Robert was part of our first ever Now Teach cohort and is a champion for flexible working in education.
Case Study for Flexible Working
Prior to teaching, I trained as a chartered accountant and latterly worked in investment banking for large corporate organisations. In financial services, I had some experience with flexible working, but I was not part-time. I would work flexibility which included working from home one day a week. I did this for the last 10 years of my career in the city.
I trained to be a teacher with the 2017 Now Teach cohort. One of the aspects which drew me towards Now Teach was that it was a four day a week programme. My initial teacher training placement was at Ark Bolingbroke Wandsworth and I did not need to negotiate a four day a week programme as Now Teach had already arranged it. It was what suited me and the Principal at Bolingbrooke was always supportive.
Whilst training, I went to Oxted School for my contrasting school experience. I spent two weeks at Oxted School and enjoyed working there. I then applied for an NQT role at Oxted School because it is closer to home.
Right from the outset at Oxted I set out I was looking for a four-day working week. Right from the outset of the application this was my requirement, so this was not necessarily negotiated. The school were open and supportive throughout the process.
I found it hugely beneficial having one day not in school. It worked well as it gave me a day breather. I often spent this time planning, reflecting, recouping as well as pursuing my own interests outside of education. The programme allowed me to spend more time with my family. The day away allowed me to come back in on Wednesday and push for the rest of the week.
By working four days a week I could spend more time with my family, as well as pursue other interests in property and investments. Whilst teaching I was also a trustee of several other organisations. It was important to me to be able to work flexibly in order to fulfil other commitments.
In my experience, I have not seen any issues with split classes or timetabling. I don't believe the pupils have been negatively impacted by the split classes arranged in my school. In contrast, I have found that the split classes have been beneficial due to the different perspectives in the classroom. Timetabling has also been relatively easy to do. It does require some additional thinking on how it could work but the benefit has been enormous. The area I have found challenging is pastoral. I have found as a form tutor you do find it harder to form a relationship with each of your form pupils when you are not in every day. But by having a split form, it does mean that the students get different perspectives, but it does make it harder to fulfil my own expectations of what I want to do with my form.
"The school is very supportive because they can see that by doing four days a week, I can bring much more to the school."