The One About Job Sharing

How Can Job-Sharing Enhance School-wide Curriculum Design?

This article first appeared the Chartered College of Teaching’s journal, Impact, in Summer 2019.

In January 2019, Damian Hinds announced that the DfE would be supporting schools to implement flexible working practices such as job-sharing, where two teachers perform the role of one full time staff member, as part of the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy (DfE, 2019). Hinds notes that job-sharing is relatively uncommon in teaching compared to other lines of work. The strategy identifies some ways in which job-sharing could be more easily implemented in schools, focussing on the benefit to the teacher.

January 2019 also saw the release of the draft OFSTED Inspection Framework for 2019 (OFSTED, 2019) in which there is a clear expectation that the curriculum be broad and balanced, with high and equal expectations across a wide range of subjects for all learners. Here, I consider the extent to which the practice of job-sharing can help a school to develop the breadth and balance of its curriculum offer, based on research findings and my own experiences of job-sharing in a small, rural primary school. The potential effects, both positive and negative, of some models of job-sharing on the primary curriculum are considered.

How Common is Job-Sharing?

Within education, around 22% of the workforce work part time hours (DfE, 2017a). The School Workforce Survey (DfE, 2017b) does not differentiate between teachers who are contracted as part of a formal job share and those who are employed on a part-time contract, so it is unclear exactly how many teacher posts are formally job-shared in UK. It is, however, recognised that part time working, in all its forms, is less common than in other areas of employment  – 28% of women in education compared to 40% in other areas, and 8% of men compared to 12% (DfE, 2017a) Although not specific to education, data from Understanding Society (University of Essex, 2018) states that only 2.1% of the UK population surveyed reported using job-sharing in their workplace. In  their guidance issued in 2017( DfE 2017a), the DfE identifies that job sharing can work extremely well in leadership group roles, but note that its use is still unusual. The Timewise Power 50 Awards (Timewise, 2018) cited one example of leaders within education and described this as being a “rare example”.

Both the Draft Framework and the Recruitment and Retention Strategy make it clear that ensuring high quality curriculum planning is the responsibility of the school leadership team – heads of department or subject and other school leaders. Within most primary schools, a staff of 8-15 teachers would not be unusual and, within that staff, one would generally find a spread of teaching experience – from those new to teaching through to teachers with perhaps decades of experience. Alongside this, staff will have varying subject strengths and specialisms. Schools may aim to recruit staff to ensure a balance, but with 12 national curriculum subjects, plus PHSE and RE, to be covered it is unlikely that there will be sufficient expertise in the average staff team for each subject to be led by one specialist. Increasing the availability of job sharing will, by its very nature, increase the staff headcount within a school and could help to broaden the range of subject expertise available for school-wide curriculum development.  In their analysis of research into collaborative curriculum planning, Voogt et al (2016) found that collaborative curriculum design developed teachers’ knowledge of both pedagogy and skills related to the subject. A school curriculum designed collaboratively would therefore seem to be a mechanism to provide in-house continuing professional development. Opportunities could further be created to allow teachers to work alongside one another in mentoring and coaching activities to share their expertise and skills, as well as team teaching of lessons and co-planning units of learning.

How Can Job-Sharing Enhance Classroom Curriculum Delivery?

Job-sharing doesn’t only provide benefits in terms of subject leadership within a school. Wiliamson, Cooper & Baird (2015) identify that careful recruitment and matching of job-share partners can bring breadth and balance to classroom teaching. This certainly chimes with my own experience in school – the more successful job sharing partnerships have been pairings of teachers with different subject strengths – one perhaps more mathematical and scientific and the other more creative and artistic. Allowing each partner to teach to their own subject strengths has many benefits for the students. Khatib (2017) identifies that the use of specialist teachers with any age of learner produces excellent results. Firstly, the teacher will have greater subject knowledge in those areas and be able to plan for and deliver a greater depth of knowledge. Workload will be reduced as the teacher has a deeper subject understanding on which to base planning. And, the teacher will enthuse about the subject in a way that engages students and allows them to develop their own love of a subject.  Within my own school, all classes are staffed by job shares, and this has allowed for teachers to teach to their curriculum strengths in terms of non-core subjects, including swapping staff across classes and key stages where appropriate, for example to allow for the most experienced member of staff to teach Modern Foreign Languages at KS2, despite usually teaching in KS1. 

