This blog first appeared on #maternityteacher (@maternityCPD).
It is a bit different than my usual blogs to be honest as it is not really about RE!!
I wrote this blog because I passionately believe that maternity/paternity leave can be an opportunity for career development and I want to support the #maternityteacher campaign. Let me explain why….
Very few people can probably claim that their career took off during maternity leave….but this is what happened to me…about ten years ago! So how did this happen? In short it was partly due to being in the right place at the right time…but also due to the incredible support of colleagues who saw the opportunities that maternity leave provided for flexible working from home.
Ten years ago I had a toddler running around, and had a nine month old baby. I had been an RE adviser to the London Borough of Newham for a number of years, but had decided to explore other avenues of work to fit better around my family and avoid a long commute to London each day as we’d moved to Cambridgeshire.
A chance encounter
During my maternity leave I started to run a toddler group; slightly out of my comfort zone as I am secondary trained! However, I required some resources to help me, and whilst in search of these bumped into an RE adviser! She suggested that whilst I was on maternity leave I trained to become a Section 48 (Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools) inspector. She said I could choose when to undertake inspections and it could work around my children. I took her up on this suggestion and whilst on the training met another adviser who told me they needed a secondary RE specialist to work with schools in Norfolk! My new ‘freelance’ career began!
A networking opportunity
The RE community is strong and vibrant! There is probably some kind of network meeting taking place every week for teachers. There are similar networking opportunities for advisers too, and I decided to pop along to my local group. I was fortunate that my husband was working shifts, so had the children for the morning! It was here that I met Mary Myatt (@MaryMyatt) who at that time was an adviser in Suffolk. Mary saw the possibilities and opportunities! She supported me in my early days as a freelancer by opening doors for project work, and invited me to events to help me network with others. She also always understood the constraints.. there was never any pressure.
A chance to work flexibly
Lastly, a number of organisations contacted me during my maternity leave because they knew I would be based at home! I would have more time to write – apparently! So I wrote articles, I helped prepare a bid for funding, I wrote material for a website, I acted as a consultant for a media organisation… many of these opportunities came about because of the creative thinking of other advisers in my field. Other advisers who did not have time to ‘write’ because they were in schools, had the foresight to provide opportunities for me.
Opportunities for all
In my work as an adviser now there are a number of ways in which I try to support those on maternity/paternity leave, I think partly due to the way my own career has developed. One of my roles now is as Lead Consultant for the TeachRE Course (wwww.teachre.co.uk). This course is distance learning and has many routes and pathways through it. It is completely flexible. We have had teachers complete the course whilst on maternity leave. Want to know more?