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Fellow academics - some advice needed on Mat Leave

(6 Posts)
dontrunwithscissors Wed 19-Aug-09 22:34:02

I hope I don't make myself a nuisance on here(!), but I really could use some advice from fellow academics.

I'm currently pregnant with #2 (due in Jan). I told my Head of Dept very early on as I wanted him to have a chance to take that into consideration when planning teaching provision for this coming academic year. I told him that I would probably leave 6 weeks before the end of the semester (meaning 3 weeks of teaching, 1 revision week, 2 exam weeks.) I offered to carry on teaching one module through to the end (but with marking done by someone else), but that they would need to cover teaching on my other module.

Now, for a number of reasons I won't go into, I find myself wanting/needing to leave 2 weeks earlier. Whilst I'll still see one of the modules through to the end, it will mean half of the teaching on the other module (5/10 weeks) will have to be covered by someone else, along with marking. Is this an unforgivable thing to do? Has anyone else known this to happen (and what was the reaction)? When I was pregnant with DD I (like the few other Mums I know here) bent over backwards to not disrupt teaching. (In fact, I was still marking work beyond my due date, and agreed to mark exams when DD was 6 weeks old.) I'm certainly not going to push myself to do such things this time around, but I don't want to take the you-know-what. (I should add that I really like my colleagues, and feel awful thinking that someone may be dumped with this....)

dontrunwithscissors Thu 20-Aug-09 20:54:25


GibberingGinger Fri 21-Aug-09 20:55:38

I'm in academia too, but I only do research, no teaching so I can't really advise from my own experience. However you shouldn't beat yourself up about this. It sounds like you have been very reasonable in setting out your plans and explaining them to the Head of Dept. There is not much difference in someone having to cover 3 wks teaching etc, and then the marking, than there is 5 weeks teaching etc, then marking. In fact it might be better because then the person who is covering has more of an input and has a better grasp of the module when it comes to revision and marking etc. Its certainly not a unforgivable thing to do. Its just work, and these things happen and in the long run its the HoD's problem.

I can sympathise though. I rushed back after the birth of my daughter cause I didn't want to take the mick and hated the thought of my friends (collegues) having to cover for me and all the extra work it entailled for them. HOwever in hindsight I wish I prioritised myself and my daughter more.

Hope it all works out for you. Try not to stress about it, what will be, will be.

dontrunwithscissors Fri 21-Aug-09 22:21:36

Thanks for that encouragement. I had 'the conversation' with my HOD today and the suggestion was that I could 'double up' teaching sessions, thereby teaching the majority of the second module in the first half of the semester before I go. That got my back up, and I refused (isn't me agreeing to see one module through to the end for 'free' enough? If I did what he asked, I would be doing a semester's work for half of the pay). I'm not sure what will happen, but I'm trying to be tough and stand by my decision.

BoffinMum Mon 24-Aug-09 21:00:22

Really it's the responsibility of your line manager to organise the teaching, so don't beat yourself up over it and involve HR if necessary. However it is polite to write the module and make sure there is a nice fat file of resources ready for the person covering for you. One of my colleagues flounced off on maternity leave recently without doing this, leaving us all in the lurch, and it did not go down well, I can tell you.

It's time universities got used to the fact that they do now employ women, IMO. Even in this day and age it seems to come as a great shock to them, despite their protestations of equality of opportunity.

lazylion Fri 28-Aug-09 08:35:09

This just happened to me, I had to start maternity leave 2 weeks early because my blood pressure was going up, funnily enough as soon as I stopped teaching it went down.
The way I got round it was to ask a colleague to take over my teaching & marking (I gave her teaching materials) and then tell my head of dept (female). The reaction was frosty but it is sorted now and I'm sure by the time I go back (February) it will be forgotten.
I did feel terrible about it at the time though, mostly because I was anticipating the frosty reaction. Students haven't minded at all.
Doubling up is a terrible idea, why should you? You shouldn't increase your workload when pregnant. Could you present your head of dept with a willing colleague like I did - do you have any postgrad students about for example?

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