Flexible working could help solve teacher shortage, think tank argues

The BBC is reporting suggestions from a think tank that schools should embrace flexible working to tackle the teacher supply crisis.

…Flexible working could bring thousands of teachers back into the profession, argues the Policy Exchange paper…

Schools face a dual threat posed by funding cuts and severe teacher shortages, ASCL’s annual conference will hear. 

“These problems are so acute that there is a serious danger we will not be able to maintain current standards, let alone raise them further,” union president Alan Foulds will warn in a speech. 

The report, written in conjunction with ASCL, explores teacher recruitment and supply in a series of essays. 

Policy Exchange’s head of education, Jonathan Simons, points out that of 45,000 to 50,000 teachers joining the state sector each year, “around a third are actually returners”. 

Mr Simons says official figures suggest more than a quarter of the teachers of working age who left the profession between 2008 and 2012 were women aged 30 to 39 – some 6,000 a year. 

“The most obvious conclusion to be drawn here is that this is maternity related,” writes Mr Simons. 

Of those who quit the labour force completely, perhaps to look after family, only about half return to the classroom, he points out. 

Mr Simons says the answer, both to attracting mothers back into classrooms and to the issue of burnout for both male and female teachers, could be flexible working in the form of part-time work or managing timetables to fit in with caring responsibilities. 

“Schools and the government both need to recognise the need for flexibility, and that flexible working means more than just working part-time,” he said. 

“In particular, we know that younger graduates tend to want portfolio careers which enable them to come in and out of professions, and teaching is no different. 

“Our education system needs to embrace a new way of working.

“If it doesn’t, schools are going to continue to struggle to attract and retain the best talent.”

An ASCL spokeswoman called the suggestion “eminently sensible”…

More at: Flexible working could help solve teacher shortage, think tank argues


Read or download the full collection of essays (see p15 for the argument in favour of flexibility):

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/PEXJ4268_Importance_of_teachers_A5_booklet_03.16_WEB.pdf”]


Has Jonathan Simons and Policy Exchange hit on a crucial point here: would flexibility encourage more teachers to stay in the profession or return after a career break, perhaps for maternity?

Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…


Would flexible working options help boost teacher retention?

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Categories: Policy and Teaching.


  1. Maruta_Wataru

    SchoolsImprove *YAWN* It won’t make any difference whatsoever. It isn’t just the flexibility – it’s the workload full stop.

  2. Junaid88_R

    SchoolsImprove if the policy makers are not teachers than they’ll never come out with a productive solutions

Let us know what you think...