Rest breaks for teachers

Find out what breaks your teachers are entitled to, and read guidance from the DfE, ASCL and expert HR providers.

Last reviewed on 25 October 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 3890
  1. Teachers must get 1 break of "reasonable length" each day
  2. You can count morning and afternoon breaks as directed time
  3. Make adjustments for staff who need them
  4. Keep teacher wellbeing in mind too

Teachers must get 1 break of "reasonable length" each day

This applies to the following staff in maintained schools: 

  • Teachers, as long as they work for more than 1 school session. They can take their break either between school sessions or between 12pm and 2pm. It doesn’t count as directed time 
  • Deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers and teachers on the leading practitioners pay range. They should take this as close to the middle of the school day as possible
  • Headteachers, but they must arrange for someone to cover for them while they're on break

This is set out in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) (pages 45 and 50).

20 minutes is the minimum, but it tends to be longer

A '"reasonable length" of time is at least 20 minutes, and is usually a lunch break. A representative from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) clarified this for us.