Talent Management: Flexible Teaching

I am delighted to have been asked to become a Flexible Champion for @Flexteaching My blog for them is here: http://www.flexibleteaching.co.uk/blog/ 

How can we encourage more schools to offer Flexible Teaching Opportunities?

Recruitment, Retention, Talent Spotting and Succession Planning are recurring themes for the #womened community, I have not held nor attended an event yet since we started 2.5 years ago when this has not come up in conversation.

Last year I attended a conference by the Guardian Education team who had published a report on their research into the state of the education profession. They analyses the data of why we don’t have enough teachers and leaders. Ultimately we have more leaving then we do training, but rather than throwing incentives to encourage more graduates to train, why are we not unpicking the reasons preventing trained, experienced teachers from staying in the profession?

I was not shocked to hear that the significant demographic leaving teaching were women, between 30-39. The irony and ongoing dichotomy of our profession is that we prioritise the children of others, over our own children.

When I became a Headteacher Designate last year I pledged to ensure that all roles advertised were open to flexibility where possible. As a consequence I have a 4 day a week AHT, a 4 day a week ArtLP and a 3 day a week PE LP. The AHT does outreach and consultancy on his 5th day, our Art LP is going to spend some time on her own portfolio and our PE LP has two small children. As a school with wellbeing as one of our core values it was important to me to ensure that staff could pursue their passions, balance their families and carve out their own career pathways from the get go.

I am conscious with a start up school we are in a unique situation as we can create a new way of doing things. It also suits us to have part-time roles which could grow in to full time roles as the school expands, but this parallels some of our flexible workers who have small children, potentially wanting more hours as their children get older so it suits all of us.

My tips for other schools:

  1. Advertising:

How inclusive is your advert? I made the wording very clear in every advert, every job description and every person specification by including the same standardised sentence that we consider flexible roles.

  1. HR Documents:

The same sentence was echoed in our Person Specifications and Job Description for every teaching, leadership and operational role.

  1. Applications:

I hear all the time, at what point in the process do you ask. Do you drop it into your initial visit, your supporting statement, or at interview? In our case, because we had made it explicit in our recruitment strategy, our candidates made it explicit in their applications. I was already considering how to make it work before I had met them.

  1. Interviews:

Again, I inserted a standardised question into all of my interviews. I asked it at the end of the interview when we were finding out what salary they were seeking and what CPD they needed to support them in the role. By us leading the discussion it diffused the nerves and tension of the candidate wondering when it would be okay to ask and how we would respond so a transparent and open  conversation could take place.

  1. Negotiation:

I have been asked by a lot of #womened colleagues to also share tips, talk and write about how to negotiate your salary. My colleague and fellow co-founder Vivienne Porritt has blogged about this via StaffRm here:

https://staffrm.io/@vivienne/r1klsoBs9G

My advice is always to negotiate but to consider what you value beyond a salary increase. In the past I have negotiated an office, a mobile, a laptop, an admin support, more free periods, a paid for CPD programme more and a relocation package. The one that brought me the most satisfaction was two more free periods. My Headteacher offered me a few more grand but this would have meant more hours  in the evenings and at the weekend. I offered no more money but more non-teaching/ non-duty time. He laughed and thought I was kidding. I was promoted and maintained my wellbeing – so go in prepared, know what you want to ask for, have a gold/ silver/ bronze approach  – I always go in higher/ more demanding than I am prepared to settle – we all leave happy!

  1. Befriend the Timetabler:

In all honesty, besides traditional mindsets the biggest blocker to flexible working in schools is the timetable or the timetabler themselves. Researching and understanding how to make this work will help your negotiations. I often wonder what our timetables would be like if each SLT had a PT leader who did the timetable and was committed to making it work? It would be a game changer. I have heard many a time it is impossible, but I have spent hours at home with posts it and manual colour coded spreadsheets to make it work. Devolved timetabling to middle leaders gives the department some ownership to work as a team on removing some of the barriers and finding some mutually beneficial solutions.

  1. Contact Time:

In secondary schools, it is the Tutor Group, afterschool clubs, detentions and meetings that are the killers when you are trying to carve out flexible hours. Again, our system needs to change to respond to the changes in how we work.  Flipped lessons are a buzz word for our students, how about Flipped CPD and Flipped Meetings for the adult learners? We need to think outside of the box and be more creative about we get the desired outcomes we seek, by doing things differently.

  1. Unconscious Bias Training:

This has come up a lot regarding the launch of #BAMEed and the conception of #LGBTed and #DIisabilityEd. In other industries the senior leaders are all trained. In our schools this is not common practice. I would recommend that if all Governors, Senior Leaders and HR teams who are involved in long listing, short listing, interviewing and making job offers did this training we would see some real change in how we package our roles up.

  1. Middle Leadership:

Co-Headships are in demand from those in the profession but are rarely advertised as a recruitment tool, instead being used as a retention tool.   I understand it is a big risk with a new Headteacher, let alone a pair of new leaders who might not gel. However if schools were more open to job shares and flexibility in the middle leadership where most schools are female heavy, wouldn’t the governors and the system be more ready for shared leadership roles at a senior level including headship?

