Monday, 5 August 2013

Job sharing in Primary- Making it work.

I have been working as part of a job share now for two and a half years. I’m still finding my feet with it but am writing this in the hope to help others who are thinking about it or starting. At the end of my first full year job sharing I blogged about how it had gone

I have really enjoyed this year- no irony in that statement at all. Even with a large class (35 at times) with the huge pile of marking, extra parent sessions, reports… There is so much in the press about teachers leaving the profession  Working part time for me has been the most positive step I have taken in my teaching career for some time. 

So, what works well in our class? Key has to be the communication. I have read about some teachers who are lucky to have some time each week when they are both in the class. Budgetary constraints don’t allow that at my school, but we do talk.
And talk.
And some more!

 We keep a book (filled two this year) in which we leave copious notes for each other. We talk on the phone at least twice a week. Oh yes, emails too! And the odd text.  Without that level of communication I can’t see how it could work effectively.  All the children and their parents know how regularly we talk about the class and this has helped us to build strong and positive relationships.  In an ideal world we would have one TA in the class who could be a consistent presence, but there are two of them as well! One works Monday and Friday, the other the middle part of the week.

We are very different in our personalities, in our teaching styles, in our interests. But what we share is our passion for teaching, for helping children to achieve their potential, to build their confidence and self esteem, to enable them to believe in themselves and to be proud of themselves, our class, our school.  We work in a school with a really well put together behaviour policy, that helps too.

When it comes to how we plan and deliver the curriculum that has been a constantly evolving process. Some subjects are split between us which works well. Maths and English (I know the terms are Literacy and Numeracy but I have a pet hate for those and insist on calling them maths and English !) Anyway, for the English this year I taught the majority of the genre work while my partner concentrated on the SPaG. This was commented on favourably by the subject leader during the course of the year through lesson observations and book moderation. We made good use of AFL so that areas that came up in my teaching needing reinforcement could be covered discretely and I would have a “zero tolerance” approach for the focus area each week. With the increased emphasis on SPaG we will definitely be carrying on with this next year. Of course there are also lots of opportunities for writing across the curriculum and we follow the Pie Corbett approach to non fiction writing and include all 6 areas each year so these are split between us.

Maths has been much more of a challenge. In the first year of job sharing we started by splitting the curriculum so that I did all the number work and my partner did all the shape,space, measure, data. This worked fairly well but my partner felt that she didn’t have enough knowledge of their ability in number.  We then tried to work as one teacher with one of us leaving plans for the other. It was a nice idea but planning for each other was very time consuming. This year we used the unit plans from the strategy and split the five units between us each term so that over the course of the yer we had both taught everything. This worked fairly well but is not the most consistent way for the children who would be doing one area Mon/Tues and another on Weds-Fri.

How are we going to organise it for this year? Not totally sure at the moment. Progress in maths was less than it was for reading and writing which would indicate that we need to look at how we are planning and teaching the subject. There have been some interesting ideas on twitter about planning the maths (   Having asked the twittersphere’s opinions it seems that the number/everything else split is the most popular…

Why am I blogging about this? Partly to share what has worked well, partly to find out how others are making their job shares work well. It’s a constantly evolving process. Being able to communicate well, trust each other, share similar values are all key points. Most classes have at least one teacher with PPA cover so job sharing is more common than one might initially think. Having someone who knows the children as well as you is a real bonus.  

Challenge for next year is to get on top of the maths and be as effective as we possibly  can. Anyone who has any tips to share please do so. 


  1. Hi, I am a fairly new teacher I have been qualified for 5 years and I have recently been offered a temporary promotion which means I know have to job share my class so another teacher can cover my class while I do my management role. I really like the other teacher but she is retiring next year and has not taught in the upper school in the last 8 years. I do not want to appear too pushy but I do feel it is important that we are both clear on what areas we will both be covering and that we both communicate regularly to share information. This is the first time I have shared a class and I have been in upper school for the last 4 years - I'm finding it really tough handing over reponsibility and giving up some of the lessons and material I have tried and tested in previous years.... Help! (please any advice would be great!)

    Steph x

    1. Hi Steph,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Firstly, well done on the promotion!
      Secondly, try not to worry...job shares are centered on communication and shared vision. Once you've established what you're both doing, trust your partner to do it. It dies take a while, but the freedom that comes from teaching fewer days will make other aspects of the job/life easier.
      You've been the class teacher , so there will be, particularly in the first year of sharing, things that you have established and will be keen to continue , but always stay open to change and new ideas.
      Without being flippant I have learnt to , "Let it go" and have become a better teacher as a result.
      A communication book in which issues/parent meets are noted above is a must for me but needn't become onerous and texting/email/phone can work as well.
      Good luck! I'm sure it will work well, be patient and don't try to fit five days into fewer ( it took me a while to get it very that hurdle!)

  2. Hi Anna,

    I'm about to embark on a Year 5 job share in September with a teacher I have yet to meet and hence wondered if you could please update on how you are getting on and what your current subject split is.
    Any more tips and help would be much appreciated!

    Many thanks,

  3. Hi Amit
    Thanks for your comment. I've been so busy with the teaching that I hadn't updated so thanks for reminding. I now teach year 6 , I changed job share partner as the previous left. It's gone from strength to strength. We have shared beliefs and are both organised. We found the book became time consuming so texting is favoured method. We share news on the class and keep planning on joint file. Maths mastery has been brilliant and we split the maths better to ensure coverage. Lots of chat helps here. I still do most of the writing whilst she does spag. Works very well. Year six is highly pressured and a job share certainly helps. I do the math and read papers and she does spag.
    As long as the trust and communication is there it can work really well. For me it makes the job manageable X

  4. Sorry, Ami. Perils of using a phone!! Do let me know if there's anything else you want to ask