Hayley Dunn, @ShropshireSBM, a School Business Manager recounts her own experience balancing an SLT role and parenting, and offers tips for schools wanting to foster a more family friendly culture.
My husband and I work well as a team to balance the obligations that we have to our employers and our two children. We both have full time senior level positions and also both do our fair share of parenting. But, of course there are times when it gets a bit tricky, and someone or something has to compromise.
I am fortunate to be a Senior Leader within an organisation that understands the importance of life work balance and promotes a wellbeing culture, but recently I had a dilemma…
It was a day of the week that my husband usually collects our children, but he was away for an important work event, so I needed to collect them. Not a problem. Except that we had a planned informal Senior Leadership Team Meeting offsite and if I attended I wouldn’t be able to pick up both of our children on time. So, because I knew it was important for me to attend the meeting, I spoke to my Headteacher and he was understanding. After a quick discussion we agreed it was fine for me to collect my youngest on the way and to bring her with me; which meant I could attend the meeting and be on time to pick my eldest child up after the meeting.
It didn’t cause a problem at all. No-one blinked an eyelid. Colleagues made lovely comments about how well behaved she was #proudmummy moment.
Schools with family friendly cultures and policies, make it easier for their employees to more easily balance work and life; in order to fulfil their obligations.
Allowing me to take my child to a meeting may only seem like a small allowance to make, but it meant a lot to me. I was able to attend and be part of the meeting; whilst also being able to fulfil my duties as a parent. It is allowances like this that make me a loyal employee. Goodwill with most people will be repaid through dedication, loyalty and staff who go the extra mile.
I have had more judgemental comments than I expected about continuing to be full time working mum. Funny that my husband hasn’t any similar comments!
Like many I am dedicated parent, but I also get great satisfaction from working and developing my career. I have put a lot of time, effort and dedication to achieve my qualifications and to progress to a Senior Leadership role.
How many great professionals have left working in the education sector because they found that it wasn’t family friendly or conducive to a healthy life work balance? What if we were better a supporting working parents/carers?
It is widely recognised that family friendly policies boost morale, along with improving productivity and commitment. It can also play a key role in attracting and retaining talented individuals. All part of creating and maintaining a positive brand.
Are your SLT approachable? How would you react if a member of your team asked to bring their child to a meeting?
- Flexible working – which can come in various forms. Consider reasonable adjustment to duties, working patterns…
- Job sharing
- Secondment opportunities
- Temporary or permanent change to part time hours
- Flexi time
- Working offsite i.e. working from home
- Annual hours
- Maternity, paternity, adoption & parental leave
- Utilise Keeping In Touch (KIT) days for important events, training opportunities
- Discretionary paid leave e.g. Hospital appts
- Access to support services: counselling, occupational health, mini health checks, flu immunisations
- Emergency leave
- Childcare – childcare vouchers, crèche facility
- Encourage healthy lifestyles: Cycle2Work scheme, fruity Friday, wellbeing
- Family orientated events – host an annual family picnic
- Family orientated environment – welcome staff who’ve recently had a baby to come in for a visit
- Training – stress awareness, mentoring, coaching, effective CPD & performance management, induction programme, staff handbook
- Wellbeing or work life balance policy