Department of Education confirms independent special schools can have full access to its flexible working programme
When the Department of Education announced its flexible working practices in schools programme earlier this year, it was widely welcomed by schools as a way of supporting recruitment and retention of staff as well as the potential for having a positive impact on staff wellbeing.
Whilst non-maintained, academy and free special schools were eligible to participate in the programme, there was uncertainty and suggestions that independent special schools would have limited access to support available from Flexible Working Ambassador Multi-Academy Trusts and Schools (FWAMS).
Since then, NASS has been in discussions with the Department of Education to strongly emphasise the benefits of including independent special schools to ensure learning is shared across all parts of the SEND system.
We are delighted that last week in an email from the Department of Education to NASS, we received confirmation that independent special schools are included and can have full access to support from FWAMS, including 1-1 support on an ad-hoc basis.
NASS’s Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Mari Davis, was able to announce the good news at the 2023 NASS Conference in Birmingham last week:
“We recognise that having full access to the flexible working practices in schools programme will be of benefit to all our member schools. We made strong representation to the Department of Education of the benefits of ensuring that the programme needs to be open to all parts of the education sector in order to have the greatest impact. We are grateful to the Department of Education for listening to NASS and taking positive steps to ensure all parts of the SEND system are supported.”
Confirmation from Department of Education
In an email to NASS, the Department of Education said:
“Independent special schools and independent AP settings are able to access support through the programme as a Participant School receiving 1-1 support from the specialist FWAMS, on an ad-hoc basis by raising a request via the Flexible Working website, or by accessing the national programme of training webinars and toolkit of resources available through the website (www.flexibleworkingineducation.co.uk). The specialist FWAMS for SEND schools is:
Abbey School of Nexus Multi-Academy Trust who can be contacted directly at email@example.com, or via the website above.”
What is FWAMS?
Flexible Working Ambassador Multi-Academy Trusts and Schools (FWAMS) has been appointed by the Department of Education to provide bespoke peer support to school leaders to assist them to establish a culture of flexible working in their schools.
The programme says it will “support school leaders to design flexible roles, adopt a proactive approach and navigate the challenges flexible working can pose in schools.”