  1. KIT leave and Return to Teaching/Work

Something I have been looking into is how best to support staff who are going on  or returning from maternity leave. As DHT responsible for CPD and then the professional learning leader across a MAT, I have made some proposals to HR about how we can best support one of our vulnerable groups of staff. I have seen many women lose their confidence and often their TLRs when they come back from having a child. After reading Sandberg’s Lean In I was mortified to think of a colleague traipsing from the furthest parking lot heavily pregnant or not having anywhere to express their milk. Why are our schools so family unfriendly?

Through #womened I have made brilliant connections with women who have  utiliised social media platforms to launch collaborative projects to grow a community such as @MaternityCPD and #MTPTproject, together with Leaders with babies. The DfE have tried but failed to launch a Return to teaching/ return to work scheme which is going through another rebrand.

Ultimately, in my humble opinion I would like see more best practice identified and shared about who is getting this right. Which schools, academies, MATs are nurturing this talent. We cannot keep saying we have a recruitment issues, we need to reflect and realise we have a retention issues. But both issues could be significantly improved if we were more open as a profession to more flexible working models in our schools

Testimonial:

Charlotte James, PE LP Designate, Staff Governor, Mum of 2 and 3 days a week contract

“It’s possible to feel completely lonely in a room full of people and this is my experience when I returned to work after having my first child. Working in a very young PE department, where there had only been one women before me to have a child, there was a real lack of experience and knowledge of how to support me. Quite frankly supporting a women that’s life had completely been turned upside down by having her first child, unless you have had a child yourself  –  is something that is very difficult to understand – but as a leader if you don’t have those experiences first hand then you have to really want to try and understand. The school was a split site school that was incredibly busy and nobody was available often enough to invest their time to help and support me. Furthermore, I was told unless I returned full time I would be unable to continue with my TLR role. However, no other member of staff applied for the role and I was then asked to continue which made me and the role feel under-valued. I felt that staff thought that because I was an experienced teacher I could just pick up from where I left off 12 months ago and be fine. That was quite the opposite where I had never felt so vulnerable standing in front of 30 teenagers before. The KIT days were unstructured and at times I was just used to cover lessons. 

I happened to find Hannah Wilson on Twitter and had the cheek to ask her for some advice regarding how we could improve our maternity package. Hannah invited me for a coffee and naturally the conversation led on to the new school she would be opening September 2017. To be honest I originally thought it sounded too good to be true….with the chance of part-time leaders, which is something I thought I would never find and the thought of that made me feel trapped in my job. Since that day I have never looked back. In my 8 years of teaching I have never been offered so many opportunities to grow and never felt so valued in my contributions. Today my daughter started school and Hannah, @TheHopefulHT, allowed me to arrive to work after I had taken her to school on her first day. This is something that I will always remember and something I will always be eternally grateful for”.

Further reading and useful links:

#WomenEd:

Sarah Hardy is a full time Mummy and part-time leader, she is also one of our #womened regional leaders. Read her advice in Teach Wire here:

https://twitter.com/MsSarahHardy/status/902405542571847680

My earlier blog on co-headship:

https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/OfTpHRCQau

Leaders with Babies:

https://www.leadersplus.org.uk/

Maternity CPD Project:

http://www.mtpt.org.uk/

DFE Return to Work:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-to-make-teaching-a-more-flexible-long-term-career-for-women

2to3days:

https://www.2to3days.com/

GiniBee:

http://www.ginibee.com/

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

The fact we are modelling diversity, equality and inclusion in all of our appointments.

Currently reading and thinking about:

Next on my pile is The Leadership Gap by Lolly Daskal – a present from Kathryn Morgan.

Currently feeling grateful for:

The fantastic commitment of our team at Aureus to make flexibility and wellbeing pledges to one another to ensure that we are family-friendly.

The Power of Facing Your Fears: #Ididitanyway @WomanthologyUK

Fiona Tatton @womanthologyUK founder & editor started the #ididitanyway hashtag on Twitter & LinkedIn last week.

She is crowdfunding a new publication for women & was seeking inspirational stories from women who had faced fears to overcome adversities.

http://www.womanthology.co.uk/

I have pledged because I love what she is doing to raise the profile & amplify the voices of women in STEM, challenging gender stereotypes through publishing.

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This resonated with #womened, our Why, how we connect & what we stand for.

Fellow #WomenEd co-founder & National Leader, Vivienne Porritt, shared our community #ididitanyway in this tweet:

The #ididitanyway testimonials of personal & professional challenges, change & growth have been inspiring to read. It parallels the #womened pledge to be #10%braver.

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Vivienne posted this blog to capture our journey as a community in the last 2 1/2 years:

https://staffrm.io/@vivienne/1EaQ4zlF2m

This year has been a life changing year for me so here is my #ididitanyway story:

18 months ago I resigned from a toxic school culture.

I was told by my then boss that I was committing ‘career suicide’. In my heart I knew I was, in fact, committing career salvation!

