by Emma Sheppard @maternityCP Founder of The MTPT Project
Part 1: Full Time Flexible Working Options
These suggestions have been collated from conversations across the WomenEd and MTPT Project communities. They work on an assumption that leaders trust their staff to ensure they are working to provide the best possible outcomes for their students at all times. Please do comment with questions or additional suggestions, as this is definitely not an exhaustive list.
Late starts/ Early Finishes
Allowing staff to start later than the normal school day can be particularly beneficial to those who need to do the school drop off, or have a long commute that impacts on their wellbeing. Time wasted sitting in rush hour traffic can be gained with an additional 30 minutes at home to respond to emails, plan, or mark; money saved on additional drop off or breakfast club services can mean the difference between a parent returning to the classroom or not.
- Remove or reduce form time responsibilities
o Share form between two members of staff who would benefit from a later start 2-3 times a week
o Empower a TA or member of support staff, or SLT member to act as a ‘floating’ form tutor to cover one form time a week for multiple members of staff
o Organise co-form tutor arrangements with trainee teachers, with a crossover day to add the mutual benefit of pastoral mentoring or shadowing
o Where staffing allows, remove form time duties altogether, at the Principal’s discretion
o Use assembly days wisely: is it necessary for all staff to be present in assembly if additional SLT members/ speakers make up the necessary student: staff ratios?
- Clever timetabling to avoid p.1 or afternoon lessons
o Where year groups/ specialisms are blocked at the same time, avoid timetabling staff requesting late starts or early finishes with these classes.
- For example, if Year 7 are timetabled to have Science three times a week, and two of these fall on a Tuesday and a Thursday morning, a member of the Science team could drop this Year 7 class and start later two days a week.
- In Primary settings, can music, PE or ICT specialisms be timetabled at the beginning or end of the day to enable class teachers to start later?
Work from home
Officially, schools have contracted hours for their teachers, normally something like 8:00-16:00, but we all know that the majority of teachers regularly work outside these hours. Trusting a colleague to work from home, therefore, is actually something that all SLT already do!
- One whole working from home day:
o Compress timetables to give staff one whole day at home to complete planning and administration tasks that they would otherwise complete in their free periods across the week. Often, this will result in increased productivity in these areas because staff are not interrupted by colleagues visiting for a chat, students’ disruptions in the hallway or their daily commute.
o This is particularly effective for SLT members, or TLR holders who may have a lighter teaching timetable and more administrative demands on their time.
- Half days working from home:
o Where free periods or PPA time occurs in the afternoon or morning, and form time duties are not an issue, allow staff to work from home on administrative tasks.
o It allows staff flexibility in how they manage time – using their afternoon/ morning as they need to, and catching up at a time more suitable to them.
- The difference between compressed hours and working from home is that the assumption is made that teachers working full time over four days, for example, will not complete any administrative tasks on their day off.
- This can be a very viable option for class teachers who do not necessarily need free periods to complete learning walks, management meetings or support teams with behaviour.
- Timetabling is organised so that teachers forgo the majority of their frees during the week in order to have an entirely clear day once a week where they are not expected to work.
- They may choose to work longer hours on their in-school days, either on site or at home, or may find more efficient and ‘smart’ ways of working to achieve the same quality of teaching and learning as if they were in every day of the week.
If the work is being completed and the quality of the staff member’s performance is sustained or even improved because of more flexible approaches to work, does it really matter when this administrative work gets done?