How can schools help flexible working for teachers?


The Department for Education is looking to designate eight flexible working ambassador schools (FWAS) to boost retention within the education sector.

Set to run from April 2021 to December 2022, each school will receive a share of nearly £500,000 for taking part in the programme, which is part of the government’s recruitment and retention strategy.

It will focus on flexible working practices, with the Department for Education looking to ensure that “teaching is compatible with having children and a family life”.

Putting the emphasis on flexible working practices

Each ambassador school will need to provide peer support for head teachers in the region to enhance flexible working practices and to drive cultural change.

In addition, each school will source at least five further schools and help them to develop workable solutions around the challenges presented by flexible working, such as timetabling and meeting staffing needs.

With each school receiving £60,000 to participate, they will also be expected to provide a range of networking and guidance events, alongside a minimum of five peer-to-peer events.

According to the Department for Education, these practices should empower teachers to consider how flexible working opportunities may work for them, which in turn should drive a rise in flexible working requests.

“FWAS will support schools to offer more flexible working opportunities, which in turn can improve retention rates,” the tender for the programme states.

Which schools can apply?

To be considered for the scheme, a school must be rated good or outstanding by Ofsted for its overall effectiveness, and pass some scoring criteria.

For primary school applicants, they also require phonics scores of above 90%, as well as Progress 8 scores which are level with, or above, the national average.

Meanwhile, any secondary school will also need at least average measures for Attainment 8, Progress 8 and Ebacc.

According to figures from Schools Week, 28% of female teachers work part-time as well as 8% of male teachers.

Both of these figures fall below the national averages in the UK, where 40% of females and 12% of males work in part time jobs, something the recruitment and retention strategy may go some way to addressing.

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