Public sector workers should not have to trade job status for flexibility following maternity leave

Before beginning my first maternity leave, I was teaching science in a comprehensive school in Newport. I had covered a head of department maternity leave very successfully and whilst pregnant had been given the role of KS3 science coordinator. Whilst on maternity leave I decided that I didnt want to return to work full time, and after requesting a job share position in writing, I visited the school to discuss how this could work. I was grateful that the school was receptive to my request and accepted that it hinged on finding a suitable job share. It was never discussed explicitly but just assumed, that having chosen to become part time, I would have to give up my management position. Furthermore when I returned to work my head of department was on maternity leave again, and the maternity cover was given to a junior member of staff who I had mentored as an NQT the previous year. Whilst I found it difficult to find myself a junior member of the department once more, it was impressed on me that I should be grateful that my request for flexible working had been met. This was also the attitude when it was decided that A level and GCSE classes were too important to be taught by a part time member of staff. Despite being qualified to PhD level, returning superb GCSE & A level results year after year, coordinating GCSE  coursework for the department and working as a marker for OCR A level papers, I found myself teaching only KS3 and BTEC. In many ways, I enjoyed this work, but from the school’s point of view it was wasting its investment in my training and CPD as I became more distant from the areas that I excelled at. After a few years of working in this way I took voluntary redundancy and am unsure whether I will return to the profession. 

Why the contribution is important

With investigations into the problem of retaining teachers being commissioned, it seems clear to me that retaining staff following maternity leave is vitally important. Demonstrating to staff that they are valued is crucial in a profession that is being constantly battered financially and in the media. It is a huge investment to train a teacher, taking into account the expense and time that colleagues put in through ITT, NQT, EPD & CPD. It is foolish to abandon this so freely because a person would like to work flexibly. Clearly timetabling makes accommodating flexible working difficult, but schools need to think innovatively to utilise the skills of those requesting flexibility appropriately.

by Helenteacher on March 15, 2018 at 02:31PM

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