The One About Being Flexible

I’ll lay all my cards on the table. I’m a teacher, I work part time, I have two children and a dog and no family very close by. When I heard this week that the DfE were releasing a document aimed at making teaching more flexible to aid staff retention, I was optimistic that finally there might be a way for experienced teachers to do what was promised to us in the 19980s and have it all.

Here comes the spoiler…. it’s still a pipe dream.

For me, and so many more teaching parents, flexibility isn’t about finding the perfect job share on a dating-style website. It’s about the little things. The boss who lets you come in late so that you can take your own child to school once in a while. Or swap things around to allow you to go to a class assembly or sports day. These things require empathy from SLT and flexibility of staffing – a non-teaching Head who can cover, for example.

I want to know that when I call in and say my own child is sick, I’ll be told not to worry and that someone will cover in my class.

I want to be supported by a the removal of ridiculous planning and marking policies to adhere to that eat into family time and my unpaid days.

I want meetings that are worthwhile after the school day, not meetings that should have been an email.

And then, the BIG issue. I want to be able to develop as a teacher. To take on a leadership role but on a part time basis. I visited a school recently and was told most clearly that I’d only be paid M6 and offered no subject to lead as “you would only be part time”

What the DfE fails, quite spectacularly, to see is that any job-share brings with it increased costs. Obvious ones like extra staff to pay for on training days, but hidden ones too like extra pension and National Insurance contributions that equate to more than one full time teacher.

I’m a believer when it comes to job shares. I’ve shared with four different people over 8 years. But making it work needs more than a “swipe right” to make a success of it.

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