More flexible working would help recruitment crisis

The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) is calling for a “more holistic discussion on flexible working” as its latest survey shows that 89% of ITT providers think that greater opportunities for flexible working would attract more applicants to the sector.
Last week the Department for Education announced Flexible Working Ambassador Multi-Academy Trusts and Schools (FWAMS) to support school leaders in implementing and embedding flexible working in their schools. Interested schools and trusts can also seek free access live webinars, workshops, on-demand training and resources via a dedicated website set up to “increase awareness of the benefits of flexible working and the full range of flexible working practices available, which can include part-time working, job sharing, home or remote working, phased retirement and personal/family day”.
In research undertaken by NASBTT in May and June 2023, 53.5% of ITT providers said they do not currently offer flexible working opportunities for trainees. However, as part of their strategic planning, 46.5% of providers are considering flexible working opportunities to applicants.
When asked if potential applications discuss the importance of working flexibly as something that is important to them, only a third said ‘yes’. But 75 out of 84 respondents think that greater opportunities for flexible working would attract more applicants. Providers also reported that only half of schools in wider ITT partnerships currently offer flexible working for their staff.
The most common examples given of flexible working being offered or considered by ITT providers are online or blended delivery of core training, including asynchronous options; time built into courses for study/admin and/or wellbeing; and part-time or flexible courses. For schools in their wider ITT partnership, PPA at home (31 responses) was by far the highest example given by ITT providers of flexible working offered.
Emma Hollis, Executive Director of NASBTT emphasised that a “bigger conversation” was urgently needed on how flexible working may help make the profession more attractive given how much teaching appears to be behind other professions.