.  

For other teachers, they spend their time seeking out and participating in professional development opportunities that they may not be able to take part in during the school year. 

Sadly, some teachers are forced to take extra work in the summer, to compensate for their low pay,

While professional development is relaxing for some people, it is still school-related and not necessarily a vacation.

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What Summer Vacation Really Looks Like

While many teachers spend their time relaxing over the summer break, frequently, teachers look at summer break as a time to get work done when there are no students in the picture. 

This work obviously does not involve teaching, but it does involve preparation for the upcoming school year.  

Some things teachers may do over the summer holiday that they never talk about are:

  • Packing and changing classrooms
  • Updating displays in the room
  • Updating and creating lesson plans
  • Labelling and laminating things
  • Learning about how to reach their new students best
  • Catching up on personal appointments that cannot be made during the school year

As you can see, teachers may get “paid” for their holidays, but after seeing all the work that goes into the profession of teaching, it is quite understandable. (Source: Hull Live)

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Final Thoughts

Teachers in the UK do get paid for holidays, but not in the sense of other professions.

They are paid for a ten-month contract that most choose to spread out over the year.  While they do not have students with them during the holidays, they often have work-related commitments that must be followed through during their time off. 

No matter how busy a teacher’s schedule is, they do find some time to relax during their holidays. 

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Paul Fulbrookhttps://teacherofsci.com
Paul Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher, writer and education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started teacherofsci.com to help support teachers everywhere with the everyday struggles that they are all faced with, both in the classroom and at home.

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