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Leaving teaching/child with special needs/work-life balance

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by MichelleCaddy79, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. MichelleCaddy79

    MichelleCaddy79 New commenter

    I am currently on maternity leave, due to return to work next month. I teach English full time at an academy and since starting there have struggled with balancing the workload with my personal circumstances. My eldest son has autism and is currently being screened for ADHD and since diagnosis it is becoming more apparent that his needs are more complex than we anticipated. I can't take work home to do after school as he is normally all over the place after his own school day and he regularly wakes in the early hours of the morning. And now, there's a second child who will be 8 months when I go back to work. Although I do love teaching, I can't seem to see a viable way of carrying on and doing the job well and continue to give my children what they need. I don't have any help from family members in terms of childcare, so weekends and school holidays I am the primary caregiver which leaves me working late into the night to keep on top of marking and planning. I am actually dreading my return to work! I have always been very honest with the SLT about my son and his condition and did have to have a lot of time off to attend appointments for his statement and diagnosis. These were then used in my attendance review and I had to go to a welfare meeting to discuss why I had been off...we now have a new Headteacher and to be honest, I can't see their limited understanding and flexibility stretching much further. Then there's my own health and wellbeing...I know I have to return for a period of 13 weeks or face paying back some of my maternity pay, but wondered what my approach should be in terms of new employment. Clearly I won't be looking for teaching posts, so the notice period/start dates may not 'fit' with school's term dates - do I tell my Headteacher sooner rather than later that I intend to leave once I have completed my 13 weeks or keep quiet and apply for work and negotiate my leaving date once a job offer is in place? Sorry it's a complex one, but it's a complex situation!
     
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    Several points here. And the first is congratulations on the new baby! I'd also like to say how much I admire how you have been coping with your elder son's needs. He is obviously very lucky to have you as his Mum!

    Well, the bad news here is that . .. you cannot start another job except after the official leaving dates. Which means leaving at the end of term only. Sorry!

    There's just an outside chance that you could negotiate an earlier leaving date, but it's very much at the discretion of the Head and Governing Body, and not usual, so don't get your hopes up.

    Well, as explained above you cannot do this, so it doesn't arise. Sorry again!

    Now you are thinking of doing the 13 weeks. Don't forget that holidays count towards these 13 weeks. In fact most people choose to "come back" to work on the first day of a holiday, so that gets them their salary earlier instead of maternity allowance, and they start their return with a break!

    You may like to consider asking to go part time, to allow you to care for the two children. Here are some notes I have written on this:

    Writing to ask for a part-time return after maternity leave.

    On maternity leave and wondering if you can return part time? Here's how to write the letter to your Headteacher.

    From 30 June 2014 every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment service.

    (Before 30 June 2014, the right only applies to parents of children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers.)

    However, it is often on return from maternity leave that an employee wishes to do this. Doesn’t have to be then, however!

    There is a formal procedure involved in asking to change to part-time hours, and I suggest that you follow it exactly, very formally.

    You have a legal right to make an application (but only once per year), and have it seriously considered, butnota right to have it granted.


    If the request is turned down, it must be for anappropriate business reason, and they must tell you what the reason is so that you can appeal against it.

    First stage is to put your request in writing to the Headteacher.

    NB You can see from the letter that the onus is on YOU to show how it can be managed, YOU have to identify any possible drawbacks for the school and say how they can be overcome. If you just say there are no problems, and then they identify some and turn your request down, you haven't had a chance to show a possible solution. So make sure you think it through carefully, both the problems (normally to do with communication between the two halves) and how to solve them.

    Here's the sort of letter you should write. Nice and formal - shows you want a formal - and legal - reply! Copy it exactly, including all the either/or bits.

    Dear xxx


    I would like to apply to work a pattern that is different to my normal working pattern under my right provided in law.


    I would like this new pattern of working to begin on………………….


    * I have worked continuously as an employee of the company for the last 26 weeks




    * I have not made a request to work flexibly under this right during the past 12 months




    The proposed new working pattern that I am applying for is ………………………



    This will affect you as an employer in that ………………………………………. This impact on you as an employer can be lessened or removed by ……………………………


    I understand that according to the legislation, my request will be considered and decided upon within three months of the receipt of the request. I also understand that employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request.

    There you have it – that’s what you should write. Cross your fingers as you type it – I wish you good luck with your request.


    N.B. you should note that if granted, your contract will change permanently to a part-time one, and you will not have an automatic right to a full-time post in the future, you’ll have to apply with other candidates.

    N.B. (again). If you return part-time, then your 13 weeks will have to be extended, as it is 13 weeks full-time for you, as you were full time before. So go to 50%, and you'll have to do 26 weeks minimum.

    But including holidays!

    Get yourself a calendar and mark out the 13 weeks, (or equivalent if part time), to end at the leaving dates (31 December, 30 April, 31 August) to see when would be the best time to return.

    Good luck!
     

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