Isn’t it a shame mothers don’t have a better pathway back to work after several years out having children. If more part time work were available – more work would be done by more mums, who have had a few years out to bring up children.
Time and time again I register skilled teachers at the agency, women who wanted to give their children their full attention for 4/5 years and then find themselves feeling that returning to full time teaching immediately is still:
a) Not possible.
b) Too big a step given their slight “rustiness”.
They join a supply teaching agency in the hope that we will be able to find part time supply teaching work in the London area.
I see the returning to work thing from 2 angles. Firstly from the husband angle and secondly from my work as a recruiter of supply teachers.
We have many candidates who come to us seeking part time supply teaching work, many of whom are mothers and many of whom are very good teachers. If only we could put two of them together to work a full teaching timetable!
My wife needs a part time job role in the profession she qualified in (in her case as a lawyer, which took years and cost a small fortune)….but employers do not want part time (lawyers) or job sharing lawyers – only your 12 hour day mum (with nanny since the age of 3 months is welcome) it seems!
The same applies to teaching. The teachers who register with our agency and want part time work suffer a similar lack of success, because although:
a) They are often really excellent teachers and
b) They teach in-need secondary subjects in an environment of teacher shortage, schools are reluctant to take them on part time job share basis because of expense and because it is viewed as a risk.
I will explain what schools said about job shares further down this article.
The fact is for most families life is simply too expensive to have one adult family member earning (and one not earning). Also part time work is a more attractive method of getting back into work than waiting until children are much older and then going back full time after a decade of being out of work.
Inevitably it will put women in a really difficult situation. To get a job of any kind they must avoid taking any significant time off work OR they must have fewer (or no) children!
It can be enormously frustrating for us, as a recruiter of effective teachers, when we see schools make poor recruitment choices because they do not want to hire part time job sharing teachers.
The government is clearly keen on getting women back to work – it is heavily in their interests! But realistically whilst it suits some women to go back after 3 months of recovery and bonding time, there are always going to be many who want to stay out of the workforce for several years.
We need to make a pathway that encourages reintroduction gradually and sensitively to a group who have inevitably become “rusty”, but often have very valuable knowledge and indemand skills and too much potential to be permanently put out to “career pasture”.
We hope that the coming post recessionary cycle – during which schools traditionally become desperate to recruit teachers– will help those teachers seeking job-share work a chance to gradually re-enter the school environment.
Next week – what schools say about job share arrangements.
About the Author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.