Volunteering is a great way to develop your expertise in a specific area as well as avoid the potential legal issues surrounding paid work and statutory maternity pay.
You can either volunteer simply to give back to a cause that sparks your professional interests, or use a coaching conversation to understand how volunteering commitments can efficiently tie in with your wider CPD goals. Why not consider some of the options below to start your thought process?
Recent Classroom Experience
According to National College for Teaching and Leadership, ‘lack of recent classroom experience’ is one of the primary reasons that school leaders hesitate to recruit teachers with a gap of a year or more on their CVs.
There are lots of reasons that a parent might choose to take more than twelve months of parental leave: to spend time with their new families, to balance the costs of childcare, or to safeguard their own wellbeing during what can be a demanding and consuming time. There also might be a lot of reasons why a teacher taking their twelve months of parental leave might want to apply for a position in a different school: promotion opportunities, reduction of responsibilities, shorter commute, a more family friendly culture.
It seems silly that ‘lack of classroom experience’ should be a barrier to these experienced and valued practitioners, but according to the Policy Exchange, 27% of the teachers leaving the classroom each year are women aged 30-39.
One way we can support those interested in returning to the classroom is to arrange regular volunteering days where they can come into school and support in class, or even lead groups of learners. The Maternity or PaternityTeacher benefits from an enhanced CV, and the hosting school benefits from an extra body in the classroom and all the expertise they can bring with them.
VOLO: our official volunteering partners in London
VOLO have a number of roles that could provide valuable hands-on experience to explore your CPD goals, including opportunities with NAPAC, Royal London Society for Blind People, Teach First, Place2Be, Kent Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company, and The Winch.
Browse through the roles currently available on their website and register to be put into contact with charities and organisations that would be happy to discuss your specific MaternityTeacher or PaternityTeacher needs.
Whilst volunteering is a fantastic way simply to give back to a local or global community, it is also mutually beneficial to you as a teacher. Consider volunteering with Beanstalk for London, for example, as a way to explore issues pertaining to whole school literacy, or mentoring girls and their mothers with Mosaic Mentoring to enhance your understanding of gender-related pastoral issues.
What is fantastic about VOLO is that you will be volunteering through a recognised organisation, and so these hours can be put on your CPD as a valued and known CPD experience.
Why not find out how volunteering (i.e. not using your KIT days) at either your own school, or schools in your local area could function as strategic CPD. Gaining a better understanding of different types of schools, phases or subjects could be invaluable experience.
Read Dawn Stow’s story for some inspiration and to find out how volunteering with Year 11 students lead to new opportunities.
Chris Chivers also provides a thorough step-by-step guide to running after school clubs and potential parental involvement. Could this be the opportunity for you to use one of your skills or interests to gain recent school experience to prepare you for your return to the classroom?
Your Children’s Futures
In her blog ‘Comprehensive Teacher, Grammar Mother?’, the original MaternityTeacher explored how volunteering in your current workplace, or in your local school could make a significant impact on the educational community your local area is able to provide for your own child, as well as equipping you with valuable CPD experience for your own career.
Why not discuss your skill sets or areas of interest with your Principal, Line Manager or HR contact at your local primary or secondary school to see how you could use small amounts of your time whilst on parental leave to give yourself more choice as a parent in the future.