Working in Higher Ed in the UK(12 Posts)
Just wondering, how it would be as a single mother working in higher ed (senior management role) in reality.
I'd like to eventually return to the UK, my DD is currently 8, but I'm wondering how on earth I'd manage the logistics of school runs and other school commitments.
Are there morning and afternoon pre=school clubs in the UK? I'd have no family help and am worried that a demanding job and motherhood might not mix.
Does anyone in higher ed have any flexible working hours??
thanks for any advice
A lot of schools, especially in towns, now have before and after school clubs - so they can be at school from 8 till 6 (you have to pay for these, and they may be full initially).
The flexible hours thing - hard to say. This will probably depend on how much they want you. Senior management are expected to work pretty hard. But they will be aware of indirect discrimination arguments and may be prepared to offer some flexibility. I would get the job offer first and then discuss if necessary. If you are senior you may have some say over what you do during the day - taking time off to go to the odd school event may be ok if you are perceived to be pulling your weight.
Your daughter will make friends and this should give you some cover - arranging playdates and sleepovers when you really need cover.
She is a good age - by the time she's about 11 she'll be able to stay at home on her own when necessary.
But children tend to do a lot of activities, which will be hard for you to organise if you have to work late on a regular basis.
If you're on a good salary, you could consider getting an aupair. That would make everything much easier.
there are a lot of flexible work patterns in higher ed in my experience, and plenty of single parents. But senior management has a habit of arranging meetings at inconvenient times, 8am, or 5pm are typical, you would need either to be able to manage these times, or not be obliged to attend in person/at all. The more senior you are the more you can set your own terms, ideally when you take the job if there are specific things around timing you have to stick to. I am in higher ed, reasonably senior. I leave at 5 to collect my children, and I am not in early either, but I am 'on call'/answering emails/completing work evenings and weekends, and the people whose approval I need know this and are fine with it.
Senior management in an academic role (i.e. are you a professor/dean/pro-vice chancellor?) Or senior is a supporting role (e.g. head of HR). In both cases you will be expected to work very hard (a minimum of 50 hrs per week is normal). BUT - if you're a senior academic you will have a lot of flexibility, whereas in senior admin you will have much less (if any). That being said you have legally protected parental rights which would mean freedom in either case to drop off/pick up children from child care/school.
Full time nursery or school with wraparound childcare is usually 8-6. Doable as a single parent as long as you don't have a long commute. And on a senior management salary you'd probably be able to afford a live-in nanny in any case, so even more flexible.
I think you'd be fine (I'm an academic BTW).
Thanks so much for the responses. It'd be in senior supporting role I think as, although I teach, I don't want to be a full-time teacher, I am currently head of department, but would like to do more educational management.
I am on a great deal here in France and realize that my working hours and flexibility are what are really keeping me here (8 or 9am til 4.30 3 days a week, although I do work once I get home after my DD is in bed, with one day work a week from home, and one day off as in France working 80% is considered normal with children). I feel as if I do a full time job though, I never stop and even at w/e I have teachers contacting me with issues.
I love the fact that I am very present in my daughter's life, and worry that in the UK she'd be in a club every day, so long days, or with a nanny. Makes me sad to think that.
Otherwise, I suppose i could lower my expectations.... Hmmmm :-(
You might find it difficult going straight into a senior admin role without admin experience. Senior HR, Finance, Estates, Library and IT roles will demand skills and quals in those areas, which leaves you with Registry or Secretariat type roles, and they are very competitive.
Universities, for the most part, are very flexible places. That applies to academic and non-academic roles equally, in my experience. I'm an HR Director at a large-ish research strong institution by the way. Most would almost certainly be open to a discussion about your needs. I've worked in four institutions and have found each to be genuinely concerned with practicalities, eg not scheduling meetings at non-family friendly times (where it can't be helped).
Thank you Icetip, you give me hope!
I can do admin but would really like to do more strategy/management. I'm in higher ed, but i suppose i might be able to transfer skills to schools as well. All worth thinking about..
I think if you look out for institutions which participate in the Athena SWAN charter scheme, you will find them more likely to offer flexibility and hold fewer meetings at awkward times. Awards seem to go to departments rather than the parent institution ... I think there's still a long way to go.
My last department blatently lied on their Athena Swan application and gave completely fictitious information. I made a complaint internally, but never had the guts to whistle blow (despite having plenty of evidence). I would therefore take the Athena Swan award with a large dose of salt.
Having checked out Athena Swan, it's not really suitable for me.
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