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It feels impossible to be a part-time mum in teaching

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Sonny73, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Sonny73

    Sonny73 New commenter

    I’m looking for the experiences of teachers going part time after having children. I’m a secondary English teacher and have been trying desperately hard to stay in teaching after I had my daughter. I’ve worked in two schools in three years on a part time contracts and have found the experience soul destroying. I’ve been given the worst classes, felt completely undervalued, and I’m currently being pushed out of the second school as they only want ‘full time staff’. Throughout my time at my current school I’ve worked really hard to ‘sell myself’. I’ve had outstanding observations with some of the toughest classes in the school and even gone through interview processes for tlr posts. I’m not applying for another teaching role because I feel broken- it’s Easter next week and the school are not making my contract permanent. They’re advertising for full time staff. I’m looking at jobs with the local council which will halve my income because I don’t know what else to do. I believe I’m a really good, hardworking teacher- but I’m not recognised as such by schools. Despite the fact I have a young child, I’ve been adamant that my performance during work matches that of my colleagues. There are no concerns with my professional performance. I’ve been teaching for ten years. Has anyone else had similar experiences? Are you still in teaching? Did you return after your children were in school?
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You're part-time. it's a nuisance for them. Rotas. And coordinating it. And more administrative work for HR/payroll to do. More trouble all round. That's more costly. Etc etc etc. They can do without it. They've made it plain: we want full-time teachers.

    It's nothing to do with you. Nothing to do with your ability. Nothing to do with motherhood. It's the same for all part-timers in some schools.

    I'm afraid you have to find a workplace that doesn't discriminate against part-time staff. I sympathise with your plight and wanting to vent your exasperation but that's all you can do. Go elsewhere. I'm so sorry.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. Sonny73

    Sonny73 New commenter

    I don’t feel I have the motivation to start at the new school all over again. Having tried to succeed in two schools since going part time, I need to realise that it’s not going to happen until I can return to full time. I know why you’re saying is right. It’s just very sad to wave goodbye to a career I’ve spent ten years building
  4. Catjellycat

    Catjellycat Occasional commenter

    My children are a bit older now but when they were pre-school and I was part-time in school, I used to say I was part-time at work, part-time at home and failing at both.

    When my children went to school, I gave more of myself to work and found I was still failing my children. It wasn't so much the hours, it was the post-work exhaustion, you know? I happened to have a few weeks off and despite being really unwell, I was able to actually ask my children about their day and actually listen!

    So I'm now full time but not in teaching. I work less hours than I did on a 0.7 and I earn the same. I can work from home if they're ill and I can drop and pick up regularly with flexitime.

    You only have to see the posts here whenever anyone asks about time-off for Sports Days and the like to know there are a lot of schools out there that have contempt for their parents on staff. Schools must exist that are not like that but I never found them.
  5. skellig1182

    skellig1182 Senior commenter

    What are you doing now? I’m going on maternity leave soon and my head has already told me not to bother applying for part time and it’s a big no no. I’m looking at alternatives.xxx
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. Sonny73

    Sonny73 New commenter

    Thanks for your reply ☺️ This is sadly confirming everything I was already worried about. I think I’ve worked hard enough at trying to stay, but like you say, you can’t be what schools want and have enough left for your family. It’s both good and sad to hear that other mums feel the same. It really is impossible to balance teaching and a family but so reassuring to hear that there is a different working life available ☺️ I think I’ve just become institutionalised by schools and my confidence has become so low that it doesn’t feel like I’d succeed in anything! I was hoping that schools were starting to engage with the D of E’s and OFSTED’s advice regarding part time teachers and job sharing- I haven’t seen any evidence so far!
    agathamorse and Catgirl1964 like this.
  7. Sonny73

    Sonny73 New commenter

    Thanks for this. It confirms everything I already knew. I just need to move on and out of teaching. Hopefully when the retention crisis becomes unmanageable we may see a change in approach, but I’m not holding my breath! It feels like women who want to become mothers have a shelf life in teaching. I am now so disillusioned with the career I used to adore and respect so much!
    annascience2012 and agathamorse like this.
  8. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I must be incredibly lucky - at my independent school, there are a number of part-time staff and whilst they do work very hard, it is manageable and they seem to be appreciated (but not always)

    I do work full-time with a 7-year old but mostly manage ok - I am a one-person department so I can control what needs to be done and I do work over the holidays, preparing materials but my son's school year lasts a wee bit more than mine (I get three weeks at Easter, he gets 2). Fortunately, my school can be flexible, eg. I need to run out one day next week to collect him and bring him to the childminder, but I have re-arranged the lesson with a Y13 for another time.
    agathamorse likes this.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I wish I could have been more encouraging.

