Flexible working: DfE announces new list of school ambassadors

But only three of the original participant schools and trusts are part of the new programme

But only three of the original participant schools and trusts are part of the new programme

28 Jun 2023, 9:50

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The DfE has announced the names of flexible working school and trust ambassadors as part of its national programme

The government has announced the names of schools and trusts that will act as flexible working “ambassadors”.

But only three of the eight organisations that took part in a predecessor scheme are on the list for the flexible working ambassador multi-academy trusts and school programme.

The organisations will support other schools to improve flexible working policies as part of the government’s national programme to deliver a “culture change” in the sector.

Improving flexible working in schools is a key part of the DfE’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy.

But data from its own working lives survey showed that, as of last year, fewer than half of teachers had some kind of flexible working, such as a part-time role.

Charles Dickens Primary School in London, Malmesbury School in Wiltshire and Upton Court Grammar School in Berkshire each received £60,000 as part of the flexible working programme between April 2021 and December 2022.

Following a tendering process for a new group of ambassadors, the three original organisations will each receive another £55,000 to serve from this month until March 2025.

Four new ambassadors are also joining the programme, which is being run by outsourcing firm Capita. These are…

  • Abbey School, Nexus Multi-Academy Trust
  • Harrogate Grammar School, Red Kite Learning Trust
  • Ormiston South Parade Academy, Ormiston Academies Trust
  • Thomas Gainsborough School, Unity Schools Partnership

Five original ambassadors missing from list

But five of the original ambassadors are not on the DfE’s list. The DfE said original ambassadors did have to option to apply for the new programme but would not comment on how many did.

Schools Week contacted them to ask whether they had bid to take part.

Impington Village College said it did not bid “to enable other schools in the region to apply and continue to build on the foundations that we laid”.

It means that there are currently seven ambassadors. The DfE originally said it would select 12.

It told Schools Week the shortfall was because it had not yet named an ambassador in every region, “but we are working on plans to secure full coverage”.

“In the meantime, regardless of location or specialism, those needing support should contact our delivery provider, Capita, directly via their website,” it added.

Under the scheme, ambassadors will offer other schools advice on flexible hiring and “overcoming” common challenges such as with timetabling and budgeting.

They will also work with Capita on a national programme of free workshops and webinars covering topics such as co-headship and job sharing.

Capita is set to deliver “a strategy for culture change and promote the programme across the sector” over the nearly two-year programme.

It confirmed in February that it had been awarded the £768,000 contract.

Schools Week reported yesterday that the firm had lost another £233 million government contract to administer the teachers’ pension scheme after 27 years.

Data from the labour force survey shows the pandemic did not substantively affect the prevalence of home-working for teachers. 

But the proportion of similar graduates who reported mainly working from home increased rapidly from about 15 per cent in 2018-19 to 44 per cent in 2021-22. 

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One comment

  1. Waste of money. Why not use the funding to directly solve the problem with practical solutions. No instead of appoint some goons on excessive wages to tick some boxes