Key Voices #101 – ‘Let’s talk about Flex’ with Emma Turner

“The pandemic has shone so many lights on possibilities for how we could really harness flexible working. Historically, the infrastructure and organisational structures that we had within education were so deeply ingrained, that nobody dared challenge them… It’s thrown everything up into the air and has said, there is no aspect of our work... that we can’t explore doing in a different way.”

This week we talk to Emma Turner, author and Research & CPD Lead, about her book Let’s talk about Flex.  We hear about Emma’s experiences of working flexibly and how schools can benefit from offering their staff opportunities to work differently. We also bust some common myths along the way.  We consider how remote learning during the pandemic could actually accelerate the adoption of flexible working in education, a sector that still lags behind others when it comes to the number of people accessing flexible working. 

We talk about: 
  • The different ways in which Emma has worked flexibly during her career
  • What flexible working actually means including part-time, job share, staggered hours, compressed hours, working from home 
  • The fact that, after retirees, the biggest group of people leaving the teaching profession are experienced, female teachers  aged 31-40 often this is because of a lack of flexible working options 
  • Whether schools could be missing out on a diverse range of talent if they only employ people who can work a full 5-day week 
  • How a culture with a low level of professional trust is a barrier to innovative flexible working opportunities 
  • The wealth of data and experience that shows that flexible working works and the lack of evidence that it doesn’t (see links below) 
  • Why we need to stop viewing flexible working as something negative that teachers and school leaders should apologise for doing 
  • How to bust myths, convince the sceptics and fully embrace the different kinds of career paths offered by working in a different way, including Emma’s “ patchwork flexibility” approach


As mentioned by Emma, you can find a range of data and case studies via the following organisations: Flexible Teacher Talent,  MaternityTeacher PaternityTeacher Project,  Chartered College of Teaching 

“A healthy happy staff are much better teachers, it is about looking at your culture and your ingrained systems rather than thinking “if we implement this new shiny approach to doing something this will solve it all” no it is actually: What do our staff need? What would benefit them? What can we tweak and offer?”

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