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Teaching with MS

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by cbmusic88, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I have recently been diagnosed with MS and I was wondering if anyone knows another teacher in a similar position? I currently work as a 0.6fte secondary music teacher. I dropped my hours at the beginning of this academic year as last year they had me teaching Music, Music Tech, EPQ and ICT (due to hours being cut in music) and I was finding that I was just wrung out at the end of each week.

    I'm SO glad did drop my hours as I don't think my current health situation would have been compatible with full time work. I now currently fix woodwind instruments for the County Music service on my two "days off" and have a prospering repair business which is just fab! I do also use these two days to rest too.

    Anyway, the point of this post is to ask for advice. Right now, I'm okay. But this hideous disease is unpredictable and neither I nor the doctors know when my next relapse will be. Last time I lost all feeling down the left side of my body and couldn't walk for a few weeks. The time before I lost sensation in my right arm and hand (the hand still hasn't returned frustratingly) and couldn't raise my arm to write on the white board - this all took place before my diagnosis.

    So my question is: When I disclose my MS to my headteacher and my HoD. What on earth do I say to stop them panicking? I know I need to go to them with solutions not problems, for example on a Monday night I run ensembles until 6pm. Recently I've noticed my energy levels fizzle out at 4pm so I'm going to ask for a high backed stool so that I can continue to run the groups (sitting down helps my energy levels). I fully intend to keep teaching for as long as I am able, right now I am able to function normally, but I know this won't always be the case.
    Should I organise an occupational health visit? Does anyone know what this entails? I also know there is something called access to work but I haven't looked into this yet.

    Sorry if this all seems a bit rambling. Lots to think about.

    Thanks :)
    agathamorse and bevferg like this.
  2. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    May I ask what treatment you have had/been offered?
    My daughter was diagnosed with MS two years ago. She is a student midwife (now in her final year). She has had Lemtrada and is doing fine.
    MS is not a life sentence.....even though it feels like it at the time.
    PM me if you want any more help or advice.....but every MS is different.
    cbmusic88 likes this.
  3. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    Hi CBM
    You have all my best wishes and I hope things go as well as they can. I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you, but I'm posting to tell you about an ex-colleague and friend of mine who taught with MS. She had good days and bad days but the kids were terrific for her. The school modified some of the entrances for when she had to use a wheel chair. She was a very positive person and I'm sure this helped a lot.

    You have probably already seen this web site but I've pasted it here anyway, and it will also be of help to others in understanding health problems in the work place.

    All the best!
    yafflebag and cbmusic88 like this.
  4. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    You need to let your SMT do the worrying over this. You have enough to deal with. They are the management and it is their job to deal with your situation at work. Yours is to look after yourself as well as you can.
    yafflebag likes this.
  5. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Schedule 1, paragraph 6 (1) Equality Act 2010 lists multiple sclerosis as one of the illnesses that should automatically be accepted as a disability, without challenge.

    This means that your employer has a statutory duty to make whatever reasonable adjustments will enable you to continue to work. That includes paying for them, providing the requirement is not outrageously unreasonable.

    The sooner your employer knows, the sooner is the duty engaged. They cannot make provision to help you, if they don't know about your condition.

    Provision might include additional equipment, but might also involve changing your work hours or duties. It may be that an early discussion with occupational health can help you to identify what might be helpful. It is for you to suggest, not for the employer to impose any token gesture that has no real possibility of enabling you to work.

    Access to Work may be useful for you and you can find out more about it here. https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work It may be that they ca help with equipment, or the provision of a support worker.

    As a disabled person, your employer may not generally include disability-related sickness absence in any application of the sickness absence policy to you.

    Don't forget the excellent MS Society helpline, if you need support or information. https://www.mssociety.org.uk/ms-hel...ta0-XFzi4RYFVmjEwgRKKaPJ2xq52XqBoChGIQAvD_BwE

    Finally, make an application for Personal Independence Paymant ("PIP"). This is a non income dependent benefit and will assist you with the additional expenses that having MS inevitably brings.

