The Department for Education (DfE) commissioned CooperGibson Research (CGR) to conduct an online survey to gather evidence on the attitudes and experiences of flexible working in schools, and how flexible roles can be effectively designed and implemented in the sector.

This is part of a wider project focusing on flexible working in schools, and helps fulfil a pledge made by DfE to ‘carry out research looking at changing recruitment practices in schools, to inform our guidance about how schools can introduce flexible working’.

It also supports a commitment made by DfE in the 2019 Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy; to carry out research that can inform work to help support schools to implement flexible working.

Managing flexible working requests

Most senior leaders (83% of 1,589) stated that their school had a procedure in place for managing flexible working requests, and the majority had received requests for flexible working in the past five years (77% of 1,589). Where a flexible working procedure was not in place in a school, this was most commonly reported to be because senior leaders were unsure about what should be included in such a policy, or how to go about developing one (38% of 264).

Nearly all senior leaders (92% of 1,371) said that childcare was the main reason for staff requesting flexible working arrangements, with over half (57% of 1,371) mentioning work/life balance as a key driver for requesting flexible working. Just over a third of senior leaders (34% of 1,371) said that nearing retirement/wanting to work less hours per week for more years was a key reason for requesting flexible working.

Declining flexible working requests

More than one-quarter of senior leaders (29% of 1,589) said that flexible working requests had been declined in their schools. Where they had been declined, the most common reason given by senior leaders was not being able to organise work amongst existing staff/timetabling issues (69% of 453 senior leaders).

Both senior leaders and teachers most commonly reported that their own requests for flexible working had been declined due to perceptions that flexible working did not work in school environments. Teachers also noted that requests were declined due to perceptions of a potential detrimental effect on pupils.

Implementing flexible working in schools

The most common forms of flexible working implemented in schools were part-time hours, personal/family days and job shares (reported by 86%, 62% and 54% of senior leaders respectively). Where flexible working practices were not currently implemented, senior leaders most commonly stated that this was because no teaching staff had made a request (88% of 192).

Benefits of flexible working

Nearly three-quarters of senior leaders who had implemented flexible working in their school (74% of 1,314) felt that these arrangements had helped staff to manage their workload/work-life balance; 89% of 766 teachers working flexibly also agreed with this statement.

The large majority of teachers working flexibly felt that doing so improved their well-being (85% of 766). Teachers working flexibly in special schools were significantly more likely than those in other settings to view flexible working as a way to access more professional development opportunities.

Challenges of flexible working

Just over one-quarter of senior leaders who reported challenges in implementing flexible working (26% of 929) said that job share arrangements had not worked well in their school; 15% highlighted part-time working as a problem.

Where they felt flexible working had not worked, senior leaders’ qualitative feedback noted challenges relating to factors such as ensuring continuity in the classroom, a negative impact of flexible working on staff workload and school budget, and the need to maintain clear communications (such as between job share partners).

Over three-quarters of teachers working flexibly (77% of 730) reported that managing their workload and not working beyond contracted hours was a key challenge to flexible working in their schools.

Feeling unable to request flexible working

Less than one-quarter of teachers responding to the question (13% of 1,302) said that they had considered flexible working but not felt able to request it (the remainder did not feel unable to request it). Where they had felt unable to do so, this was most common among teachers in special schools.

Most of the teachers who felt unable to request flexible working gave additional qualitative feedback that this was due to the culture of the school they worked in, and a lack of flexible working policies/options being in place.

Considering other forms of flexible working

Teachers were more likely than senior leaders to say that they would consider other forms of flexible working that were not currently open to them. Where they answered the question, teachers most commonly reported that they would consider personal/family days, home/remote working, and flexi/lieu time (36%, 30% and 27% of 1,276 respectively).

Teachers in special schools were significantly less likely than those in primary and secondary settings to say they would consider working part-time. However, those in special schools were more likely to say that they would consider home/remote working, flexi or lieu time. Teachers in secondary schools were twice as likely as those in other settings to say that they would consider staggered hours.

Personal perceptions

At least one-third of senior leaders strongly agreed that their school was committed to flexible working and tried to accommodate requests, and that they would be more likely to remain in the profession long-term if they were able to work flexibly.

However, onethird of senior leaders responding to the question (33% of 1,585) did not believe flexible working was compatible with their role. Over half of teachers strongly agreed that flexible working was an effective way to create a better work-life balance.

In comparison to senior leaders, teachers more commonly thought that flexible working was compatible with their role.

Family leave

When returning to work following maternity, paternity or adoption leave, employees have the right to request flexible working.

Where they responded to the question, in the last five years, 28% of 1,302 teachers had taken maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

When comparing responses by gender, male teachers were less likely (compared to their female counterparts) to report being made aware of the right to request flexible working on return to work following parental leave (including paternity/adoption leave) – 23% of 48 male teachers compared to 59% of 312 female teachers.

Supporting flexible working

When asked to identify the types of support they felt had been valuable in supporting flexible working in their schools, nearly two-thirds of senior leaders responding to the question (63% of 329) felt that joint Preparation, Planning and Assessment (PPA) time for job share partners was very valuable.

Senior leaders were keen to access more information, advice, guidance or training on how flexible working could be implemented. This varied from information for teachers, to information and guidance for governors and leadership teams.

The detailed feedback provided on the types of support that senior leaders felt would be valuable will be used to inform phase three of this project involving telephone interviews and a flexible working pilot with a small number of schools.

Findings from a survey of teachers and senior leaders which explored flexible working practice in schools:

 

Exploring flexible working practice in schools: interim report

Ref: ISBN 978-1-83870-012-6 , DFE-RR913PDF, 2.72MB, 76 pages

Details

The report summarises findings from a survey of teachers and senior leaders across schools in England.

It provides evidence on existing flexible working practice and attitudes towards, and experiences of, flexible working in schools.

The report forms part of a wider research project exploring flexible working practice in schools.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page