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Frances Ashton (@FKAEnglish) reflects on the satisfaction of putting theory into practice and helping shape her school’s ‘Family Friendly’ philosophies.

Since I’ve been back at work, flexible working has been at the forefront of my mind. With the recruitment and retention crisis looming large, schools are competing fiercely for the best candidates for their roles. It seems obvious to me that schools who take wellbeing seriously, manoeuvre themselves into a strong position on the recruitment battlefield.

But even more importantly than this, it shows just how much current staff are valued. Negotiating the balance between personal and professional responsibilities is challenging and ever changing and anything schools can do to create an open dialogue around this is an enormous step forward.

I count myself very lucky that I work in a school that values wellbeing and gives time and consideration to suggestions for how it can be improved. In my time back at school following my maternity leave, two of my major projects have been about just that.

Firstly, I have focused on writing and sharing a ‘Family Friendly Schools’ policy which outlines this exact philosophy. Now ratified by governors, it sits proudly on our Staff Vacancies page for all potential candidates to read. I cannot think of many things more heartening for a prospective candidate than knowing that my potential employer is this committed to wellbeing.

Furthermore our new marking policy is about two things: maximising impact on students and minimising staff workload. Gone are expectations about frequency and references to triple impact marking and in are discussions about structuring high quality directed independent reflection time. Our quality assurance processes have been recalibrated with the policy in mind.

We can always do more, but the steps we have taken this year so far feel like significant leaps forward in creating a positive and manageable work life balance and it has been immensely satisfying being part of it.