WomenEd Blogs

Flexible Working Practices Blogs from WomenEd

By Caroline Doherty @_C_J_B

 

Dear Headteacher,

If I were to offer you a simple way to get you a more diverse, skilled, happy and engaged workforce with greater levels of wellbeing, you’d say it sounds far too good to be true!

However, when I chaired a webinar on Flexible Working in partnership with the Department for Education and Teaching Vacancies this is exactly what we heard from our expert panellists happens when schools offer opportunities to work flexibly. You can watch the full recording here

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by Katy Marsh-Davies @KatyAcademic

I received the following email response from a colleague in professional services today: ‘Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I only work part-time’. I’ve had this response from colleagues before, but this time it rankled. I already knew she worked part-time because I received her automatic email reply. I also knew because a senior colleague had told me, in hushed tones, that members of her team mainly work part-time, ‘so you might not always get the support you need in a timely manner’.

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by Lorraine Walker @LWalkerTeach

 

'Half (51%) of employers agree that there is sometimes resentment amongst employees towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.' (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018)

I (shamefully) admit to previously having jealous thoughts towards staff who left work on time, arrived on time, didn’t participate in evening events, confidently declined summer school classes, and received a year off work.

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Dr Katy Marsh-Davies @KatyAcademic

It feels strange to talk about a global pandemic having upsides but as we hope we are approaching the end of many restrictions in the UK, it seems apt to reflect on what lessons we might learn from the life-changing experience we’ve all been through.  As a Business School academic, with a passion for exploring professional lives, I spent last year researching teachers’ experiences of working remotely.

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by Lynn How @Positive_Y_Mind    www.positiveyoungmind.com

Could you be a great educational leader if you had more flexibility? I see leadership potential in women everywhere I turn in education. Unfortunately, many of these are woman who have motherhood and childcare to balance alongside their careers, many choose parenting over their career. If I needed to make that binary choice, I would choose the same but what if you could have both?

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by Cara Carey @CaraCarey20

I’ve always been very career focused and loved my job as a teacher. In fact, I remember one colleague expressing surprise at my pregnancy as she thought I was more of a ‘career woman’… as if you could only be one or the other. But I’d known that I wanted children for as long as I could remember. I’d progressed to middle leadership fairly quickly, and at 30 when I fell pregnant with my first child, I was in my first year as Head of Sixth Form.

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by Jo Pellereau @PhysicsJo

I am blessed to have two wonderful children, both the result of gruelling IVF procedures and following pregnancies dotted with the stress of hyperemesis, blood loss and a bout of post natal depression following the birth of my second child. The impact on my wellbeing and the toll it took at work is my primary motivation for undertaking a PhD in Education looking at fertility issues and how schools handle them.

Despite these challenges, at no point in the past almost 4 years have I considered my career to be over or even paused. It has taken a different direction than I thought, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have importance to me or to my sense of identity. In fact in many ways my commitment to education has been increased by my new identity as a mother.

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by Emma Turner @Emma_Turner75

Flexible working needs modelling at all levels of responsibility, and if we are to avoid so-ing, then leaders have a duty to analyse who their flexible workers are and to see if they are representative of all levels, pay grades and responsibilities across their organisations. If we are to see flex as a realistic and aspirational model then it needs modelling at all career stages and in all roles. Flexible working should be seen as just that, flexible; it should be seen as a chance to shape, mould and develop existing norms and to innovate. It should not be seen as a second rate option to the premier glory of full time. It should also not be associated with specific levels of responsibility or roles.

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by Emma Turner @Emma_Turner75

I am a mother of three small children and I work flexibly, part time, in education. Now read that sentence back.

How many read the word, 'and' but heard or inferred 'so'? How many inferred that I work flexibly because of my children rather than the flexible working setup being seen as separate and unconnected and a proactive rather than a reactive choice? For too long and across too many aspects of our education sector (and our lives) our flexible workers’ choices are attributed a 'so' rather than an 'and. It is almost as if flexible working needs to be excused or explained by being prefaced by a reason for its very existence and accompanied by an unrequested but seemingly necessary apology for not working full time or in a traditional working pattern.

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by Lulu Oragano @LuluOragano

Senior Leader: Welcome back, I’ve put your timetable on your desk.

Me: Oh thanks. Oh, but I’m teaching Citizenship?

Senior Leader: Yeah, you’re brilliant, you can teach anything.

Meant as compliment, very few teachers deliberately want a woman returning from having a baby to feel unwelcome, undervalued or side-lined in anyway, but it may happen without realising.

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by Lulu Oragano  @LuluOragano

Jan: So, I was being serious when I asked- do you want to job share?

Me: Yes, I would love to.

Jan: Let’s do it.

And so we did….

I was the Head of Drama in a Secondary school in South London and Jan was the Head of Visual and Performing Arts. Having returned from her maternity leave she had requested to work part-time, wanting the benefits of keeping her senior middle leader role, whilst also spending time with her new baby.

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by Lindsay Patience @Mumsyme

I recently replied to a question on social media from someone returning after maternity to a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) asking if it was normal to have your TLR payment reduced if you reduced your working hours.

The query was posted in a Facebook group “MTPT Project – Connect!” which is a forum for teachers before, during or after parental leave. Of course the poster was surprised by the situation where she was still expected to complete 100% of her Teaching and Learning Responsibility but would only be paid 90% of the pay allowance.

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by Raphael Moss @mrrmoss

A conversation I had with the inspirational Vivienne Porritt was the catalyst for me to seek feedback from staff who had benefited from flexible or part-time working.

Over the years, in my privileged position as Headteacher, I have consciously made the effort to try and accommodate requests for flexibility or part-time working. It’s part of the bigger picture of what it means to really support well-being; how the overarching ethos and culture of a school means far more to people’s well-being than any tokenistic add-ons such as free tea bags in the staffroom.

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by Lindsay Patience, (Flexible Teacher Talent) @mumsyme @FlexTeachTalent


We set up Flexible Teacher Talent because Lucy Rose and I were frustrated by the lack of flexible working options for female leaders in education and we wanted to help stem the flow of female teachers (particularly mums) aged 30-39 from our schools. Our research, campaigning and work with schools have all contributed to a realisation that flexible working isn’t just for mums. The benefits are multifaceted and the desire and reasons for wanting to work flexibility are diverse.

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By Kate Smith @MrsKatieSmith

I write this blog just a few weeks after Sir Andrew Carter’s most unhelpful comments about how it is ‘wrong and immoral’ for teachers to ask for their hours to be reduced after taking on full-time jobs.

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