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Miserable on maternity leave

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by RGJM2012, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. RGJM2012

    RGJM2012 New commenter

    Currently on maternity leave (baby is 2 weeks old, born 3 weeks early) and the school have not stopped ringing since I have been on leave. I have just been given until next Friday to write the whole classes reports as there is no one else to do it. I am so upset, I was put on the spot and said yes, got off the phone and ended up arguing with my husband because he is sick of them ringing and making me work when I am meant to be enjoying my baby. The whole pregnancy has been stressful enough! I am going to list below everything that has happened whilst pregnant because you honestly couldn't make it up:

    • Told work I was pregnant at 6 weeks as we had an activity residential coming up and also I have some volatile children in my class and wanted a risk assessment - this never happened.
    • Missed the residential due to a UTI that required a stay in hospital - upon return to work I was observed by the head, praised highly for the lesson and then given IR as she said she had to look at their progress and as I had had a week off she felt I hadn't been consistent enough and if the morning sickness was going to continue then they'd have to look at other options for the class.
    • Spoken to by the Deputy Head regarding time off sick (same time off, no other days off) and had to point out that as it was pregnancy related it wasn't the same - he then went off to speak to the head then came back and said 'what i meant to say was do you need anything to help you whilst you're pregnant' - very odd!
    • The teacher in the class next to me was asked to leave and I was then given an additional 16 children which made a mixed 5/6 class and a mixed new and old curriculum to replan for the year - I am an NQT. Was offered no support and never saw my mentor (he left before the end of the spring term) so the stress levels obviously rose from there.
    • As the Y6 teacher I had the usual stress of SATs and was working 12 hour days by 30 weeks pregnant, unfortunately I collapsed at home at 33 weeks pregnant and was hospitalised for a week.
    • During that week I was emailed and called several times regarding work, ended up planning for the supply that was in even though the Dr signed me off for 3 weeks.
    • SInce starting maternity leave I have had all the year 6 books dropped off at my house to be marked as no one had done it and they had the marking moderation coming up (I had already stated the levels for the children and updated their assessments)
    • they still haven't covered my leave so have the SENCO and a supply in the class
    • they rang again last week about assessing the children (again -everything is in their books and the assessments are updated)
    • they've just rang me to write all the class reports as there is no one to do it.
    • I gave them my MATB1 form when I was 20 weeks and asked them to let me know how much maternity pay I could get, was told full pay and not to worry. Got my statement yesterday with the breakdown on it and after next month it drops to SMP - we can't afford to live on this. Rang and questioned it - turns out I haven't been working there long enough and missed out by 3 weeks. If I had been told this at 20 weeks I could have put money aside so I could have longer off, it now looks like I'll have to go back for Sept Term 1 or we wont be able to afford the mortgage.

    Am I being dramatic thinking all of the above is out of order? I feel so upset by it all and just don't want to go back there at all! I know there is probably nothing I can do about any of it, I think I wanted to rant!
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter


    Refuse any more contact, return marking undone and recuperate/looking after baby and yourself.

    You, your health and your baby -the only thing that matters....
  3. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter


    Good advice.

    If nec. use your husband to field contacts with the school - I'd have only been too happy to have done so if my wife was being harassed in this way!
  4. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Some stuff is really out of order, other things not so much.

    Writing reports when on maternity leave is wholly unacceptable. You shouldn't have been asked.
  5. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    As others have said, you need to contact your union. Whilst the ongoing issues with your former class are not your responsibility, your current management seems to be the sort to blame you for these sort of things anyway. You have not mentioned passing or failing your NQT year - is that a potential issue as well? Your union can act as your contact with the school and will be able to go in to sort out any issues with pay etc. If you have to return to school earlier than planned, check your dates etc. so you can give the appropriate notice. Equally, if you need to go back for the start of the next academic year, consider returning to school for the last day of term so you get full pay over the summer holidays.

    As for does and don'ts - Do not pick up the phone if it is your school calling, do not look at your email and, unless you have invited a work colleague to come and visit you and your baby, do not answer the door to them.

    Put all feelings to do with school to the side for the moment and enjoy some time with your baby (and congratulations too!).
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Congratulations on the arrival of your baby!