    Just a question of finding the right school, I think.
    Marisha and agathamorse like this.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Don't forget, it becomes immeasurably easier, as does everything else logistical, when your children are a little older.
    Giving up on it all now is a very short term view in that respect.
    Having a break from it for a year or so is not, but you don't allude to that option at all.
    Why must it be all or nothing?
  11. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    I went back part-time after being at home for 4 years after the children were born. I remained part-time for about 30 years! I must have been lucky, because I was valued and respected, given top sets, decent timetables, etc. That was in a state school. I had a similar experience in two independent schools.
    annascience2012 and agathamorse like this.
  12. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    Older expensive staff and part time women are easy targets in this era. The irony is in some cases it's female HT doing this to part time female staff! This is something that needs to be addressed by the unions on a government level as its discrimination that is being allowed on a national scale (ageism and sexual discrimination are being swept under the carpet). It will take a high profile case that gets air time on the national news to wake up the government I think.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  13. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    There ought to be schools that would bite your hand off for going p/t, budgets and all.
    agathamorse likes this.
  14. Oldbutnotreally

    Oldbutnotreally New commenter

    You may find primary easier to do part time. Job shares and PPA cover are always needed, particularly to release senior staff for their management time. I always worked where my children were at school which worked brilliantly and made life so much easier. Perhaps try some supply where your daughter will be going to school? It's worth a try.
  15. mkl

    mkl New commenter

    I've been in a similar situation as Dunteachin and have been teaching part-time for most of my working life (thirty odd years). I kept working full-time after my first child (there was no option to go part-time then) but after my second one the school was in financial difficulties and welcomed me going part-time. For the last 15 years I have been teaching part-time in two schools (working about 4 days altogether most years), 'specialising' in doing A Level only. I never had any problems from management about this because my part-time role suited them. However, had I wanted promotion as a HoD or in a pastoral role it would probably have been a different story. - I should imagine that in the current financial climate there must be schools out there who welcome part-time teachers (and often they get more out of them than from full-time teachers because they regrettably fill their 'time off' with school work...), so I would not give up but keep looking for such jobs if you enjoy teaching.
    Dunteachin and agathamorse like this.
  16. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    If it helps, being a full time teacher with kids is even harder.
    Dunteachin likes this.
  17. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    A lot of primary schools don't like job shares either - mine used to let people go part time but tend to say no now. PPA tends to be covered by HLTAs. I originally worked at my school (FT) releasing other teachers but that role has gone now.
    My colleagues who have recently had babies have left or returned full time.
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. Catjellycat

    Catjellycat Occasional commenter

    I went to work for the council. I had to take a pay cut to start but got up to what would have been my full time equivalent within a year. If you can afford it, it’s always an option. Or I always eye up the Aldi graduate scheme which has you on 70k by Year 4. Something to consider.
  19. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I'm really shocked by this - part-time staff are just so much part of the norm where I work.

    I would say the school is most comfortable with people who work 0.8, as it's not very part time. I have loads of colleagues who work 0.8.

    But I also have a colleague who works 0.5 and is a TLR holder and very well respected in the school. She has always been part-time here - moved here after having her 2nd child.

    Part-time staff do always have problems to deal with - missing important notices because they were given in briefing on a day they don't work. Or needing to attend parents' evening for groups they teach, which is way more than 0.5 of the parents' evenings. Or tasks such as data analysis being set for INSET days to allow staff a couple of hours in directed time to get them done, but the part-time colleague doesn't work on that day so has to do it all at home in their own time...

    None of this is good, but I don't think it's deliberate discrimination against part-time staff, it's more the complicated logistics of managing part-time staff and nobody in SLT ever sits down and thinks about how this affects part-time staff until the staff member actually goes and asks them about it.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  20. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I think English is a subject where it's harder to have part-timers, because classes will have three/four lessons a week. That means that it's virtually impossible to timetable someone who is only in on three days without shared classes. Shared classes can work well, particularly if it's a jobshare where the same two teachers share all the same classes, cutting down the liaison, but getting a good jobshare partnership established is not always easy; appointing two good part-timers doesn't guarantee that they will work well together.

    I'm maths, which has the same problem. I've done some bitty timetables, teaching across more days, which has meant I could take on whole groups. Obviously for this to work, the school needs to be local (to keep travel down), and your child needs to be in school (or the childcare costs are too much). However when you get to that stage, I think it can be worth flagging if you're happy to work part days. I've worked in three schools on this sort of contract, and they've done their level best to make sure my lessons on any particular day were consecutive.

    The other thing to explore is finding someone else in your position, with whom you think you could work well, and applying as a ready-made jobshare pair. One school, when I asked whether they would consider a part-time applicant, said "only if you apply with someone else as a jobshare".
    annascience2012 and Dunteachin like this.

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