We are proud of the culture of flexible working that Malmesbury School already exemplifies. In order to recruit and retain the very best staff, a school needs to be responsive and flexible and responsive to individual needs.
At Malmesbury School 50.4% of our teaching staff are employed parti-time and 42.8% of our Senior Leadership Team.
Here are a few case studies of flexible working at Malmesbury School.
Tim's Case Study & Video
Works 3.5 days per week across all schools in the trust based in the trust office at Sir William Romney’s School Tetbury.
When the trust was initially established I worked as CEO and also headteacher at Malmesbury School. As we grew to four and then five secondary schools it became clear that this was not viable and Malmesbury needed a headteacher exclusively focussed it and the trust needed a separate CEO. As a relatively small trust it was not financially viable to have two full-time posts.
In 2018 I had fulfilled a long time ambition to embark on a doctorate and after a year I felt that in order to do it justice I needed to be able to give it at least a full day per week. I went to the trustees with a proposal that I become the part-time CEO and we appoint an internal acting headteacher at Malmesbury School.
I was delighted that they approved the change and I am confident that it has worked effectively both for Malmesbury and the Athelstan Trust as a whole.
Michelle's Case Study & Video
My appointment to Malmesbury School was a direct result of the school’s forward thinking approach to flexible working. At the time of my initial application, my son was about to start primary school so I was delighted to be able to negotiate a role where I could work four days a week, with an agreement that one two of these days, I would be timetabled in a way that meant that I could drop my son at school and collect him too. The flexibility of approach didn’t end there as, recognising that I was stepping down from a middle leadership role in a different school, I was also offered a role that meant that I could continue to use my middle leadership expertise to work in two schools across The Athelstan Trust, supporting collaboration between the two faculties and ensuring school improvement. This recognition of my experience and opportunity to develop skills in working across schools enabled me, several years later, to apply for an Assistant Headteacher role at Malmesbury School and then, more recently, as one of the Trust lead Practitioners. In both these senior leadership roles, I have continued to have a part time contract with my hours in school spread over 5 days but with the continued flexibility to be at the primary gate several times a week.
Flexible working isn’t always about childcare or even about a longer term lifestyle choice though. I will also be forever grateful for the compassion shown to me when my dad was in palliative care. At this time, torn between wanting to spend as much time as possible with my family but wanted to continue teaching when and where I could, I was offered the flexibility to create a short term, bespoke timetable that worked for me over an enormously difficult time.
Each time I have been supported to have a flexible working agreement, I have felt valued by the school and in turn, my loyalty to the organisation has grown too – and everyone wins from this relationship: students, colleagues, leadership, my own wellbeing and last but not least, my family too.
Flexible Solutions to Family Balance & Career Opportunities
Emma-Jane's Case Study & Video
Having worked at Malmesbury School for several years before having my children, knowing the ethos of the school meant that I was confident to put in a request to work 4 days a week when I returned from maternity leave, realising quickly that working full time would not give me the work-life balance I needed. As Head of a large Faculty the support for flexible working allowed for consistent staffing with colleagues able to change their hours to suit the current phase of their lives; this secured expertise within a cohesive team with a low turnover of staff and leadership opportunities still available for all. I feel fortunate that my next career move was to work in the central team for the Athelstan Trust, still part time, but with the opportunity to request a change to my hours as the needs of my family life change with both my children now at school.
Flexible Solutions to Family Balance & Career Opportunities
Nikki's Case Study & Video
Towards the end of my second maternity leave, I decided that I wanted to decrease my working hours to allow me to spend more time at home. I feel fortunate that I was able to reduce my days from 4 days per week to 3 but, I was even happier that I didn’t have to sacrifice my position within the department as Curriculum Leader for KS4. The solution was to job share the TLR with another member of the department which has worked really well. I feel that working collaboratively has been extremely beneficial for the role, not only to share ideas, but to be able to divide the workload, which has made the job manageable on part-time hours. I feel lucky that I am able to both be at home with my family and feel successful at work.
Job Share Post Parental Leave
Tom's Case Study & Video
Having completed my NQT year at Malmesbury, I was keen to advance in my career and gain a wide range of experience across the school. Sharing the Curriculum Leader role with a colleague allowed me to learn from her experience in the job as well as giving me the time to take on the additional position of Academic Leader for year 8. This flexible working approach has allowed the school to benefit from both of our skillsets as Joint-Curriculum Leaders as well as giving me the academic and pastoral experience I was looking for early in my teaching career.