    I am really appalled to hear about the other stuff. You must contact your Union, as a matter of urgency. Ring the regional office as pregnancy/maternity discrimination is a complex area. This is very seriously out of order .

    Do not delay as time limits are very important.
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    A new baby - how lovely! Except that it is not as good as it should be. You are being asked to do the unacceptable, and it will impact on your mental and physical well-being.

    Yes, follow the advice about contacting your union. But also do this:

    Speak immediately to your Dr about this, (you might even be able to talk to the Receptionist and tell her what's happening and the Dr might just ring you to do it quickly) and then write the following e-mail to the Head, CC to Deputy Head, School Secretary, anyone else who might contact you

    Put the date clearly on the top of the e-mail when you begin to write it.

    Dear colleagues

    Many thanks to all of you who have sent cards on the birth of my baby.

    As you know, I am currently coping with a premature baby whilst recovering from childbirth.

    On medical advice, I am therefore unable to receive any communications from the school nor carry out any tasks related to my employment for the foreseeable future.

    You should therefore not e-mail, phone, write, visit or attempt to get in touch with me in any way for a reason related to my employment, until further notice.

    I am sorry to have to say this to my colleagues, but the health and welfare both of my infant child and of myself depend on this.

    Wishing you all a pleasant end of the summer term.

    This will give you, your baby, and your husband a more peaceful time at this very important moment in your family life.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  8. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Absolutey shocking. Not just the way they are hounding you at present, but also that you were signed off sick and they expected you to plan for a long term supply...who should be planning themselves.

    Do as Theo and others advise.

    Then enjoy your baby!
  9. Appalling behaviour by the SLT in your school. I am not at all surprised you don't want to go back. You MUST take the advice given regarding contact with your union asap. I had a grievance with a former employer and didn't have the energy/guts to deal with it whilst I was still there. As a result, I 'missed' the deadline for filing a formal complaint and the head teacher continues to be a bully, a liar and to top it all, just got 'outstanding' from Ofsted. Look after yourself.
  10. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I agree with all the advice above.

    Just to be pedantic about, taking your bullet points in order:

    1) Out of order - not unusual, unfortunately, but I don't think it would have been unreasonable to refuse to do the residential without.

    2) Out of order.

    3) Out of order, although it sounds like the head might have informed the DH of that.

    4) These things happen, but you were still entitled to your NQT support, and it would have been sensible of them to give you some extra planning time to cope with the change.

    5) You should not have been working 12 hour days, and the school does have a duty of care; this is why the risk assessment should have been done, and revisited if necessary.

    6) Out of order.

    7) Out of order - you are not even allowed to work in the first two weeks - and it sounds like you had done everything possible to leave them in a position to pick up where you left off.

    8) That's their problem.

    9) One contact to ask where to find what they need should be enough - obviously when maternity leave begins abruptly they won't necessarily know by magic. I remember someone visiting me in the hospital to collect a filing cabinet key! I'm sure you wouldn't have objected to replying to a single e-mail with any vital information they might not have located.

    10) Out of order. There is not "no one to do it" - if necessary, the head should do it. Parents will, I'm quite sure, understand if they are briefer and less personal than usual, but it sounds as if you have left books and assessments that they can use. If you had dropped dead, they would have had to manage!

    11) That is really unfortunate, but I don't know whether much can be done about it. Explore your options - whether your mortgage company will give you a payment holiday, for instance.

    So most of those points are things it would be entirely reasonable to contact your union about on their own.

    What beats me is why, after you collapsed at 33 weeks, they didn't make extremely sure that they were doing everything by the book.
  11. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Are you eligible for Maternity Allowance? You only need to have worked for 13 weeks of the 66 weeks before your baby was born.


    Speak to your health visitor too - when they visit show them the piles of work that have been sent to you. Your HV may well write a supporting letter, because all new mums are very vulnerable to post-natal depression at this point in time and you need to focus on your physical and mental health so that you can look after your baby properly.
  12. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Rg - I'm so sorry that it's taken until crisis point for you to get in touch and seek some support here. On the pregnancy forum I frequently answer questions regarding eligibility for maternity pay for example which could have at least eased that shock and stress by allowing your to prepare.

