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Reception year teacher on maternity leave - should we be worried?

(46 Posts)
laurenceneville Mon 18-Jul-11 10:50:12

Our eldest son is due to start reception in September. The school has just told us his teacher is pregnant and (presumably) will be going on maternity leave from about Christmas until the end of the school year the following summer.
Given the importance of the reception year for children?s approach to learning and school, what effect do you expect a change of teacher (and the possibility of more than one teacher over the year) will have on pupils? development and outcomes?
Should we be looking for an alternative school?

admission Mon 18-Jul-11 10:56:40

No you should not be looking for an alternate school. I would expect the school to make an appropriate short term appointment and it could well be that having two different teachers will improve the pupil's development and outcomes, not hinder it.

MMQC Mon 18-Jul-11 11:01:09

A different teacher can also be a plus! My son's teacher went on maternity leave in his third term of reception and the replacement was fabulous! Unfortunately, she herself then went on maternity leave and he ended up with another two different teachers on a part time basis when he hit year one.

He seems remarkably unscathed! I wouldn't worry ...

piprabbit Mon 18-Jul-11 11:05:01

What if you were to choose an alternative school - only to find that there maternity/long term sickness/ issues there too?

As primary schools are staffed (in the main) by women of child-bearing age, there are always teachers going or returning. Which does mean that the school should have experience on how to minimise the impact on children.

You will need to start trust that the school you have chosen has the best interests of the children at heart and will be working hard to support them - know matter who their teacher is.

everlong Mon 18-Jul-11 11:30:42

Was the teacher a selling point of the school for you?

This happened to me with my youngest ds. A week into reception we were told that one of the teachers ( job share ) was pregnant and leaving at x mas. Cue quite a few parents being upset. Worse was to come though. A week later the other teacher then went off on sick leave ( she was pregnant too but they didn't tell us for months ) this was very unsettling for parents and children, she never came back.

A lot of parents had been 'sold' these two teachers, they were/are very good teachers, warm and vibrant and the children love them ( have older dc at school )

After a while this was sorted out and the class was taught by two different teachers. I think things settled down and the children have come on.

I moved ds to private after xmas though. Not just for this issue, but I think this did have a part in moving him.

Who are they replacing her with?

StitchingMoss Mon 18-Jul-11 11:36:34

Do private school teachers not get pg then? confused

GooseyLoosey Mon 18-Jul-11 11:39:21

Don't think the change in teacher should be a problem.

The only cautionary note I would sound is about the possible quality of any temporary replacement. When dd's fabulous Yr 1 teacher went on mat leave, she was replaced by a temporary NQ teacher who simply lacked the experience to do as good a job and it showed by the end of the year.

2gorgeousboys Mon 18-Jul-11 11:44:13

A few weeks after DS2 started school we were told the fantastic reception and year 1 (mixed class) teacher was going on maternity leave. She left at Christmas and came back the January he was in year 1.

The replacement teacher was an NQT and DS2 slowly slipped backwards during the year. We were told he had behavioural issues and potential SN. When the fab teacher returned from mat leave she could not belive the non existent progress DS2 had made but between home and school we worked really hard to get him back on track, he is now finishing year 2.

I would say that in itself maternity cover would not worry me however I would like with any new teacher keep a close eye and raise any concerns with the school.

Good luck smile

laurenceneville Mon 18-Jul-11 11:54:30

The reception teacher was a selling point - she's got a fantastic reputation. We've not been told about a replacement or even how they'll be selecting one. We moved specifically to get into this school and two years on (with ds just about to start) we can't help but be disappointed.
We're just worried that the teaching won't be as good as we hoped and ds won't be enthused about school as we hoped. We're now looking at a private alternative but provided the school can provide some reassurance about quality of teaching, continuity, etc then we would like to keep him there. So far, no info from the school though.

delphinedownunder Mon 18-Jul-11 11:59:34

Oh my goodness shock, a teacher having a life! The very idea! All sorts of things happen to teachers to take them out of the classroom - babies, illness, death of parents/ spouse, even opportunities for further study and sabbaticals - the head will ensure a suitable replacement and decent terms and conditions, good pay and a high quality and rigorous teacher education programme will ensure good quality teachers as a matter of course rather than a matter of good luck. It's the latter three things you should be worrying about.

DragonAlley Mon 18-Jul-11 12:03:31

If you choose a school on the basis of the reception teacher you're rather naive, to be honest.

DragonAlley Mon 18-Jul-11 12:04:30

Oh,and from experience, I don't think reception is that important in shaping a child's approach to learning.

SpottyFrock Mon 18-Jul-11 12:07:51

I understand you're disappointed but women of child-bearing age can and do become pregnant! Schools cope with maternity leaves all the time and it would be unreasonable of you to be annoyed with the school about it and therefore send your DS somewhere else. And of course, unless you chose a school with a reception teacher of 50+ then you run the same risk each time.

