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First day back after mat leave and it's a flipping disaster

(8 Posts)
fleacircus Mon 07-Jul-08 17:18:04

I'm a teacher, I run a (very successful) support centre within a secondary school for groups of pupils performing below national average.

Got back today, the room where the centre is based has been turned into a classroom for a different subject, the centre is being rehoused but the room we're supposed to go to is completely unready and lacks basic equipment (i.e. desks).

My office is off the back of the old centre, on the other side of the site. There isn't any alternative office space. The PC and phone from my office have been given to the person who was doing my mat cover as she now has a new role. So I spent the day unable to do any work.

I have been given a limited timetable of cover for another teacher who is off sick. But no schemes of work or lesson plans and it's not a syllabus I'm familiar with. It includes a GCSE class.

Can anyone clarify the laws about returning from leave for me? Is there an argument about loss of status? My post is middle management; at the moment I feel like a supply teacher and also that all the work I've put in setting up the centre in the first place has been undone. I'm going to have to start again, completely from scratch.

Lucycat Mon 07-Jul-08 17:27:50

I'd go straight to your line manager and demand to know what is going on?

Why do you have to do cover? What has happened to the pupils that your mat cover teacher was 'looking after'?

sounds totally crap to me tbh and you are quite rightly annoyed.

Sorry i can't help with the legal side, just wanted to extend my sympathies!

flowerybeanbag Mon 07-Jul-08 19:18:09

The law says you must return to the same job on the same terms and conditions if you come back after ordinary maternity leave. If, after additional maternity leave it is not practicable to return you to the same job, you must be offered a suitable alternative on no less favourable terms and conditions.

What have you actually been told by your line manager about your original job? The cover sounds like a temporary thing, do you know how long for? Presumably until equipment arrives for the new location? When you asked about your office space what were you told? An employer should keep employees on maternity leave informed of major changes like this - did you really just turn up having been led to believe all was as before but find it different? When you last spoke to your line manager prior to your return what was the situation then?

It sounds like the centre being rehoused may undo some of the work you have done before but have you any reason to think your maternity leave has anything to do with that -is there any reason to believe that the rehousing would not have taken place? It doesn't sound like a decision that wouldn't have been taken otherwise, but obviously I don't know.

Apologies for all the questions, but the best course of action for you to take depends on so many things, including what communication has been up until now.

findtheriver Mon 07-Jul-08 20:13:38

Oh my god!! Nightmare! Flowery is correct - you only have the right to return to the same post if you take the ordinary maternity leave without the additional part. I wonder if it's a similar situation to the school where I work. We have had a few people who take additional maternity leave, so they are off from, say, Sept to June. It is virtually impossible to recruit maternity cover for those exact times - most teachers want the full academic year, and will turn the post down if they're going to be dropped in June when the original postholder returns. So what has happened is that the replacement is recruited for the whole school year, and when the original postholder returns, there are in effect two people doing the job for a couple of months. In our school, this means that the person returning from maternity leave does cover for a while. It may seem like a 'demotion', but try looking at it from the schools viewpoint. Maternity rights are stacked very much in favour of the employee these days. You don't have to give much notice before you intend to return, for instance, so you could in theory, go on maternity leave for 6 months, then after you've had the baby decide you want a full year, and then maybe change your mind again and want to come back after, say, 10 months. It can be a nightmare for the employer to cover all this. It must be a horrible feeling to come back to something that wasnt what you expected, but I think you need to talk to your line manager and clarify what's going on. Hope that helps.

ANTagony Mon 07-Jul-08 20:23:53

Its so tough going back and readjusting. Really rough when you've spent so much time and effort setting up something so go that has been let go. Don't forget how good you are - in an odd sort of way its flattery that no one else has been able to maintain your high standards.

Can you potentially turn this situation on its head?

I know it means work but could you get together a list of all the things you're going to need, equipment desks, phone, PC, staff resource, office space near the class room etc and turn it into a proactive discussion with your boss.

I don't know how pay etc are rated but if you were able to set targets at the same time you may even be able to use achieving those as a payrise opportunity.

Please don't get dismayed we need good enthusiastic committed teachers.

Best of luck

fizzbuzz Mon 07-Jul-08 20:26:30

Oh Fleacircus, a similar thing happened to me. I'm a teacher and the law isn't quite as clear as with other jobs.

Basically your contract says something like "any duties as dircted by the headteacher" or some other nonsense. It is in the "Burgandy Book" thingy. I suffered a complete timetable change including subjects I had never taught. However I returned to work in June, and my timetable reverted to normal in the September of the next year.

I had unions in and everything, but go nowhere. However if you are middle management, and are now just a classroom teacher, they do appear to have changed your job, which I think may be different although you "can sstill do any duties as directed by headteacher etc etc"

Speak to your union

I felt I had to start all over again from scratch, it took me a year to re-establish myself. I think this is a situation that is unique to schools............

fizzbuzz Mon 07-Jul-08 20:46:40

I think findtheriver eplains it really it like that?

I went on mat leave in May, and my colleagues wer forced to use their time freed from exam classes to cover my timetable...

"Any duties....."...........

fleacircus Fri 11-Jul-08 16:29:11

Thank you - ended up speaking to the head about it; well, was called in for slight dressing down about the tone of one of my emails - apparently my request for a PC was unduly 'sharp'. I explained that sharp was the least of their worries and I was extremely disappointed about the way the whole thing had been handled. And to give her her due, she sorted me out a brand new PC there and then, made sure it was installed straight away, then took me over to the new classroom to talk me through the alterations that are being made. It's not brilliant but it's a hell of a lot better.

I think the person doing my cover is bizarrely solipsistic, though, seems to think it's ok just to take whatever she wants, and also seems to want my job.

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