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Department of Education launches new flexible working initiative


The Department of Education (DfE) has announced a new pilot scheme to offer flexible working in schools to help boost teacher recruitment and retention. Education Secretary Justine Greening will focus on teachers flexibly and coaching schemes for women working in education.


The announcement was made at the first Flexible Working in Schools Summit, which aims to boost support for flexible working in the teaching profession. It is part of the government’s commitment to recruiting and retaining great teachers and tackling the gender pay gap by encouraging employers to support alternative ways of working.



The summit comes days after the Prime Minister called on businesses to improve workplace equality by advertising jobs as flexible unless there are solid business reasons not to.

Flexible working summit

Justine Greening brought together leading figures from the education sector and the world of business at the first Flexible Working in Schools Summit. source:


Justine Greening who is also Minister for Women and Equalities said a more flexible workplace would help schools “keep their valued teachers” and help teachers stay in the profession as they become parents or near retirement.

She also claimed that, as difficulties with inflexible working disproportionately affect women, finding a solution would help to close the gender pay gap.

“This is already happening in many other sectors – it’s vital we ensure it is happening in our schools too so we continue to attract the best and brightest into teaching,” she said. “The pledges we have made today show that we are determined to leave no stone unturned to make the best of all of the talent and dedication in the teaching profession.”


The government will be working in partnership with the unions and leading organisations from across the education sector to promote flexible working across the profession. The plans announced at today’s summit include:

  • a pilot programme to look at how schools are already bolstering the careers of part-time teachers, so recruiting best practice can be shared;
  • a pilot to strengthen the Women Leading in Education coaching offer, so women can continue to get the professional development support they need; and
  • update existing guidance on flexible working, to help make it easier for schools to know what works.


Alongside these announcements, the government will publish a new myth buster to help answer any questions school leaders may have around recruiting for roles with flexible hours. These myths include:

  1. The teaching profession simply does not lend itself to flexible working;
  2. Flexible working is for other sectors – working at home and staggered hours just can’t happen in teaching;
  3. If I advertise a teaching job part-time, I won’t get any applicants;
  4. Flexible working is too expensive, especially at a time when school budgets are tight;
  5. Children’s learning in primary school benefits from having one consistent class teacher;
  6. Splitting classes between teachers leads to worse outcomes for secondary school pupils;
  7. Working flexibly does nothing to ease workload – teachers and leaders are paid less but do the same amount of work as their full-time colleagues;
  8. Flexible working is impossible to timetable;
  9. It is not possible for part-time teachers to have middle or senior leadership positions in schools – leadership roles need a single job holder to be accountable;
  10. Part-time teachers and leaders just aren’t as committed


The timing of the pilot has yet to be confirmed.


November 1, 2017