Flexible Working In Schools

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Flexible working inschoolsGuidance for local authorities,maintained schools, academies and freeschoolsFebruary 2017

ContentsSummary3Expiry or review date3Who is this publication for?3Introduction4What do we mean by flexible working?6Benefits of flexible working7Flexible Working Returners Programmes9What schools and teachers need to know12Eligibility & the legal position12Teachers applying for flexible working12The impact of flexible working on pay15Part-time working and the Teachers’ Pension Scheme16Contribution Rates17Phased Retirement17Overcoming potential barriers to effective flexible working18Communications & meetings18Flexible working and the impact on pupil performance19Perceptions around part-time upper pay range teachers20Leadership and flexible working21Job Share Headship/leadership group23Recruitment252

SummaryThis publication provides advice from the Department for Education. It has beenproduced to help teachers who are considering working flexibly and to help schools andemployers considering how best to encourage, support and enable flexible workingrequests.Expiry or review dateThis advice will be reviewed before April 2018.Who is this publication for?This advice is for: School leaders, school staff and governing bodies in all maintained schools,academies and free schools.3

Introduction1.The Government values and appreciates the dedication, commitment,professionalism and hard work of teachers and school leaders, who are delivering highquality education to their pupils every day. The Government also understands thatteachers, like any other professional, should be able to do their job without sacrificing afamily life or compromising their well-being.2.We know that an increasing number of teachers want to be able to work flexiblyand that the majority of those are women returning from a maternity leave or a careerbreak. This reflects a growing trend nationally across all professions, where a recentsurvey 1 found that 58% of women returning to work after a career break of a year ormore wanted to return to part-time work. However, while the percentage of teachersworking part-time has stayed steady in recent years (at around 22%), it is still significantlylower than in the general population. Around 8.6% of male teachers work part-time,compared to 13% of men in the workforce nationally, and the difference is even greaterfor women: 26.4% of female teachers work part-time, compared to 42% of women in theworkforce nationally. This is not just a problem for equality in the teaching workforce, it isalso a factor in attracting and keeping high quality teachers.3.Flexible working policies help to recruit, retain and motivate teachers, provide thebasis for sound financial and personnel planning within schools and minimise the risk ofgrievance and discrimination. There is a significant amount of evidence 2 that shows thateffective flexible working arrangements deliver positive benefits, such as increasedemployee motivation, commitment, less absenteeism and better employee relations.4.We want to support schools to deploy all their staff effectively and efficiently, anddevelop a diverse workforce strategy which supports flexible working. We want schoolsto be leading best practice in this area and this guidance will enable schools to meet theirlegal requirements in offering equal opportunities for all, supporting good practice andmodelling these values and working practices for children and young people.5.As the Government set out last year, we are investigating ways to remove thebarriers which might deter schools advertising posts on a flexible basis and to make iteasier for prospective applicants to find these opportunities. We will also encourageschools to develop part-time training routes into teaching. Alongside these positive stepsthis guidance provides practical advice on how best to make part-time and job-sharingarrangements work in practice.Timewise 2016‘Flexible: Friend or Foe’, Vodafone, February 2016, ‘The Flex Factor: Realising the Value of FlexibleWorking’, RSA & Vodafone Report, July 2013; ‘Flexible Working Provision and Uptake’, CIPD SurveyReport, May 2012124

Individual teacher case studySummary: Returned on 0.5: “I’ve just found out my 0.5 timetable for next year,and they have very kindly worked around the fact that I want to drop off andcollect my children some of the time – they did ask me what I wanted, wholedays, or parts of, and they asked what was important to me. “I’m returning after 7 years at home with my boys. Previously I had taught Primary forabout 12 years, being Maths Coordinator for 8 years. Whilst I have been at home withmy boys, I worked for a tutoring agency and then I tutored friends’ children to GCSEmaths. I usually worked with children on CD borderline. My degree had been jointhonours in maths and education. I had found my passion for maths teaching anddecided that if I needed to retrain to return to teaching, then I’d like to teach maths atsecondary school.My return to teaching advisor, gave me the confidence to ask schools to let meobserve and gain experience. He gave me a sample letter which I could tweak. Iemailed about 30 schools, including maths hubs and teaching schools within a certainradius of my home, but I only got 3 replies. A ‘sorry but we’re too busy’, a ‘yes, comefor one day’, and then I landed on my feet with one head of maths, who took me underher wing, opened up her school to me, set up observations, a very useful shadowstudy, a chance to teach a lesson. She spoke to me as a professional and the firstthing she did was to let me talk to other mums who had returned to teaching after abreak, to help a little with my lack of confidence.My advisor helped with checking my cv and any letters I sent out, as well as readingapplication forms. It was having that someone sat on your shoulder giving youconfidence. The interview was nerve-racking, but I managed to find a team that cansee my potential and are willing to take a chance. I honestly said that I’m rusty, that Ijust need to get back in and find my teaching voice again.The fact that I’m primary trained, with 12 years classroom experience, has only beenan added bonus, I’d kept my subject matter knowledge to GCSE level up to date, and aone day course added to that. Although I am hoping that I can still do one of thereturner’s courses to secure my knowledge.I’ve just found out my 0.5 timetable for next year, and they have very kindly workedaround the fact that I want to drop off and collect my children some of the time – theydid ask me what I wanted, whole days, or parts of, and they asked what was importantto me. Also, to give me a chance to secure my maths knowledge, they have only givenme KS3 classes this year, with an after school year 11 club. I feel very lucky.If you want it, you have to be focussed and dedicated and to follow the advisor’s adviceand run with it. I was expecting to volunteer next term and to have to do more courses,I was very surprised that everything fell into place so smoothly.5