  6. Braindead101

    Braindead101 New commenter

    I found occupational health tremendously helpful when dealing with my problems (not ms) and on each of the reports I have had they have included that my condition was covered by the equalities act. This has made dealing with school so much simpler. My school have been supportive from the outset and have made all the reasonable adjustments I have asked for, but as has been pointed out above, they can't unless you tell them. It will help if you are clear about what you need when speaking to school. Good luck and take care of yourself. You matter more than your job.
  7. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Thank you all, I had a really encouraging meeting with the Head today and gave him a document from the MS Society website called "MS an employers guide". he was hugely supportive and proactive in putting a plan together for the 'rough times'. I'm going to be assessed by someone from Occ. health asap, they are ordering a high backed stool for me to help with running extra-curric ensembles and I've asked for regular meetings with a member of SLT to discuss how I'm managing things.
    It sounds like it will be a steep learning curve for both me and the school but I definitely feel that I'm taking the right steps.

    Thanks for all the links, I'm working hard to be as much of an expert as I can in explaining MS and understanding it - these really help especially the legal stuff.
  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    This sounds like exemplary practice by your Headteacher. No-one expects an employer to be an overnight expert in any disability. It will (and should be) an ongoing dialogue with regular opportunities to review.
  9. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Your school have a duty of care towards you - I'm really pleased the HT is being so supportive.
    yafflebag likes this.
  10. marple1

    marple1 New commenter

  11. marple1

    marple1 New commenter

    Could the original poster please pm me. I have MS, I am SLT, I teach in a secondary school and I would like to chat!
    yafflebag and BelleDuJour like this.
  12. Katie777

    Katie777 New commenter

    It sounds like your school have been really supportive so far, that's great, hopefully you will be able to continue to teach for as long as you want. I have MS and no longer teach (although I do work), primarily to avoid stress, a big decision but the right one for me, my work situation was complicated o_O

    Please check out https://overcomingms.org/ an amazing evidence-based recovery program. I was very poorly but am 3 years relapse free following oms 100%. It's a fabulous source of positive, constructive support and was an absolute lifeline for me post-diagnosis. IMHO there is every reason to be hopeful for the future :)
    yafflebag likes this.
  13. fudgeface

    fudgeface Occasional commenter

    I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Thank goodness your HT has been proactive and supportive. All the best for the future.
  14. marple1

    marple1 New commenter

    I have attempted to start a conversation with you on this forum. I have MS - I think I could offer some useful advice or strategies! PLEASE get in touch.
    yafflebag likes this.
  15. normaaitken1

    normaaitken1 New commenter

    hi, I was diagnosed with ms in march and was off work for 3 months. i'm due to go back to school full-time in august. am looking forward to it, but apprehensive too.

    cbmusic88, how have things been going?

    marple 1 i'd appreciate your advice!
  16. bevferg

    bevferg New commenter

    Hi I am a new to this forum and would also like to touch base with you if you have time! Thanks. Beverley
    yafflebag likes this.
  17. bevferg

    bevferg New commenter

    Hi I was diagnosed in 2016 after a long journey to finally get diagnosed. In the same year I had to take redundancy from a private school so went to long term supply work in two state schools.

    I found the management teams much more supportive in these schools. The council also had a fantastic counseling/OT sevice. Any adjustments required were taken seriously. If I had to be off, then I was not expect to be writing reports or setting work like in the PS I previously worked in! I have been doing long-term supply in another PS this year, and again there is an expectation that I will attempt to do some work from home during this relapse I am currently experiencing.

    Luckily I have secured a permanent contract in a local state school in January, and will be working 0.8 with a day off.

    I appreciate what you say about fizzling out. It is hard especially when you get good days and you feel on top of the world as you want to be like that all the time.

    I have always been open with telling people, and most colleagues have been supportive. Older pupils have also been great. Leads to really interesting discussions when teaching the 'medical ethics' part of my RE courses.

    Access to Work can help with things like getting a taxi to work if you are struggling with using car/public transport. You are expected to make a financial contribution, and you have to find quotes for taxis if you wish to use them. Financially it was going to work out expensive for me as my current job is quite a distance from my house (thankfully new job 10 mins from house!). Public transport just not feasible. I asked about staying in a Premier Inn or such like 1 or 2 nights a week but they would not consider this - even though it would have been cheaper especially if I made a block booking. Such a shame as less driving would have made this job much easier.

    All the best
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. marple1

    marple1 New commenter

    Please feel free to PM me or start a conversation with me.
  19. marple1

    marple1 New commenter

    PM me!!!!!
  20. marple1

    marple1 New commenter

    PM me or start a conversation - happyto talk

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