A good school will make sure they employ a teacher for the 2 remainling terms and probably the 1st term of next year as the teacher could well be off for the year. It is far easier for a school to attract a good quality teacher on a long term mat leave than it is for unquantifiable sick leave. Many schools will also opt to move an experienced teacher from elsewhere in the school into the Reception class to provide continuity from Sept rather than the children have the change at Christmas.

However, change is by no means a bad thing. Teachers get pregnant and move jobs both can happen mid-year and the kids are very adaptable; often more so than the parents. Some years kids have job share teachers and so change on a Wed, say. These also work well and the kids get the broader experience.

What I'm trying to say is that as long as the school handle it well (which most do) then I don't think you have anything to worry about!

ScarletOHaHa Mon 18-Jul-11 12:08:47

I wouldn't be worried my DS starts reception in Sept.
If the class has teaching assistants, they will hopefully remain the same.

SpottyFrock Mon 18-Jul-11 12:10:14

Oh and re no info from school; I would say that if she'd due in January then she has probably just informed the HT now which is why they can't give you more details re replacemnent etc. You should take it as a good sign that they are willing to share the info with you now, right at the end of term rather than announce it early on in Sept.

trifling Mon 18-Jul-11 12:14:00

It's not a great idea to move purely for one teacher's reputation. If it's a decent school they should ensure a good replacement. My child's class has been at the rough end of a lot of teacher change this year and it has certainly affected them badly, but mostly because the school handled it incompetnetly. Once they got a solid replacement it has been fine. I think at this point you have to trust the school to find a replacement;it's not your job to secondguess how they manage the school, and pregnant teachers are hardly an unusual problem.

laurenceneville Mon 18-Jul-11 12:16:14

DragonAlley, I didn't choose the school on the reputation of the reception teacher - I chose it on the reputation/reports of the school: the reputation of the reception teacher was just a bonus.
I fully appreciate that of course teachers will have babies - the issue is whether the school reacts as we would hope (i.e. choosing a single teacher to teach five days a week for the entire period she's away rather than multiple substitute teachers) and whether it really makes any difference in the grand scheme of things.
The teaching assistant will remain the same.

SpottyFrock Mon 18-Jul-11 12:36:22

The school will certainly want one teacher to cover the entire mat leave as it's better for the school both practically and financially. You will also find that in a good school, the TA is treated like a second teacher esp by the children so having that continuity will be good.

If they have as good a reputation as you say then I can't see it being a problem. Try not to worry. smile

everlong Mon 18-Jul-11 12:38:25

I disagree dragon I think reception is important and the stamp it will make on your dc's attitude to learning, socialising and settling into school life.

OP I would ring the school before it closes for summer and ask what arrangements are in place, hopefully they will allay your fears.

funnypeculiar Mon 18-Jul-11 12:44:17

If you want to know what's happening - ask the school, don't stew on it all over the summer. If they are a good school, they'll manage the change over fine, BUT many good schools don't communicate info as early as parents (esp first time reception parents smile) would like. if in doubt, ask.

hopenglory Mon 18-Jul-11 12:46:17

Sorry, but why should the school be telling you about how they intend to select a replacement teacher? If it's such a fantastic school that you would move to get a place then trust the Head and Governors to do their jobs

SenoritaViva Mon 18-Jul-11 12:49:58

If they've just announced her pregnancy they won't have advertised or appointed a replacement yet so of course you won't have 'heard anything'. Nor will they inform you of the process which they go through, although you might see the position advertised in the school newsletter etc. If the school is good they will attract good applicants and I'm sure they'll make the right decision.

You might be disappointed but really, don't be worry about something until it comes about. Enjoy the school holidays instead.

Bunbaker Mon 18-Jul-11 12:51:16

I really don't think you need to worry. DD's teacher started maternity leave half way through her first year and it made no difference at all. The TA stayed the same and the temporary teacher was lovely.

surfandturf Mon 18-Jul-11 12:54:28

No, I don't think you should be worried. I think you are being a little bit precious! My eldest finishes reception next week - for the past year he has had 2 teachers doing a job share and although this has been a stable arrangement throughout the year (so slightly different to your situation) he's been fine. The uproar amongst parents when they found out that there would be 2 teachers was unfounded. Although learning is important at this age I feel that reception class is equally as important for getting the children used to the school environment, the daily school routine and settling in with their peers and teachers (whether there is one or more). If you become worried about this minor situation, your DC will pick up on your anxiety. It may be that part way through the school year a new teacher with a different approach will be just what your child needs to keep their attention and help them progress more rather than become complacent. Children are much more resilient annd adaptable than we often give them credit for.

Peachy Mon 18-Jul-11 12:56:25

It's random chance, ds1 started school with apregnant teacher and it was one of his best eyars.

OTOH ds2 has had 7 changes of teahcer in year 5 (a total of 5 teachers I think), the Head admits no progress has been amde and it's been a disastr: but again it was pure chance, pregnancies / sickness / someone leaving for personal reasons.

The post may be ceovered by a staff member already there (we've ahd part timers upgraded to FT for this purpose) or via an agency. Otherwise look on the council jobs website but they won't inform you.

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