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I'm beginning to think that job sharing for teachers doesn't work very well in primary school

(217 Posts)
flashharriet Thu 24-Sep-09 10:48:28

I have 3 children and each of them have had years with job sharing teachers and years with just one class teacher. Having read many education threads on MN over the years, I know how hard it is for teachers with young children to juggle the needs of their own children with the needs of the children they teach and so a lot will opt for part time. But having just looked back at my children's time in primary school to date, I've realised that without exception, their "duffest" years have been those years when they've been taught by job sharers.

I'm now wondering whether part-timers would be better suited to secondary schools where pupils are used to moving around and having a number of different teachers anyway; certainly I had two different teachers each year for English, for example, and it didn't present any problems AFAI can remember. Communication is much harder with job-sharing teachers and IME consistency between job sharers seems to be an issue too.

I'd love it if we could have a good discussion about this and have therefore deliberately not posted in AIBU! But I'd be interested whether others have found this too (posting this thread was prompted by reading Greeny's current thread about trying to deal with two job-sharing teachers) or whether we've just been very unlucky.

Greensleeves Thu 24-Sep-09 11:01:18

Unsurprisingly, I think it's awful. Not just because of my ds1's current situation (although that is a good illustration of why it doesn't work IMO) but also from my own and others' experiences. I think it just is not possible to have the kind of cohesive and holistic approach that primary children need when two teachers are swapping over during the week. Inevitably the children's security and IMO the quality of their experience suffers.

My "duffest" years in primary school were job-shares too. And ds1 had a split year in reception - teacher went on maternity leave and supply teacher came in - that was difficult too. I think a primary class needs one teacher who can get to know the children properly and create a stable environment for the children.

thedollshouse Thu 24-Sep-09 11:04:05

I agree. I don't think it worked well with ds in reception. Ds's school report didn't tally with the comments that were made at parents evening, I suspect it was the other half of the job share who wrote the report.

islandofsodor Thu 24-Sep-09 11:05:52

Dd was absolutely fine last year in Year 2. Her job share was more due to the fact that on of her teachers was Head of Infants and had other duties.

Elk Thu 24-Sep-09 11:06:03

My dd1 had a job share teacher in Reception, one teacher for 4 days and a different one for Fridays. It seemed to work really well for her and the others in her class. It is really down to how the two teachers get on and whether they communicate well enough. The Friday teacher has stayed in the school and is now dd2's nursery teacher. This was a long standing arrangement as the main teacher has not worked full time since her children started school (20 years ago).

The school now has a job share in year 1 (old reception teacher and old year 1 half the week each). It is early days yet to see how that works but they have been teaching in the same school for yonks so I see no reason why it shouldn't.

FarkinBarkin Thu 24-Sep-09 11:06:06

My ds had two job-sharing teachers when he was in Reception. I must admit that I wasn't all that hopeful about it but it actually worked out well. It helped that the teachers communicated well with each other and always knew what the other was doing.

I would've said that the worst years for my children have been when they were in mixed year groups but so far this year's mixed class seems to be going well.

So much seems to depend on the individuals involved IMO.

policywonk Thu 24-Sep-09 11:06:32

I agree (without enthusiasm, as I'm all for flexible working patterns). We have one job-share in our Reception year, and none of the parents in that class are happy about it (and this is a jobshare that works very well, with two teachers who are close friends and communicate a great deal).

A big problem is that most of the kids prefer one teacher to the other, so on the days that their favourite isn't there they get upset.

MintyCane Thu 24-Sep-09 11:07:16

I agree it doesn't work well at all.

haggisaggis Thu 24-Sep-09 11:09:05

Nah - don't necessarily agree. ds's first 3 years were - P1 job share, P2 1 teacher, P3 class teacher, P4 job share.
P1 - not too good - it was the head teacher and head teacher support teaching him and the ht was getting totally stressed with the head teacher role and so her teaching was deteriorating. THere was though adequate communiaction between the 2 teachers.
P2 - class teacher (propationer) she didn't ahve much clue so not a good year.
P3 - class teacher - new appointment to teh school coverinmg mat. leave - again not good
P4 - job share - 2 very experienced teachers who communiacted well together. ds learnt more in this year than he did in the other 3. They also spotted that dd (who started P1 the same year - it was acomposite P1-P4 class) had learning problems and arranged excellent support.
So - rather long winded - but IMO a job share CAN work. It (as usual) comes down to the indivisuals involved.

flashharriet Thu 24-Sep-09 11:18:19

It's interesting that some others agree (and totally agree with Policywonk's point about being all for flexible working patterns usually). Certainly those job shares that seemed to have worked better are those between older, more experienced teachers (and quite often they're in the school anyway on the days that they're not teaching their class IYKWIM).

I feel really disloyal thinking these thoughts - I'm all for flexible working, job sharing, maternity leave etc. etc. usually. But in my mind, what's good for the teacher and her own family doesn't seem to be the case for those children being taught. Maybe our school is particularly bad for it but we have so many job shares, so mych disruption due to teachers going off on maternity leave and there would be virtually no extra curricular stuff if it wasn't for two older (female) teachers and our one male teacher who between them, run nearly everything.

