Case Studies

Amelie Thompson, Co Headteacher - 'Flexible working in Senior Leadership'

Tell us about your flexible working arrangements: 

I work 0.8FTE but spread the time over 5 days so that on two days a week, I am able to take my children to school and collect them from school and be available 2 days a week after school. This has advantages for my family but also ensures greater availability at times within the actual school day at work. 

Advice for other leaders considering flexible working requests: 

Consider thinking differently about part-time working - it doesn't just need to be about how many days but how you configure your days. Be transparent and share with everyone the flexible working arrangement and how it benefits the organisation through the way that it is configured. 

How do we make flexible working normalised? 

By being open to dialogue and honest about the challenges; by being transparent about discretionary decisions and the context and reasoning behind them whilst respecting confidentiality. By talking about the benefits of flexible working to the organisation. Ensuring there is an openness to flexible working is not restricted to certain roles or for certain reasons. 

What aspects of part-time working/ flexible working are not practical for schools? 

Consistency is essential in schools and the ability to be able to respond to certain more sensitive situations 'in the moment'. This for me is the biggest barrier to its successful implementation but also the reason for thinking more creatively about how we conceptualise flexible working. 

How do we protect part-time leaders to ensure the workload is manageable? 

Clear roles and responsibilities; a distributed approach to leadership with clear systems and processes for information-sharing so that it is less dependent on the presence of a particular person. 

Until workload is tackled is flexible working unsuitable? Do we need to tackle to workload problem first? 

For me the two go hand in hand. Conceptualising opportunities for flexible working also allows us to reflect on and evaluate key issues that impact workload - how do we ensure that we are using our time on the activities that actually have an impact. As leaders with flexible working arrangements, it is also essential that we use this as an opportunity to reflect on our role in enabling working environments where work-life balance is achievable. It is not about delegating responsibility but really reflecting on how we work collaboratively across the system to achieve the best educational provision for our learners in a way that is sustainable for all. 

How do you measure success as a flexible working leader? 

For me it is about whether I am able to fulfil my role successfully as a leader and balance this against being present and available to my children and so that the navigation of their school week is not impacted by mine. 

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