What do we mean by flexible working?6.There is a range of ways that teachers can consider working flexibly. Part time working – the most common form of flexible working across allprofessions, including teaching. Usually characterized by working less than fulltime hours and/or working fewer days;Job sharing - two or more people do one job and split the hours. Increasinglypopular option for teachers and schools, particularly where individual teachers areable to organize and propose their own job-sharing arrangements;Compressed hours - working full-time hours but over fewer days. A useful optionwhen it may not be financially convenient for a teacher to take on a reducednumber of hours. However, can have increased workload implications for thereduced number of days that an individual teacher does work;Staggered hours - The employee has different start, finish and break times fromother workers (this would be dependent on each individual application andsituation). Useful for teachers with caring/childcare responsibilities who may needto drop off or collect children but who don’t want or need to work less than fivedays a week.7.There are other forms of part-time work, such as working from home, that areincreasingly popular in other professions, but which don’t lend themselves so easily toteaching. However, while regular home-working may not be practical for most teachersin most schools, there are many schools which do offer ad hoc working from homeopportunities where appropriate.6

Benefits of flexible working8.Flexible working improves employees’ work-life balance and well-being, helps toattract and retain staff, particularly those with caring responsibilities, increasesproductivity and reduces costs. Alongside job sharing it forms a key element in manyemployers’ overall talent strategy.9.Research from the Institute of Leadership and Management has shown thatoffering people the choice to work flexibly can improve performance. Their report,Flexible Working: Goodbye Nine to Five, shows that 82% of managers think that flexibleworking benefits their business.10.A CIPD report on ‘Flexible working provision and uptake’ in 2012 found that 72%of the employers surveyed believed that implementing flexible working practices had apositive impact on staff engagement and 73% felt that it had a positive impact onemployee motivation.11. Many schools also report considerable benefits for staff, school and pupils as aresult of job sharing and flexible working. For example: A more diverse range of skills and experience can be achieved, as well as equalityof opportunity (such as reasonable adjustments for disabled staff);In small schools, particularly, a greater number of teaching staff makes coveringthe curriculum more practicable;Ill health absence may be reduced;Experienced staff return to work after maternity leave more quickly since full-timeworking can be difficult to balance with caring commitments;Effective job share arrangements can give pupils the opportunity to learn from twoexperienced teachers;Such arrangements are an alternative to early retirement for those in their finalyears of service, allowing a reduction in working time before retirement rather thanthe ‘cliff edge’ approach to retirement. Skilled and experienced members of staffwho would otherwise leave the profession may be retained by adopting theseworking arrangements;Many schools are using such arrangements to aid succession planning or ascontinuing professional development.Read more on the benefits of job sharing at Acas Job Sharing.7

Thomas Hardye is a large secondary academy in Dorchester with 2126 pupils.One of the head’s aims is for Thomas Hardye to be seen as “John Lewis type employer”by the staff. In his view it is a “sellers’ market and schools need to change their attitudeand approaches to attract and retain the best staff”. The head also strongly believes thatschools have a responsibility to take a longer-term approach particularly in relation towomen teachers who take maternity leave – many of whom are extremely talented andneed to be nurtured to fulfil their potential as future senior leaders. Increased flexibleworking opportunities are central to this approach.The school therefore takes a proactive approach to flexible working including enabling alocal nursery to be established within the schools buildings (the school receives noincome from the nursery but staff receive preferential rates if they send their own childrenthere). The head is in no doubt of the benefits, “staff are very willing to provide out ofhours activities as they feel valued and trusted. We have seen more and more stafftaking on revision and exam clubs in holidays – which is something we would never askthem or expect them to do”.Individual teacher case studySummary: Returned on 0.4: “The school that I am working for have asked me tostay. They wanted me to work full time but when I explained that I can't offer thatat this stage (due to childcare commitments) they have accommodated me. Iwould encourage anyone who has assumed that schools would not be preparedto consider a part time position to try supply teaching as a way in. “I have returned to teaching after taking 6 years out to spend time with my daughter. Atthe time, I had no plans to return to teaching but, equally, I could not imagine myselfnever teaching again. I never got out of the habit of seeing everything as a potentialstimulus for a lesson.On discovering that the school I had previously taught at was needed long term supplycover, I initially approached the head directly and then joined the school's preferredagency and they arranged it for me.I had previously been opposed to the idea. My teaching has always been based onrelationship. The idea of supply teaching was unappealing but joining the agency was areally positive step. They have been very helpful and aided communication with theschool. They have supported me personally with regular phone calls. I have alsodiscovered that there is a huge range of opportunities in teaching that I was unawareof.The school that I am working for have asked me to stay. They wanted me to work fulltime but when I explained that I can't offer that at this stage they have accommodated8

me. I would encourage anyone who has assumed that schools would not be preparedto consider a part time position to try supply teaching as a way in.It is hard to give generic advice as every individual will face a different challenge. Thebiggest hurdle for me was having the confidence to know that I had something valuableto offer. I know that I was a good teacher but the big question is 'can I still do it?' I couldonly find out by having a go. I decided I had nothing to lose. The strangest part wasthat teaching my first lesson in almost 6 years did not seem strange. It was almost as ifno time had elapsed. Systems change and methods change but children don't change.And, even in an interview si