Like with any negative relationship sometimes you just need to ‘rip the bandaid’ off! I have broken up with  bad boyfriends. I have moved away from feckless friends. Why do we stay at schools that are unhealthy and in roles where we stagnate?

I listened to my instincts – I knew I was unhappy. I knew I was in a professionally destructive relationship & I was losing myself.

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I was confident enough to know there are more jobs than teachers & lots of schools out there. I am also a strong believer that life is too short to work somewhere which makes you unhappy, for a leader who does not value you.

So I pulled the rip cord.

I then paused, and I waited for opportunities to come to me. I didn’t listen to the voice telling me to find safety/ security/ stability as I didn’t want to ‘jump from the frying pan into the fire’.

I had coaching from some fantastic #womened role models: I revisited my Why; I articulated my values; I visualised the role, school, culture I needed to find; I wrote down my non-negotiables. I did it my way.

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I did my research – I found a role, applied & was offered the role. I then held the power – I negotiated & got the terms I needed to make the leap. I knew that I needed to start the next chapter as I meant to go on. I was adamant that would be no looking back.

#ididitanyway – I changed trusts, I changed cultures, I changed roles, I changed areas, I changed teams. I changed my destiny.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of the #womened community, without my tribe of fellow women leading in education to lean on.

When friends, family & colleagues ask me why I invest so much of my time & energy in the #womened community & movement this is my explanation.

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We have each others’ backs. We support one another, we fortify our resilience, we nurture our ambition. We are a team with a collective vision, common mission and shared values.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

The impact of #womened on a community of female school leaders.


Currently reading and thinking about:

I have loved reading all of the cross-sector  #ididitanyway tweets showing tenacity despite adversity.


Currently feeling grateful for:

Social media for connecting like-minded people, helping us to find & raise our voice, plus amplify the voice of others.

 

We Are The City: Supporting The Female Pipeline

I was interviewed and profiled this week for We Are the City’s ‘Inspirational Women’.

Their mission: supporting women in their careers/helping firms attract/retain/develop their female talent.

For news/conferences/events/awards/jobs/tech/career resources follow @WATC_updates and check out their website here.

My interview:

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I am very goal orientated and have always had a 3-5 year professional plan. I was advised when I first qualified that the optimum time for my first few roles was 3 years so I could ascertain what sort of position, culture, line manager, context etc I needed to thrive. Career development advice is lacking in teaching and this is one of the reasons why we founded #womened – to support and nurture the leadership pipeline for women in education.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Lots! Mainly navigating being the youngest and the only female on several teams. I had to develop a thick skin and take undue criticism on the chin. I also had to find and use my voice – there is no point sitting at the table if you are not present. I am really candid, I have found that being direct and straight talking helps you to hold your ground.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Know yourself. I have spent a lot of timing being coached, reflecting and discussing who I  am as an educator and as a leader. Knowing my values, being able to articulate them, has helped me to articulate my vision and this has shaped my leadership behaviours. I make all decisions from my core values which are my compass.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I have just recruited a brand new team. I long and short listed based on values. I then created a series of tasks to test each of the values. I also had to think carefully about the team dynamic and succession planning for the future. It was a balancing act. I would love to see more gender and racially blind application processes across the system.

How do you manage your own boss?

I have always led up. I am super-organised so I would lead the calendar of our line management dates/ times. I am a communicator and initiated how we would capture our agenda/ minutes/ work flow. I hold my team, myself and my line manager to account.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I start with a shower and a cup of coffee, I end with a bath and a glass of wine!

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Work on your personal brand  – how do people see you and how do you want to be seen? Make sure people know what you are doing and the impact you are having. Learn to not only celebrate but to share tour successes, big and small, model this with your team. Say yes to opportunities and work out how to do it later. Find the gaps in the structure and offer to lead on projects/ initiatives that will add value. Network internally and externally, after all it is who you know not what you know that opens doors.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I have received a lot of coaching in the last year as I made the transition to Headteacher. I now have a mentor to grow as a professional and a coach to grow as a human. I cannot recommend values based coaching enough. I am also a coach for other women in education who aspire to lead or who are leading but stuck in a rut to help them get that foot up the ladder.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker?

Networking is key. Join twitter and linked in. Go to events and meet your virtual connections in real time. Stay connected and engage in professional dialogue. My #womened tribe inspire and empower me every day.

What does the future hold for you?

I started my Headship in January and will open my first school in September, with a second one opening the year after. I have been asked to become a Trustee and to write a book.  All of this has happened due to coaching and networking so get out there and start connecting.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The dynamic pipeline of leaders I have recruited for Aureus School.
  • The promotions I have heard about in the #womened community.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have not had much chance to read recently but have enjoyed delving through the WATC archive.
  • I have just written a blog for Viv Grant so am thinking how to create a culture of wellbeing for all of my staff but also for all of my leaders with a focus on the female leaders in the pipeline.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • My contacts in the #womened #edtech emerging network who are coming to Aureus for a planning meeting this week.
  • My TSA contacts who are coming to Aureus for a planning meeting after half-term for a Return to Work/ Maternity/ KIT programme.
  • My #wellbeing contacts who I will see at the MHWB teachmeet this week.