£500k to boost flexible working and drive staff retention

The government is looking for eight schools to share almost £500,000 as part of a programme to boost flexible working and improve staff retention.  

Each flexible working ambassador school (FWAS) will receive £60,000. 

The scheme, which runs from April next year until December 2022, is part of the Department for Education’s recruitment and retention strategy, which says it is “more important than ever that teaching is compatible with having children and a family life”. 

An ambassador school will be expected to improve the practice and culture around flexible working “by providing peer support for headteachers within local and other networks”. 

Each will recruit at least five schools across its region and will help them to tackle the “practical challenges” involved in developing flexible working policies such as staffing and timetables. 

The schools also will run “at least five online peer-to-peer events” and provide “support networks, advice and guidance directly to teachers who want to access flexible working opportunities”. The DfE said this would, in turn, increase the the chance flexible working requests would be approved.

Applicants must have a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating for overall effectiveness, while this year’s phonic results for primary school applicants must be above 90 per cent, and Progress 8 scores “equal or above the national average”.

Secondary schools must have average or above average measures at Progress 8, Attainment 8 and Ebacc. 

The tender for the contract adds: “FWAS will support schools to offer more flexible working opportunities, which in turn can improve retention rates.”

The DfE’s most recent school workforce census shows the overall rate of teachers leaving the sector fell from 9.6 in 2018 to 9.2 per cent last year. However, the five-year retention rate fell from 68 per cent to 67.4 per cent. 

Schools Week previously reported that 28 per cent of women teachers work part-time, compared with the 40 per cent average for all UK female employees. 

Male teachers also lag behind the national average with 8 per cent working part-time compared with 12 per cent of men nationally. 

A Teacher Tapp survey of about 2,500 teachers last year found more than one in ten would “definitely” consider working three days a week or less.

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