Flexible Working for Teachers and School Leaders

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How can schools better support teachers in balancing their personal and professional roles?

Most senior leaders often add caveats that they only agreed to flexible working for non-teaching staff or those without leadership responsibility (DfE, 2019)

The above quote is taken from exploring flexible work practices schools (DfE, 2019)

The switch from full to part-time working

In 2011 I was considering moving from full to part-time teaching as a male, senior leader in a secondary school.

Then, without warning, I faced redundancy, leading to a period of significant personal and professional upheaval. At the same time, my son was also born prematurely at 28 weeks, weighing just 1lb 6oz. During those early days, blogging about Freddie’s progress and my experiences became a lifeline, resulting in the creation of TeacherToolkit. This platform has since grown into a resource platform you may now know, used by teachers across the globe.

Raising a child is a tough journey for any parent-teacher. Raising a premature child? It is much tougher, but I appreciate it is not a competition. Parenting is a joy, and it is also challenging. For me? Doing this while navigating redundancy may explain my moral compasses and some of the views you see etched across the 3,000 blog posts on this site.

Reflecting on thirteen years, my experiences remind me of the importance of flexible working, particularly for teachers. Ten years ago, part-time roles for male school leaders were unknown. They still are today! And although some progress has been made with improved flexible working conditions in schools, this is an impossible ask for head teachers against a landscape of recruitment and funding. It makes the profession a tough choice for some, and I wonder what changes in law need to support parents.

Freddie celebrated his 13th birthday this week, and tradition states that he should climb inside my t-shirt and continue with our annual tradition. However, he now believes otherwise!

Follow your passions

In my life professional life, I try to teach him about the world of business, and I’m pleased to report he received his first paycheck this week. I have written in great detail about my son since his recovery from premature birth. I have written about how he inspires me, motivates me to work in general, and how these experiences drive me to work within the education sector. My motivation is to make teaching an inclusive space (e.g., summer born admissions, pupil premium) for ALL children and all teachers (e.g., whatever rating Ofsted inspection has judged your school).

I hope that from my difficult experiences, others benefit from this website or from some of the teacher training sessions I lead physically and virtually. It is important for me to continue to speak up, because I know others cannot for a variety of reasons.

Thirteen years later, I wonder how many male school leaders are working part-time?

Schools should foster an environment where flexible working is seen as a viable option for all staff, regardless of gender …

What are the barriers to (male) flexible working in your school, and how can they be addressed?

6 thoughts on “Flexible Working for Teachers and School Leaders

  1. It’s not just male teachers it’s the same for women too. When I asked to work part time I was expected to give up my head of maths in a large high school. There are more part time women because like me they give up leadership roles. Thinking through everyone who I know who is part time they don’t have leadership roles which are inevitably better paid. my career didn’t recover but I’m happy with the choice I made.

    1. yep, not denying the problems for female teachers. It’s much more of an issue, as the profession is 75% female. The biggest challenges due to lack of funding, schools are between a rock and a hard place to enable flexible working

  2. I’d like to go part time as I am in my 59th year and female. It has been denied therefore like many in this profession I will leave prematurely.

  3. There are a number of part time positions in Hong Kong, though the salary doesn’t cover basic needs. The workload and demands are near equal to full time positions, making it difficult to transition to part time.

    Many become tutors, to get that freedom in their schedule and be in control. It is a shame, as the school schedules are outdated for the generation we are in.

    1. Yes. I do wonder how schools can evolve when essentially parents, who need to attend work, need to send their children to school for the entire day. I think forever in a day, will always need schools to have children in a physical location from nine till five unless society can solve an approach to flexible schooling…

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