What Are the Possible Limitations of Job-Sharing in Education?

One of the greatest concerns cited regarding job-sharing is that of continuity and consistency between staff members and the possible negative impact differing approaches may have on student attainment. McGovern (2017) suggests that the student-teacher relationship could be harmed by a lack of familiarity and routine. His concerns are validated by Wiliamson, Cooper & Baird (2015) who note that when job share partners do not share the same ethos and values, the partnership may not be successful. Again, this has been borne out in my own experiences – it is important to develop routines and consistent expectations between staff that allow students to feel secure within the classroom. McGovern’s concern that subject teaching may be harmed by a two-teacher approach ignores evidence which suggests that interleaving (the separation of similar learning with other content) adds a desirable difficulty to learning. Interleaving occurs naturally for job share partners who do not share planning and teach different content in core subject areas across the week. Soderstrom and Bjork (2015) describe how interleaving may lead to performance being slower and more error-prone initially, but improve learning over longer intervals. Job-share teachers who plan and teach lessons on different themes or topics could find that this interleaved approach  brings a depth of understanding, as opposed to superficial learning.  is at the heart of curriculum which be challenges students and develops their cognitive skills to allow them to adapt their knowledge and think critically about what is presented to them.

In terms of professional development, while job sharing may allow teachers to teach to their own strengths, this may then lead to a de-skilling in subjects the teacher is not responsible for. While not of immediate concern, this could potentially be an issue if the teacher returns to full time working or there is a change of job-share partner which requires a change in subject teaching arrangements.

There has been limited research into the impact of job-sharing on pupils to date. What has been noted in some research is the detrimental effect of inefficient pedagogy due to limited numbers of interactions with pupils. For example, a small, American project researched the impact of using a more secondary-style approach of subject teachers in classes (Fryer, 2018) Fryer noted that the use of multiple, specialised teachers for primary-aged pupils “decreases student achievement, decreases student attendance, and increases student behavioural problems”


While there are concerns about the impact of job-sharing in education, I believe there is much merit to the practice in all areas of the education sector. With suitable recruitment procedures and careful planning and implementation, it could see benefits not only for staffing numbers at a time when recruitment and retention is a national concern, but also wider benefits in terms of the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum which meets the needs of students.

DfE (2017a) Flexible working in schools. London.

DfE (2017b) School workforce in England: November 2017 Available at: (Accessed 23rd March 2019)

DfE (2019) Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy. London.

Fryer, R G Jr. (2018) “The “Pupil” Factory: Specialization and the Production of Human Capital in Schools.” American Economic Review, 108 (3): 616-56.

Khatib M (2017) The Question of Knowledge. Available at . (Accessed 24 February 2018)

McGovern (2017) Admit it, sharing teachers is bad for the child. Available at: (Accessed 12th February 2019)

OFSTED (2019) Education inspection framework: draft for consultation. London, UK.

Soderstrom N and Bjork R (2015) Learning versus performance: An integrative review. Perspectives on Psychological Science 10(2): 176–199.

Timewise (2018) Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2018 Available at (Accessed 12 February 2019)

University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research. (2018). Understanding Society: Waves 1-8, 2009-2017 and Harmonised BHPS: Waves 1-18, 1991-2009. [data collection]. 11th Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 6614,

Wiliamson S, Cooper R and Baird M (2015) Job-sharing among teachers: Positive, negative (and unintended) consequences. The Economic and Labour Relations Review Vol. 26(3) 448–464.

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