Job share success at St Paul's Kempsey

This job share means we can prioritise our young children without sacrificing career opportunities.

A most successful flexible work arrangement (FWA), providing promotion opportunities for two teachers with carer responsibilities, has been in operation at St Paul’s College Kempsey for the past two years.

Principal Kevin Lewis outlined the specifics of the FWA, a Job Share (Leader of Learning/Science) and indicated his enthusiasm for the current arrangement.

“Maria and Amy approached me three years ago leading into the 2016 school year, knowing that the LOL/Science would be stepping down from his role at the end of 2015. They had some concerns over the leadership of the department knowing that there were no full time science teachers in a position to replace him, and that their beloved department may be rudderless if a suitable replacement was not found.

“Whilst there were a number of staff members who taught science, most were either not experienced in leadership, or had other leader roles as pastoral year coordinators or other positions.

“They put a proposal to me that they share the role over the period required and would ensure that the department met all requirements of BOSTES, CSO and other agencies.

“Having seen job share positions work very well in the past (especially those where it was initiated by the two staff members) I was happy to investigate this further. My view is that if you have a productive job share arrangement, you get the benefit of more than the 1.0 FTE they are making up, even (in my mind) as much as 1.2 FTE or more.

“I informed them that under current CSO rules, they would be employed as 1pt coordinators and as such would be required to apply for the 2pt position each subsequent year. They have been happy to do that.

“My view is that it has been a fantastic leadership building opportunity for them both, and each has approached me about issues that needed to be dealt with. I have provided this advice and they have gone away and followed it – growing as leaders each time they were required to do so.

“They work beautifully together as a team and provide great leadership for the faculty. I have great confidence in the job they are doing, and given the opportunity to do this again, I would happily jump at it.”

Maria Littlejohn is more than satisfied with the arrangement and is committed to making it work.

“I think this job share of a promotion position (Leader of Learning/Science) has been a wonderful opportunity and I believe that Amy and I do a great job. This job share means we can prioritise our young children without sacrificing career opportunities.

“We are both hard workers and have excellent communication skills so we are in constant communication with each other and often both work from home. We also have a lot of trust in each other’s decision making which means that when one is not at work, the other can make executive decisions, although on most occasions we consult each other and support each other in this.

“We have also divided up the work load according to our strengths and also seek input from each other on improving our teaching and leadership strategies. We bounce ideas off each other and have made many positive changes to the way the Science department is organised and run. Now that I have job shared the position of Leader of Learning with Amy, I cannot imagine doing the job without her help and support”.

Amy Tovey highlighted her positive experience and said she is thankful for the opportunity afforded by the FWA.

“The possibility to access this flexible arrangement came about when our head teacher of 25 years decided to step down from the leader of learning position. We had both come back to work part time from maternity leave and were job sharing a full time teaching position. Maria and I wondered, half jokingly, if we could apply for the position as a joint coordinator. We both had an aspiration to become a leader of learning at some point in our career but being part time and having young children allowed us to think that the opportunity wasn’t achievable.

“We decided to put in an application to see what would happen. After having an interview and Kevin talking to the CSO about us sharing we were offered the job.

“The position is going great. I love the fact that I can get experience as a leader of learning while only working part time at two days a week. I do have to do some things at home on my days off (what teacher doesn’t) but have the freedom to do it while my kids are napping or having a rest. Maria and I are able to keep up with the position through good communication. I am very thankful to be given this opportunity.”

Mary Murtagh
IEU Rep St Paul’s College Kempsey