The NASUWT has issued advice to members setting out their rights with regard to flexible working, following research which shows that too many schools are still resistant to flexible working, specifically part-time working and job share, according to analysis of figures from the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK.

3,000 cases of teachers requesting flexible working were analysed by the NASUWT, and nearly a third of these requests were turned down.

For teachers in leadership positions, or with additional responsibilities, nearly all requests were denied.

Some of those who requested flexible working were told that it would mean giving up any promoted post they held. Others were advised that working part-time showed a lack of dedication and commitment to the school and the pupils.

Other reasons for rejection included:

  • “It would be too costly”;

  • “It would have a detrimental effect on their performance and standards of education”;

  • “All the job shares have already been allocated”( implying some sort of artificial quota system);

  • “It’s not convenient”;

  • “It will confuse the children”.

90% of the requests analysed by the NASUWT were from women teachers, who make up nearly three quarters of teachers. In primary schools 85% of teachers are women.

Despite this, currently only one in four women teachers work part-time, compared to nearly half of women in the general workforce nationally.

Commenting on the Union’s research, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“It is clear that too many teachers are being denied their rights to flexible working. Spurious arguments, feeble excuses and blatant discrimination are being used to turn down requests.

“Even when teachers are granted flexibility, there are countless cases where unfairness and exploitation flourishes, with many teachers still expected to undertake work related activities on days they are not supposed to be working, invariably without payment.

“The Secretary of State Justine Greening recently said that wants to draw more teachers back into the profession by creating more part-time roles to attract teachers back who had left the profession to have families.

“This is a laudable ambition, but unless the Secretary of State takes action to drive cultural change in schools, including by reviewing the extensive freedoms, flexibilities and discretions schools have been given which are enabling discriminatory and unfair practices to flourish, there will be no change and the teacher recruitment and retention crisis will continue to deepen.”

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