What is the context?
A quarter of the UK’s workforce already works part-time, while nearly two-thirds of the UK’s full-time workforce has some other form of flexibility. However, this is not reflected across the education sector.
The DfE’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy reports that many teachers leave or choose not to return to teaching because they cannot access part-time or other flexible working opportunities.
While there can be some real or perceived barriers to flexible working in schools, there is more that can be done to accommodate requests where possible.
ASCL co-chaired the Flexible Working in Schools Summit in December 2017. We have a long-standing commitment to encouraging and supporting more flexible working in schools.
We welcome the DfE’s commitment, in their Recruitment and Retention Strategy, to support headteachers to adapt to changing demands by helping to transform approaches to flexible working.
ASCL believes that all employers should positively consider flexible working opportunities for all staff. They should proactively work to overcome any challenges that this may present in order to recruit and retain high quality staff, and to help address equality and diversity issues across the profession. We will support our members to do this by providing guidance, case studies and articles, and signposting relevant research and literature.
Why are we saying it?
The teacher recruitment and retention crisis is worsening year-on-year and, with a projected significant increase in secondary pupil numbers by 2026, urgent action needs to be taken.
Flexible working has been highlighted as one way to help increase both recruitment and retention. This is by enabling schools to recruit talented staff that may otherwise not have applied and to retain specialist expertise and maintain the breadth of curriculum.
It can also provide opportunities to reduce costs by implementing alternative ways of working.
In addition to helping to address equality and diversity issues, flexible working has been shown to have a positive impact on staff wellbeing, leading to improved energy and creativity for the whole staff.