1 in 6 teachers want to work part-time

Research has found that staff want flexible working hours yet many fear school leaders will reject their request.

Catherine Lough

A woman working part-time at home

One in six secondary school teachers would like to reduce their hours according to a report by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

The NFER report, ‘Part-time Teaching and Flexible Working in Secondary Schools’, also found that one in 12 secondary teachers want to reduce their hours by more than one day a week.

Researchers found that school leaders need to be more proactive in encouraging flexible working hours to improve staff retention. Just over thirty per cent of teachers who wanted to work part-time had made no formal request to do so, as they felt the request would be rejected.

In fact, only 14 per cent of teachers who asked for part-time work had their request refused, suggesting teachers’ perceptions of school leaders’ attitudes towards flexible working was a significant barrier to part-time work.

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NFER Chief Executive, Carole Willis, said: “At a time when the number of secondary pupils is forecast to increase by 15 per cent over the next decade, retaining teachers is one of the top challenges faced by schools. NFER’s previous research has highlighted that the profession is losing good teachers due to a lack of flexibility.”

“Taking a more proactive and positive approach to offering part-time and flexible working opportunities could help school leaders to retain the expertise of teachers rather than losing them permanently from the state sector.”

However, Willis said that new approaches to flexible working were not a ‘panacea’ for the challenges facing teachers. She said the government also needed to work with the profession to make staff workload more manageable.

School leaders said allowing teachers to work on a part-time or flexible basis improved staff retention and teachers’ wellbeing and energy at work.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We simply must stem the exodus of teachers from the profession, and one way we can do that is to improve opportunities for part-time and flexible working.

"It won’t solve the crisis on its own, but it will help, and we welcome the positive and supportive contribution of this report.”

“People increasingly expect employers to adapt to changes in their lives and we must rise to that challenge. It is also vital that the government improves teachers’ pay after many years of stagnation, that it funds schools properly, and that it does more to ease the pressure caused by an excessive and morale-sapping accountability system.”


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Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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