    I think Theos example letter is excellent? She has a good diplomatic turn of phrase there. Right now, post birth, hormones lend to you being additionally sensitive and vulnerable, and I am astonished at how the school have conducted themselves. I do hope your union support you substantially in making the school understand how their expectations of someone on maternity leave are ridiculous and unacceptable. I'm also amazed at the balls of your colleagues who I can only assume have never had a new born to manage, else they would completely understand WHY such 'demands' and pressure is unacceptable from a compassion and humane perspective.
  13. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Great advice above, to which I can add nothing but my sympathy and congratulations on your new baby.
  14. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    You are on maternity leave, why are you giving work light & day!?! It's SLT's responsiblity to source a covering teacher, not yours. As for writing reports, why did they not ask you before you commenced maternity leave? You aren't obliged too. So don't. The covering teacher or a senior teacher should be able to pick up progress etc from exercise books and support staff.

    Don't worry about it. Your family is first.
  15. Peter9999

    Peter9999 New commenter

    It's come to this. Teaching is a job: nothing more nothing less. How dare the dunderheads at your school ask you to do such things during one of the most stressful times of your life. Politely but firmly tell them you have other, far more important, priorities.

    Look after yourself and your new baby. These times are precious.
  16. Mrs_Frog

    Mrs_Frog New commenter

    Congratulations firstly and foremost!!

    There is a legal requirement, I seem to remember from my own mat leave, that a new mother MUST take 2 weeks after the birth of a child.

    From a moral point of view, they should not be contacting you at all at this time (I refused to even have family round until after little man was over the 2 week stage), and I fully agree with frustum's 'out of order' comments.

    There are many people on here who are able to give clear headed advice, TheoGriff and GLsghost to name just two. Get that union advice pronto, and get to the GP!

    Very very best of luck!

    MF x
  17. tall tales

    tall tales New commenter

    Tell them no and don't even look at, let alone answer, any texts or emails. They've got a bloody cheek! You need time to recover, bond and enjoy this wonderful time in your life ( you won't get it back). Please do not allow them to spoil this for you. If you're not up to it, get your partner to 'politely' tell them to ..... off!
  18. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I have seen a lot on this forum but this post left me open mouthed in amazement. OP - your school is not just taking you for a ride, they have made you take up residence at Alton Towers!

    Tell the school firmly that you are on LEAVE, that you refuse to do ANY work, marking, planning etc and you will NOT respond to e-mails /phone calls etc. Any hassle at all, involve the Union (what good they do rhese days but its worth a try.)

    This period is about YOUR BABY and YOU, not the SCHOOL!
  19. Hi

    Congratulations on the birth of your baby! I feel like I can relate a lot to your situation so thought I'd explain what I went through and try to reassure you...

    I too had a preemie in my NQT year. I was hospitalised at 28 weeks and my son was born at 30 weeks. This was due to severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome - I firmly believe that this happened due to the pressure I was under at work. I was made to feel, on a daily basis, like I wasn't good enough. Looking back, I'd class it as bullying but at the time I just felt like a failure.

    My school were fairly supportive during my mat leave but I'd taken a set of books home on the Friday afternoon (was hospitalised early Sat morning) and I was hounded to return them. They were unmarked and I was too ill to mark them so I had to get my boyfriend to return them unmarked. A snippy comment was made about this but I couldn't even open my eyes due to the horrific headaches I was suffering from - at one point I considered marking them in my hospital bed on the tray but my boyfriend point blank refused to bring them in and my extended family and midwives agreed.

    My son was born in March, didn't come home until mid-April and wasn't due until mid-May but I had no option but to go back to work in the July in order to be paid over the summer. I was in the same boat as you with the number of weeks worked. I think I missed out by 6 weeks, with him being so early. Technically, he was only two months old when I went back to work. He'd just gone into newborn clothes.

    Instead of enjoying my time with my new baby, I fretted about work about money and about balancing work and the baby in the coming September. If I could go back in time, I'd tell myself to forget about the place! I feel robbed of my mat leave and normal pregnancy and two weeks post-partum was rough for me, too.

    I'd refuse point blank to do any work while you're off. You're not being paid in full and you should be using this time to bond with your baby and get used to life as a parent.

    I hope this has been of some use. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself all of the above. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

    Enjoy that baby

    Best wishes


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