Job Share as an Early Career Teacher
Jo's Case Study & Video
I am a classic example of the sandwich generation – pushed and pulled by the demands of younger and older dependents. I transitioned into the education sector after giving up my former corporate job to look after my young family. I started by clerking for the governing body in the evenings. As my children grew older, I built up my work time by covering a short term staff absence, a longer term maternity cover and the a part time admin role 4 days a week. I am now the Trust’s Company Secretary and I work 4.5 days by working longer days from Monday to Thursday and some evenings.
My children are now in their twenties but my mother is nearing 90 so having a clear day off a week to support her is really helpful. However, as it doesn’t matter to me which specific day of the week I take off, I can be flexible about attending training or meetings with my other part-time colleagues on a day I wouldn’t normally work if that is the only time meetings can be arranged. It also means I can attend specialist medical appointments with my mother on a day I would normally work and switch my day off that week.
A flexible working arrangement enables me to ‘give my all’ to both my family and my work without feeling guilty that I am doing one at the expense of the other.
Flexible Working Hours
Jennie's Case Study & Video
On my return from maternity leave with my first child I was granted my request to work 4 days a week. This flexibility has enabled me to continue in my role as Assistant Headteacher but also spend time with my growing family. The trust, school and SLT team have been hugely supportive of my part-time working hours and I have not missed out on any opportunity for professional development. In fact, because I have been able to achieve a healthy work-life balance with a day off a week I believe I am a better senior leader as a result. Over the past two years I have written the school timetable and this involves juggling the needs of over 50 part-time staff; as a Maths teacher I thoroughly enjoy this challenging puzzle! At Malmesbury School it is common for teachers to share classes which in itself promotes a culture of collaboration and trust. To date all part time requests have been agreed and staff that need specific days off have had their requests met. I believe that happy students start with happy staff and I am proud of the small part I play in delivering our flexible working offer to allow staff to balance doing a great job at school yet meet their personal commitments too.
Returning to work after my maternity leave, I knew that I wanted to balance my career and new family life. I feel fortunate that Malmesbury were so accommodating of my request to go down to three days a week from a full-time position and also that they were able to agree to my ideal working days of Wednesday to Friday. This meant I could ensure that my son went to our top choice of childcare provision, and I could organise it months in advance of my return to work. Knowing he was going to be in the best hands relieved an enormous amount of stress and worry. Instead, I felt excited about getting back into the classroom and developing my teaching career because I knew I was working for a school where I was a valued member of staff.
Huw's Case Study & Video
As someone who went into teaching with a mind to perhaps switch career after a short time, I find myself not only still teaching after ten years, but having never moved from the only school I have worked at – Malmesbury. This is largely due to the excellent, trust-driven relationships that leadership cultivates with its staff, along with its willingness to acknowledge that every team member is different.
I have always had many other passions that I’ve wanted to pursue and see what career potential they hold: music, photography, cinematography and more. We all know that teaching full-time is an incredibly demanding job, as the job continues long after our young people leave for the day. As I needed more time to dip my toe into other avenues, I approached the then-Headteacher, Tim Gilson, to ask about the possibility of reducing my teaching week to 0.8 FTE; he was very understanding, and approved the request immediately.
Over the course of the next two years, I was able to not only have a better work-life balance, but had the time to develop the Science faculty’s online presence by producing GCSE practical demonstration videos for YouTube – something I had wanted to do for a long time. The Malmesbury Education channel now has over 23,000 subscribers and over 4 million views; the videos have even been used in the Zambian countryside by the charity Schulgenie to educate children who would otherwise have no access to any substantial education.
During this process I was able to build up my media-related skills such that Malmesbury School and other schools in The Athelstan Trust have used me to produce high-quality videos for open evenings, transition days, options evenings and more, which have been invaluable throughout the pandemic. The school’s leadership was eager to see what else I could accomplish in the role and I have been given more time to carry out this work that not only has a positive impact on our students, but young people worldwide.
These achievements have only been made possible by Malmesbury School’s commitment to flexible working. If my initial request had been denied, I would not have been able to use my skills in these areas to aid education; on the contrary, I would almost definitely moved on to other ventures. However, due to the foresight and grace shown by Malmesbury School’s leadership, I am able to use my passions in the most fulfilling way possible, which also allows me to be a more happy and effective teacher in the classroom.
I am a firm believer that when schools are willing for their staff to work flexibly the students, the staff and the school benefit – everyone wins.