Flexible working is available at all levels of the Trust, read a few of the different ways it has benefited some of our colleagues:
Bill Holledge – CEO – Paradigm Trust
At the point that I stepped down from my first headteacher role, I had a three year old son (in addition to two daughters – age five and seven) – and my wife was keen to return to full time work. It was definitely ‘my turn’ to explore some career flexibilities. As a result, I moved to a 4 day working week model – for about a year – to enable me to support my son in terms of his part-time attendance at nursery. A year later, he went into reception full time – which meant that I was able to go back to full time work – albeit with some flexibility provided by my employer to enable me to play a full role in dropping off to local childminder at 730am and picking up at 6pm and generally operating the ‘Dad taxi’ that seems unavoidable at this stage in life. My wife and I have danced to fairly intricate music for the last 15 years in order to balance childcare and family responsibilities with our careers – we seem to have got away with it – my wife is now a full time HMI (Ofsted), having completed a number of part-time headteacher roles and I have the privilege of leading Paradigm. And our children seem relatively well adjusted – they have certainly survived the experience and maybe, just maybe, have thrived along the way.
Charlotte Baker – Assistant Principal and SENCo – Culloden Primary Academy
I first applied for a flexible working arrangement after having my son in 2019. The request I made was to work four days a week, with one of those days consisting of working from home. As an Assistant Principal, I was confident that part of my professional responsibilities could be fulfilled by one day working from home. Now in my role as SENCo and Assistant Principal, working from home has allowed me to have uninterrupted time to complete the paperwork which is a large portion of this role. The flexible working arrangement, in particular working four days, has allowed me to fully be a part of fundamental milestones in my children’s lives like settling them into nursery and now school.
Tahreena Ward – Principal – Culloden Primary Academy
I am currently the interim Principal at Culloden Primary Academy and have supported many staff members with a flexible working arrangement so that they are able to return to work and support their families.
Whilst I was an Assistant Principal I had various FWA. When I returned from maternity leave on both occasions I had an agreed start time of 08.30 to allow me to take my children to nursery (this did involve being very organised and prepared so there was minimal impact to the start of my day). When my children started school, I was able to take my children to school and collect them x1 day per week (later start to my day and earlier finish time). I also worked x1 day from home (post covid school closure time to attend Safeguarding meetings as I was the DSL at this time too). Currently in my role as Principal, I take my children to school and pick them up x1 day per week. All members of my LT have children and they all are able to either take/collect their children x1 day per week from school/nursery.
The various arrangements I had, enabled me to be involved in my children’s schooling and school environment. Due to the roles I have had over the years, I have not been able to attend all school events, however, my children and their school know that either parent will be able to attend an event but we do not compromise on parents evening!
Alison Needham – Teaching Assistant – Woodbridge Road Academy
I feel incredibly lucky to have my Teaching Assistant role at Woodbridge Road Academy due to the flexibility and support in having a young family at home. I am able to take my two primary school aged children to school and also collect them after school.
Another great thing about Paradigm Trust and having children is that I am able to watch school plays and attend sports days and assemblies.
I currently work four days a week and have Fridays off to spend time with my recently widowed father and catch up with life admin without children at home. It offers a great work/life balance.
Frances Murphy – Teacher – Woodbridge Road Academy
My teaching role involves sharing a year 9 form group with Amy, teaching hospitality and catering at key stage 4 as well as food and nutrition and art to key stage 3. It also involves supporting a student with GCSE art coursework. I work 3 days a week. What is fantastic about having my working week split (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays) is that I don’t miss valuable training days and meetings. ‘. Myself and Amy share a day and that helps with communication and sharing any paperwork that is needed for our form students. It also means we can both attend annual reviews and give feedback. It helps working with such a fantastic team at the school where communication between staff is excellent.
Flexible working hours have been fantastic for me personally because I have a busy homelife with a two year old and a six year old. I have struck a lovely balance of still teaching, a career which I love, but also I get to spend time with my son before he starts school. I have found that I am a calmer, happier teacher as the workload is easier to manage. This school year has brought many challenges with it being a brand new school, new staff, new students joining and learning a new curriculum. I feel I have more energy to tackle any challenges head on in a positive mindset and I love coming to school. I personally feel that the students have gained from having two form tutors, they have built up positive relationships with us both and if they have any concerns they have us both available to support them.
Naomi Shenton – Principal – Woodbridge Road Academy
I was an Assistant Principal at Ipswich Academy when my second daughter was born. Whilst on maternity leave I applied for flexible working and I returned to a four day working week. This enabled me to return to a role that I loved whilst also spending more time with my young family.
When I took on the project manager role for Woodbridge Road Academy I had the flexibility to fit this around my work and home life. For a while it worked perfectly for me to do a couple of hours of work in the middle of the day whilst my daughter napped.
I had flexible working arrangements in place for 2.5 years. I found this invaluable for spending time with both my children including settling my eldest daughter into school. I was also able to use this time and flexibility to support my parents at a time when that was needed.
When Woodbridge Road Academy opened and I started as Principal I returned to full time work as this fitted both personally and professionally. However, I think it is important for both me and my team to attend key events in our children’s lives, for example all of us with young children went to their nativity plays in December.
Amy Butler – Teacher – Woodbridge Road Academy
I am employed as a part time teacher at Woodbridge Road Academy, teaching art, photography and computing. I also share a year 9 form group with another part-time teacher of art and our timetables have been planned well to give us both time when we are both in the workplace to communicate with each other and share any information or concerns about our students as well as share good working practice in our subject area.
I began my career working as a full-time teacher and remained so for the first 5 years of my career before my husband and I decided to start a family. Going part-time has given me the opportunity to continue working in a job I love. Paradigm and Naomi Shenton, my principal at Woodbridge Road, have been incredibly supportive of me as a part-time employee. When I made the move here in September I was granted my request to continue working the same days I had in my previous teaching post and this has been so valuable in terms of my existing childcare arrangements, helping me to support my family.
As my youngest is now in the final months before starting school, I find myself with a degree of flexibility and have been able to work occasional extra days when opportunities have arisen. I work in a job I enjoy and it has been great to have the ability to say yes or no to additional days depending on my availability. This also has worked well for our school as staffing consistency is really valuable for our pupils.
With my current part-time post I know I have the balance right and I am able to be both a better parent and better teacher.