How Flexible is your School?

John leaves school early on a Tuesday to collect his daughter from creche. Rachel’s moving to part-time hours next year to finish her PhD. Mary’s team start late on a Friday so they can collaboratively plan for the week ahead. Best of all? Each of these requests were accommodated in a matter of minutes by the school timetabler.

Here at Edval, we’re great champions of well-managed flexible working practices. We believe that part-time staff should be treated as assets, rather than obstacles (learn more in our free eBook!), and that schools should rethink flexible working for better outcomes all round.

Healthy work-life balance is key to success in any field, but nowhere more so than a demanding, high-burnout professions like teaching. Teacher wellbeing and retention have this year dominated the headlines, with high profile school leaders raising awareness of the issues facing schools.

“Staff attrition is an international epidemic” said Elizabeth Lonergan, principal of St Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College at FutureSchools Conference in March “Recent studies show 25 percent of teachers are diagnosed with depression. Teachers are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.”

Supporting staff to work flexibly is by no means a silver bullet, but can often represent a positive first step towards a healthier, happier workforce. Research from UK-based charity, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) finds that flexible workers are much less likely to report being under excessive pressure than people who don’t work flexibly. In fact, 29% of flexible workers say they are under excessive pressure every day, or once or twice a week, compared with 42% of people who don’t work flexibly. Moreover, CIPD find that flexible working practices can improve both staff engagement and motivation, often leading to better outcomes.

In other words, the promotion of flexible working is an excellent management decision, and powerful systems like Edval make it easier to organise the timetable to better suit staff. Why shouldn’t teachers be given two fewer parents’ evenings a year, a homeroom of their own, a late start on Monday morning or their preferred day off? After all, a school’s staff are its most important asset and the timetable is the most important document in the school.

“In other sectors, flexible working has proved to be extremely effective” points out Flexible Teacher Talent co-founder, Lucy Rose “Some sectors see up to an 80% increase in productivity. If you translate productivity in another sector to pupil outcomes in education, the potential is huge.”

So why then don’t more schools embrace flexible working practices? The reasons are myriad, but reluctance is often due to some combination of outdated attitudes, poor communication, a lack of effective technology and inadequate training for time-pressed timetablers. Misconceptions around flexible working abound, with a lack of exposure to different timetabling environments through no fault of the school scheduler.

But it’s time to challenge outdated viewpoints and support our timetablers to accommodate flexible working requests with confidence. Find out more by requesting a copy of our free eBook: Rethink Flexible Working.