Tell us about the flexible working arrangements you have in place at your school:
My role within the school involves me travelling to local mainstream schools to assess and work with children who are at risk of exclusion. I have responsibility for 34 schools that are based within a twenty-mile radius of Perryfields, supporting teachers and other staff to implement behaviour and relationships strategies. I have further responsibilities in organising the transition for pupils from my schools to Perryfields if a six-week Personal Intervention Programme is deemed appropriate.
My contract is for 21 hours per week during which time I manage the workload in terms of visits to schools, report writing and school-based work, whilst reporting to the headteacher as my line manager. He has been very supportive of my request for flexible work that I need to care for my disabled daughter. She has many medical appointments and hydrotherapy sessions to attend and it is vital that I have the time and capacity to organise these and go with her. The headteacher has enabled flexible working to help me with the situation and so long as I work the allotted contract hours over time and fulfil my duties to a good standard he is happy for it to continue.
How are flexible working requests managed?
Flexible working requests at Perryfields are managed in the main by the headteacher, although he seeks approval at the Management Committee level. We had a discussion during which I communicated my request and at the time, a written plan was developed. Since then we have developed and adopted a flexible Working Policy, where requests are completed in a specific template.
The headteacher was very open to the idea and extremely supportive. He assured me that I had his trust and that regular communication was important so that I could meet the expectations of school and at home. His confidence, respect and gratitude for my efficiency within the job was reassuring and he convinced me that as a valuable member of the team he would do what was needed to aid my wellbeing.
What are the benefits you?
I feel that flexible working has helped me enormously feeling that I can manage work and personal commitments. The ability to arrange appointments without having the worry in terms of being absent from work is very reassuring. It has enabled me to feel that I am prioritising supporting my daughter which is comforting and I know I am not missing out on important events in her life.
Furthermore, I am able to organise myself effectively and achieve a work-life balance. I am able to find time for hobbies, interests and any mental health self-care strategies due to having flexibility in the working day. I feel that my productivity is subsequently much higher as I have more energy and set myself strict time limits to achieve what needs ding at work.
To be given the opportunity to be a flexible worker by the headteacher confirmed that he has respect and appreciates my skills and commitment to the role. To recognise and understand that he is willing to accommodate my needs despite some potential challenges for the school shows me that he wants to keep me as part of the team.
How have your flexible working needs changed throughout your career?
After the birth of my daughter, I cared for her in her younger years, relinquishing my previous job. Caring for her and meeting other families it inspired me to retrain and gain qualifications in the area of Specilas needs. With caring support and family, I was able to take up the role of teaching assistant on a part-time basis before my daughter got older returning to full-time work. Due to complications with her health, my current situation is that she has to attend more appointments than previously.
Advice for others considering flexible working requests:
The first piece of advice is to read the policy carefully before making an application and going through the procedure. There is also consideration regarding whether the application is being made due to work-life balance or wellbeing and whether there are any simple solutions to reducing workload or time commitments. As a school, we are mindful of the stresses placed on staff and wish to remove any unnecessary tasks that may be leading to time management being an issue. The overriding need is for communication and working in partnership with school leaders to find effective solutions that suit both parties.