Nicky Morgan unveils plans to attract more women and part timers into teaching

5th March 2016 at 16:56
Nicky Morgan

Education secretary, Nicky Morgan, is introducing new measures to attract more women and part time teachers into the profession and help tackle the recruitment crisis.

A national programme to make teaching a more flexible long-term career option will include a new website to match women with flexible teaching roles and job-share partners to help them balance family and work.

And there will be personal coaching and tailored training packages to “help smooth the transition back to the classroom for mums”.

Ms Morgan also wants to “drive up” the number of female heads and has pledged to “to set up a wave of 1,000 coaches to deliver a pipeline of future leadership talent”.

Speaking at the Association of School and College Leaders annual conference in Birmingham this weekend, Ms Morgan acknowledged the growing difficulties that many schools have in getting the teachers they need.

"We know that recruitment is a challenge," she said during a brief 15 minutes speech.

"We hear your concerns, and we know that while headline data shows a sustained low national vacancy rate, the reality on the ground for many heads is that they are struggling to attract the brightest and the best."

But she added: "Let’s not inadvertently create a vicious cycle where talk of a crisis actively puts people off entering the profession – let’s focus on communicating to the outside world what a great profession teaching is, how rewarding it can be, and what good teachers have the power to do."

Speaking to journalists afterwards, Ms Morgan, who is also minister for women, said she had several ideas on how to encourage more female teachers and "returners" to the profession into the classroom.

“One is obviously in terms of particularly targeting with recruitment and encouraging women to think about coming back into teaching," she said.

“But also in terms of mentoring. I think it was TES itself that had that article about one of the issues about women progressing in the profession is about confidence so 'what can we do to support that?'.

“And there are other sectors where you see that they offer specific support for returners to work, so things like subject knowledge enhancement. If you have been out of the profession for a number of years actually again building confidence in whatever you were doing in the classroom and how the classroom has changed.

“And I think also in terms of really encouraging schools to think about the benefits of having people working flexibly. There must be things that schools can do in terms of timetabling. I spend my life as minister for women encouraging employers to think about different ways in which they can recruit women but also keep them in the professions to which they joined."

On Friday a report from Policy Exchange and ASCL stated that between 2008 and 2012 an estimated 6,000 women aged between 30 and 39 left the profession each year.

Ms Morgan responded by saying she would explore greater “flexibilities” for teachers and today has announced a more detailed plan.

Schools are to be offered guidance on how they can offer flexible working opportunities, to encourage them to think about how teaching roles, including more senior positions, can be designed for part-time, job sharing or flexible working.

Ms Morgan said: “Too many women still feel unable to return to work after having a child, and too many parents feel they lack the support to juggle the demands of having a family and their career.

 “I want to ensure there are no limits to what women can achieve so we make the most of the exceptional talent we have in the teaching profession.”

Currently, just one in four female teachers work part-time, compared with nearly half of women in the workforce nationally.  The Department for Education argues “this is a crippling waste of talent”.

Women returning after a career break are to be offered “personal coaching and mentoring support to help them share personal experiences and challenges, as well as focusing on longer-term career ambitions” from this autumn.

They will be accompanied by “tailored training packages to refresh professional knowledge and skills across areas including pedagogy, subject content and behaviour management, helping returners refresh their teaching skills”.

Ms Morgan wants “exceptional leaders” in teaching to sign a pledge offering their time and expertise to coaching at least one woman to develop their career. She aims to have at least 1,000 coaching relationships in place next year “establishing a pipeline of promising female talent for the school leadership roles of the future”.

The education secretary also announced a new ‘Women in Education’ network today to help women realise their career ambitions within education. It will include 50 Equality and Diversity champions, to “deliver trailblazing and innovative ways to get more women and underrepresented BME groups into school leadership roles”.


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