What are the different flexible working practices in your workplace?
Part Time | Compressed Hours | School Day | PPA | Job share | Recruitment material | Parental Leave
Organisation type: Primary | Secondary | Independent
The aspect of flexible working about which we are most pleased at St Mary’s School Cambridge is the developing practice of enabling teachers to job share middle management posts, including Head of Year and Head of Department. We now have three such pairs of women working productively together; it is anticipated that there might be two such iterations post two maternity leaves and these might both involve a male/female pairing. As a girls’ school, we proudly support flexible working as role-modelling for our students as future employees who need to be exposed to best practice in the workplace.
Benefits of flexible working practice:
- Individual: this allows women who have caring responsibilities for children, post-maternity leave, or elderly dependents or who are planning for their retirement to be able to take on responsibility at a manageable level.
- Organisation: excellent professionals are encouraged and stimulated, knowing their experience and expertise is valued; it supports retention as well as career development. It also supports succession planning where an individual wishes to work towards a phased retirement.
- Pupils: as a girls’ school, such practice demonstrates possibilities of future employment to young women; excellent teachers are maintained within the school.
As someone who juggled getting married at the end of my first year of headship, lived apart from my fiancé then husband for four years, with weekend visits between Cambridge and Kent, went through the adoption process in that fourth year ahead of welcoming a five and a half year-old boy into our home as our precious son in late August with no school place secured or immediately available, I know a fair amount about juggling domestic arrangements around professional responsibilities! Now in my 13th year of headship things are calmer and I am committed to supporting others in my community.
As Head of a girls’ school where our popular marketing strapline last year and this has been #YesSheCan!, I hope that I set the tone for the rest of the community. In fact with a remarkable feisty and visionary 17th century founder, Mary Ward, who believed that ‘By God’s grace, women in time to come will do much’, I like to think that pupils at St Mary’s School Cambridge are the living embodiment of that generous vision of equality.
As for the girls, so for the staff. Over the past few years I have deliberately supported female colleagues who have wanted to take on middle management responsibility but because of caring commitments either for children or elderly dependents are not able to commit to more than half of the management responsibility. What we have established therefore are job shares. The first opportunity was for a pastoral post: we have a joint Head of Year 9 job share; both women are magnificent and I am convinced that the girls benefit from two perspectives and two very caring sources of support. Next up was a joint Head of EAL job share: one colleague is on the way to retirement and felt that this would support her personal transition from full to part-time work whilst supporting the school in terms of succession planning so that her co-Head of Department would either be in a position to take on full responsibilities or continue a job share with a different colleague later on. The third job share is for a joint Head of Geography to support two long standing colleagues who have had time out of teaching to bring up children and who have both returned part-time because of ongoing childcare support. They were appointed last year internally for next year when my longest serving colleague retires We are having the luxury of a year-long hand over – succession planning at its best.
I would encourage all heads to be as flexible as possible to support excellent colleagues who are part-time with developing their careers wherever possible. I am sure that in the future, I will be able to assist male colleagues in similar ways on return post-paternity leave and colleagues post-adoption leave. Not only does such flexibility support diversity in the workplace but offers opportunities for the students to see a variety of ways in which employment can be handled within our enriching profession.