Flexible working hours are needed to ensure women are represented in Leadership

The Education Secretary Damian Green’s initiative to boost teacher recruitment and retention rightly received a cautious welcome from commentators and education professionals alike. Fiona Millar, journalist and a co-founder of the Local Schools Network writes in Teachwire.

The proposals, which range from financial incentives to remain in the profession to support for teachers early in their career may have been a long time coming, but look promising.

Recalibrating accountability would be a bold and dramatic way to address workload and chronic teacher supply issues areas where schools struggle to get recruit and retain staff – but much more detail is needed before we can assume that the impact of three decades of high-stakes testing can evaporate in a puff of smoke.

The gender gap

However, the part of the Hinds proposal that really resonated with me was the recognition that a significant part of the retention problem is down to women leaving the profession at a certain point in their careers, often citing parenthood and work/life balance responsibilities.

Over two fifths of women in employment work part-time compared to 13% of men. Two and a half million women in the UK are economically inactive and 89% of these can’t work due to caring responsibilities.

So Hinds’ proposal to encourage more flexible working and matchmaking services for teachers who want a job share is welcome, but doesn’t address a second inconvenient truth, which is that women who give up full-time work usually sacrifice the chance of promotion as most leadership and management roles are full time.

Indeed the DFE press release even states that women returners who want to “remain in the classroom” will have the option to be channeled into what the DFE press release states are “non leadership career routes”.

And the figures are no better in secondary education where 64% of teachers are women, yet 62% of head teachers are men.

So by all means try and keep women teachers in the profession – but in a way that also allows them to progress up the ladder.

Read the full article Flexible working hours are needed to ensure women are represented in Leadership

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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