How to implement flexible working practices in your school 

The world of work is changing. Each year, more and more people are leaving the traditional 9-5 routine behind and transitioning towards working as they want to. On their own schedule, from anywhere in the world. They’re taking back control and enjoying a host of benefits.

But while the world of work in general has progressed rapidly, the education sector is yet to embrace this. We’re not suggesting teachers should work remotely. After all, controlling a Sixth Form class would be a lot harder if you weren’t in the room. But there is a strong case to be made for schools to offer flexible working.

Do teachers want flexible working?

By far the biggest reason for teachers leaving the profession is lack of work/life balance, but the evidence does suggest that teachers could be retained if more was done to support the shift to flexible working.

Job adverts that mention the words ‘part-time’ get 13% more interest than those that don’t, and given the fierce competition, that’s well worth considering. A survey of almost 2,500 teachers found that 11% would “definitely” consider working three days a week or less if they were able to find a job-share partner, with a further 18% choosing the option “yes, perhaps”.

Why flexible working would be good for schools

Teachers are suffering in today’s education sector, and it’s easy to see why. Teacher training shortfalls, growing class sizes, constant regulatory pressure, and ever-increasing academic demands are just a few of the problems facing teachers today.

Teachers work an average of 12 hours unpaid overtime every week – the highest of any profession. And the most common reason for teachers leaving the profession in droves is a “lack of work-life balance”.

In other industries, flexible working like job sharing, flexible hours and remote work have had very positive impacts on productivity and absenteeism. This intuitively makes sense: working fewer hours gives employees more time to reflect, recharge, and give their all.

If even a fraction of those productivity gains could be replicated in schools, then shifting to flexible work would be a win-win for everyone. Your school will stand out from competitors and being able to describe the flexible working you offer will help your job postings instantly cut through the noise. Top talent will take note – and this could even be the deciding factor for those considering more than one offer. We understand that this isn’t going to be easy to implement, but there are several different strategies you can use.

How to implement flexible working practices in your school

While you can’t necessarily copy the strategies used by cutting-edge tech firms, you can benefit from flexible working practices in your school.

Tip 1

One initiative many schools have had success with is allowing teachers to complete their PPA time at home. Giving staff the choice to do this work where they want to affords them valuable autonomy in their role.

Tip 2

Consider timetabling specific late starts or early finishes for teachers. While this is a little harder to organise, most appreciate having a little notice ahead of deviation from their standard working hours.

Tip 3

Test new ways to design jobs with flexibility built in by trialling new approaches to designing part-time and flexible jobs, which still work within the school timetable and maintain quality teaching standards.

Tip 4

Job-sharing is a common flexible working arrangement used in schools around the country. While this has typically been reserved for specific cases in the past (e.g. a new mother returning from maternity leave), there’s no reason why other individuals couldn’t consider this option. Some teachers find not being in the classroom with a particular group every day challenging – but for others, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Final thoughts

The case for flexible working is stronger than it has ever been. Businesses all over the world are seeing the positive implications of offering flexibility and a little control back to their employees. Increased productivity, motivation, job satisfaction – that’s just a few of the many benefits. Schools have nothing to lose by at least looking into offering staff flexible working arrangements.

In 2020, being one of the few schools out there that makes an effort to help teachers live more balanced lives will set you apart from competitors. You’ll find attracting top talent easier than ever with this clear advantage.

About the author

AmbleglowAmbleglow is a full-service education marketing agency, specialising in advertising and marketing for schools, based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. They've partnered with over 600 schools across the UK assisting them with everything from recruitment advertising to full-blown marketing strategies including print adverts, social media planning and implementation as well as SEO and PPC efforts.

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