Can teaching have the flex appeal?

Comment by CAROLEWILLIS, Chief Executive at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

Ensuring there are enough high- quality teachers in England’s schools is crucial for delivering a first-class education fo people. Pupil numbers

secondary schools and the

recruitment of new teachers into the profession is not keeping up. In the recent TALIS survey, almost 40 per cent of secondary England reported that

a shortage heads in

of teachers was affecting the

quality of instruction in their schools, compared to the OECD average of 21 per cent. Doing more to retain teachers in the state sector is a crucial part of helping to address this challenge. For many teachers, balancing a demanding work environment with their personal lives can be challenging - teachers work around 50 hours a week during term time, and a large proportion say their workload is unmanageable. Our previous re suggested that there is unmet demand for part-time the secondary sector, which drives some teachers to

leave. A lack working in search

of flexible working opportunities is also one of the key barriers facing teachers on career breaks who want to return. If part-time and flexible working was embraced more widely in schools, it may help to alleviate the scale of the teacher supply challenge by improving retention and encouraging more teachers to return. In June 2019, we investigated this further in our new report ‘Part-time Teaching and FlexibleWorking in Secondary Schools’. This research identified the level of unmet demand for part-time and flexible working in secondary schools, provided insights into the barriers and described how some schools with above average proportions of part-time teachers are making it work.While recognising the challenges, the school leaders we interviewed saw several benefits from part-time working among teachers. Many said that allowing staff to work on a part-time basis enabled schools to retain good teachers while improving teachers’ wellbeing and energy at work.

So, what is preventing secondary teachers and leaders from working flexibly?We found that just under a third of the teachers who wanted to work a different work pattern, and could afford to do so, said that they had not made a formal request for part- time working because they suspected their senior leaders would not support it. However, only 14 per cent of teachers reported having had a request for part-time working rejected. This suggests that the perception that school leaders would not support a request for part-time working was a greater deterrent than teachers’ actual experience of having a request turned down.

One of the key messages from this research is that 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. However, the kinds of approaches identified in our report are not a panacea for the challenges facing the teaching workforce. The government needs to continue working with the profession to find ways to make teachers’ workloads more manageable, encouraging more of them to stay and contribute to our young people’s futures.

Why the ‘one tomany’ model is the only answer to our current STEM talent shortage

Comment by FRA

are rising in r young


Head of STEMContent & Expertise at STEMLearning


We have faced a shortage of STEMtalent in the UK for years. The question that’s often asked is why we still face a shortage despite years of positive intervention and millions of pounds of investment.

The answer for me is three-fold. Firstly, our STEMshortage is a complex problem comprised

of multiple issues; secondly, not all efforts are coordinated and sustained and thirdly, many initiatives have focused exclusively on targeting young people without factoring in their key lines of influence – parents and teachers.

So what can we do to ensure that future interventions have more of a lasting and tangible impact?

Our belief at STEMLearning is that we have to ensure that each individual we reach and inspire in person has the influence and skills to inspire many more. Our ENTHUSE Partnerships, enabled through the strategic, practical and financial support of leading UK STEMemployers like GSK, Rolls-Royce and BP, have this multiplier effect at their heart. ENTHUSE Partnerships create powerful alliances of schools that benefit from sustained two-year action plans involving access to enhanced STEM resources, enrichment experiences for students and parents and a rich programme of teacher CPD including hands on STEMwork placements. As a result of involvement, 90%of teachers report an increase in student engagement in STEMsubjects, while 87%report a positive impact on student attainment in STEMsubj


But most powerfully, many of these partnersh groups of five or six schools to powerful alliances

of up to 20 schools ips grow from small

that work collaboratively together for years to promote STEMwithin their schools.

ENTHUSE Partnerships also recognise teachers as powerful career influencers, with the ability to reach many hundreds of students; but often lacking the up to date knowledge to be able to do so with confidence. Working with sector leading organisations, we create work placements for teachers that enable them to meet inspiring ambassadors, keep abreast of industry developments and enhance their understanding of the diverse skill sets required in continually evolving STEMworking environments. Professional development book ending these work placements helps teachers embed their practical experiences into the classroom in ways that spark renewed enthusiasm in students.

As well as helping teachers build a greater understanding of the skills needed and used in today’s leading STEMcommercial organisations, these placements also build tangible and lasting links between schools and STEM sector leaders.

When a teacher from a school near to one of GSK’s sites met and got to know apprentices on her placement, it led to a valuable on-going programme of careers sessions and talks at the school, which have informed hundreds of students about alternative routes into STEMcareers. Finally, coordinated and sustained programmes of intervention have the power to ensure that the talented teachers we are relying on to inform and inspire the problem solvers remain inspired themselves.

The global challenges we face in the future are vast, complex and urgent. Building the talent pool that will help meet those challenges requires solutions that are ambitious in scope, sustained in impact and that reach and empower influencers rather than individuals so that we can engage and inspire the many rather than the few.

www. July/ y/Augus t 2019 rg.ukp kpdf www .education-toda 32

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