Heartbroken teachers who are forced out of the profession after becoming mothers need better protection from discrimination, a campaign group has said.
Pregnant then Screwed, which promotes the rights of mothers, told Tes that increasing numbers of teachers are being affected by the issue.
Its founder Joeli Brearley said: “We need to do more to protect our teachers from maternity discrimination, we need to talk openly about changing the culture, and where possible make working conditions more flexible to keep talented teachers in the profession.”
Aceil Haddad, Pregnant then Screwed’s head of communications, told Tes the group was surprised by the number of teachers contacting it with problems “because it’s seen as such a family-friendly profession”.
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She added: “Largely, what we are finding is a lot of teachers are struggling to go back because they ask for flexibility and that’s being denied.”
She cited the experience of a friend who had hope to return to the classroom after having a baby.
“She wanted to go back flexibly,” she said. “Her headteacher wouldn’t let her do that, and she was heartbroken, because she knows that she can provide for those kids on a flexible basis but she’s not being allowed to do it.
“She’s very passionate about her children. She had them in years 3 and 4 and wanted to help them in year 5. She’s got a really good bond with those children, knows how they operate, knows where there are some special needs.
“This is someone I would love to have my child taught by and she feels heartbroken because she knows one kid in particular is going to fall behind. She feels like she is letting her kids down.”
Last month, Jack Worth of the National Foundation for Educational Research, said improving part-time working was critical to tackling the teacher retention crisis.
Shortly afterwards, the DfE made part-time working a key part of its flagship recruitment and retention strategy.
Ms Haddad said teachers with children were not asking for the school day to be changed to fit around them, and added: “It just requires a bit of flexibility, a change of culture and a bit of wiggle room, and there are cases of really good schools being more than happy to have two-teacher classes.”
Pregnant then Screwed will hold a teachers’ social media event from 10am to 6pm on Thursday 28 February on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter via the hashtag #PTSteachers.
Ms Haddad said: “Now that we have advertised this social media day we are seeing lots of teachers coming through saying ‘Oh my God, I thought it was just me, I didn’t think they were being inflexible’, because the nature of maternity discrimination is that it’s a very hidden thing.
“In our view, it’s something that is happening, and we would say that levels are rising too, because people are recognising it and calling it out too in the #MeToo era.”