I feel really torn.

itsbeingsocheerful Thu 24-Sep-09 11:20:09

I'm with Haggisaggis - it's all down to the individuals.

My DS had job share teachers last year, Y3, and came on leaps and bounds - he went from struggling and hating to read in September to devouring the early Harry Potters in July.

They also turned his negative competitiveness in any sporting environment into a positive. I have nothing but praise for them.

But I can also see that without the proper communication etc it could be a disaster

OnceWasMummyPig Thu 24-Sep-09 11:22:32

Agree with haggisaggis. It all comes down to the teachers - and possibly also to how much 'handover' time is scheduled in by the school.

My ds1's best year at school was when he had one teacher doing 4 days and another doing 1 day. The main teacher was wonderful and he came on in leaps and bounds. Not sure how it would have worked if it had been split 3days/2days.

I also remember my sister having a jobshare in the equivalent of yr5 and it was wonderful, as if both teachers were putting in far more than .6 or .4 of the time.

Ds2 is in a jobshare class at the moment. We'll have to see how it goes but I do recall the teacher saying they have a handover afternoon scheduled in every week. So far I have been very happy with them passing information between each other.

Now supply teachers are another issue, but again I feel it comes down to the teachers involved and the way the school handles it. I feel my worst year in school was the equiv of Yr6 when our class teacher left half way through and we had a long-term supply teacher who I just didn't respect. I used to walk out of the lessons and sit in the library and he did nothing about it. But in retrospect maybe that was more down to me having outgrown junior school.

GrapefruitMoon Thu 24-Sep-09 11:23:09

On a similar vein, I also think that a teacher exercising her right to return from maternity leave say at Easter or the summer half term (thus ensuring she gets paid over the holidays) is not totally fair on the children who have had another teacher for the rest of the year.....

policywonk Thu 24-Sep-09 11:23:26

I think it's quite flatly a bad idea in Reception, when so many children are struggling to come to terms with going to school at all; continuity is so important.

Older children probably cope with it better, so long as the relationship between the two teachers is good. DS1 (Y2) has a job share this year and he seems completely happy with it so far.

But yes, it does seem to raise some uncomfortable questions about the consequences of lots of flexible working and maternity leave. Primary schools are such hotbeds of childbearing-age women.

fluffles Thu 24-Sep-09 11:23:41

what can you do though? you can't refuse to employ younger females in teaching roles - that's almost the whole primary nqt intake!

the post would be more helpful if it was about HOW to make jobsharing work for the children in the class as the alternative to allowing jobsharing is for all women of childbearing age to leave the profession for what 5? 7? years.

flashharriet Thu 24-Sep-09 11:25:40

fluffles, I'm all for thinking about good solutions but my initial post was to find out whether IABU or not!

flashharriet Thu 24-Sep-09 11:31:58

"But yes, it does seem to raise some uncomfortable questions about the consequences of lots of flexible working and maternity leave. Primary schools are such hotbeds of childbearing-age women. "

That's it completely PW - I feel really uncomfortable even thinking these things but I'm dealing with the fall-out on a daily basis.

policywonk Thu 24-Sep-09 11:32:13

fluffles, I absolutely agree - it would be great to come up with some solutions.

abra1d Thu 24-Sep-09 11:33:57

This hasn't been my experience--both mine had two years of job-sharing and they actually quite enjoyed it. Ours was quite a small school though, which may have made it easier.

policywonk Thu 24-Sep-09 11:33:59

harriet, have you made your feelings known to the school? Sounds as though you should canvass opinion among the other parents and go to the governors with it, if lots of people are unhappy. It might be that your school needs to get a lot better at ensuring good communication?

ingles2 Thu 24-Sep-09 11:34:15

I'm not sure it works.
Infact ds2 had the worst case scenario last yr in Yr3 and it was just dreadful.
He had a 3/2 split with the Deputy and a teacher who then unfortunately was long term sick.
Over the course of the year I think they had 7 different teachers on a rolling basis. They never knew who was teaching them from day to day, continuity was appalling and for my son, who has some SN, it was a disaster.
I am very relieved he's not in the jobshare class this year.

DillyTantay Thu 24-Sep-09 11:35:15

INt4eresting how we dont like job sharing in year 6

but EXPECT it in year 7 wink

flashharriet Thu 24-Sep-09 11:35:23

Ok, I've got some paper and a pen...

Well, I suppose my first thought, as in my original post, was to encourage job-sharers into secondary teaching rather than primary. OR identify those years in primary where the effect seems to be least?

Elk Thu 24-Sep-09 11:35:53

I wonder if one of the reasons it seems to work in my dd's school is because it is small. There are 100 children between 3 and 11 and so everybody knows everybody else. If one teacher is off then they are easily covered by swapping teachers/headteachers/ta's so there are very rarely any supply staff.

flashharriet Thu 24-Sep-09 11:38:25

Maybe our school has the worst of all scenarios:

- lots of job sharers/maternity leave
- split year classes
- streaming for maths and english

So potentially, one child could be taught by 6 different teachers in a week (and that's before you count music and RE). That just seems a lot for any primary child to copy with, let alone one who is 5 or 6 in Y1.

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