Allocating Teaching Periods in NSW Public Schools

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In high schools, the allocation of teaching periods is a crucial aspect of maintaining a well-organized and efficient learning environment. This article delves into the provisions outlined in Clause 16 of the NSW teaching award, shedding light on how teaching periods are distributed among teachers, head teachers, and deputy principals. Additionally, we explore the responsibilities and opportunities that come with “alternate periods” and “in lieu of” classes, as well as the considerations for Year 12 relieving periods.

Allocation of Regular Teaching Periods

Teachers, head teachers, and deputy principals in high schools may be assigned a specific number of regular teaching periods per week, as determined by the principal. The exact number of periods depends on the classification and, for sport-related periods, refers to Subclause 16.6.

Responsibilities for Alternate Periods

In addition to regular teaching periods, high school staff may be required to relieve an absent colleague by working alternate periods. These alternate periods are defined in Subclause 2.3 and vary in frequency based on the classification:

  • Teachers in High Schools: Up to 6 alternate periods per term.
  • Head Teachers in High Schools: Up to 5 alternate periods per term.
  • Deputy Principals in High Schools: Up to 3 alternate periods per term.

Considerations in Allocating Alternate Periods

When assigning alternate periods, principals must consider the non-teaching duties of the staff members and allocate the periods, whenever possible, within the same faculty as the absent teacher. This approach ensures a smooth workflow and maintains consistency in subject expertise.

Voluntary Alternate Periods

Teachers, head teachers, and deputy principals are not precluded from voluntarily working school-generated or other alternate periods if the welfare of students and work exigencies necessitate it. This flexibility provides opportunities to address specific needs without compromising student support.

“In Lieu of” Classes

Teachers may be required, at the principal’s discretion, to take “in lieu of” classes as defined in Subclause 2.35. This arrangement involves teachers covering for colleagues who are absent from the classroom on duty elsewhere or performing other duties.

Sports Supervision and Alternate Face-to-Face Teaching

To accommodate sports supervision, principals can make arrangements with teachers, with their agreement, to undertake two periods of alternate face-to-face teaching duties during weekdays or conduct sports supervision on weekends. This approach provides a balanced schedule for both teaching and sports-related activities.

Year 12 Relieving Periods

During Term 4, when Year 12 students leave to sit for their Higher School Certificate examinations, teachers with Year 12 classes may be required to take up to 50% of their timetable load as Year 12 relieving periods. Where possible, these periods should be allocated within the same faculty as that of the absent teacher.


The allocation of teaching periods in high schools is a critical aspect of maintaining a productive and supportive learning environment. By understanding the provisions outlined in Clause 16, schools can effectively distribute regular and alternate periods, ensuring a balanced workload for teachers, head teachers, and deputy principals. The flexibility of “in lieu of” classes and voluntary alternate periods allows for a responsive approach to the school’s needs, while Year 12 relieving periods provide necessary support during crucial times. Ultimately, these provisions contribute to a positive teaching experience and foster a conducive atmosphere for student growth and achievement.

Elise is an enthusiastic and passionate Australian teacher who is on a mission to inspire and support fellow educators. With over a decade of experience in the classroom, Elise leverages her expertise and creativity to provide valuable insights and resources through her blog. Whether you're looking for innovative lesson ideas, effective teaching strategies, or just a dose of inspiration, Elise has got you covered.

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