In recent years, flexible or agile working, has enjoyed much prominence within business and professional circles as employers seek to engage fully with their staff. However, to what extent can it change working practices in the education sector in the future?
Citizens’ advice provide a good definition of flexible working. In its most basic form it is working a different work pattern to the conventional hours of work. This includes, for example, changing from full-time to part-time work, changing the part-time hours and patterns, changing working hours to fit with a unique schedule (to accommodate school, college, care arrangements for example) compressed hours, job sharing, or working from home on occasions .
Earlier this year in March, Justine Greening addressed the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference. In her speech (which can be found here) a substantial portion of her address dealt with flexible working. Greening mentioned how this could impact on teacher supply, retention and quality. She also compared the adoption of flexible working in teaching compared to other professions and noted that education was way behind the curve. Looking forward, she promised to make improvements but was careful to state that flexible working would not solely be the solution to recruitment and retention challenges.
Flexible working, is advantageous to employees in that it can accommodate a better work-life balance and can further foster loyalty, job satisfaction and efficiency. The benefits are not just restricted to employees. Employers can benefit from reduced overheads, a motivated workforce and retaining highly skilled and specialised employees at a reduced cost.
Recently the DfE has published a policy paper, fulfilling on Greening’s to promise to prominently feature flexible working, entitled Increasing flexible working in schools, which is available via the following link.
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