Time to Rethink

Further Education ITT Lecturer and mother of two, Kayte Haselgrove (@EduKayte) explains how her experience of becoming a mother of two prompted her to rethink and evolve her career, whilst balancing her ambitions around her new priorities as a parent.

This case study comes with a trigger warning: it includes brief details of pregnancy loss, which some readers may find upsetting.

In 2016, I was successful in obtaining my first management post, Head of Department in English and Maths. Prior to starting the role, my husband and I had decided it was time to start a family. We tried for a baby and then all of a sudden I was offered an interview, and ultimately, the job. I couldn’t believe I had secured such a post and, as a result, we decided to put the family on hold for a little while. At this time I was studying a Masters in Education, specialising in leadership and management. 

Then two months into the job I started to feel a little unwell… you guessed it, it turned out that that one attempt at pregnancy had worked!  Work were very supportive – a little shocked – but if they were 

frustrated, they never showed it. Sadly, 17 weeks down the line my waters broke and the baby didn’t survive. I’m including this in my story, because this life changing event was the catalyst for my career ambitions moving forward.  

After a little time to recover, I returned to work and took on the new job role, threw myself into it, while secretly harbouring a desperation to become a mother. After four of the longest months in my life, I was pregnant again and this time we were lucky enough to have a healthy baby girl. While I was pregnant, I knew that this new role was no longer for me. My career didn’t come first anymore, my need to be a mother did. So, while I was on maternity leave I finished the leadership section of my MA and planned to take a different route in my fourth module, the Research Module, which prepared for my dissertation. I wanted to focus on professional development: it was time to refocus my energies on the training and mentoring I did with the Education and Training Foundation, instead of continuing in developing my knowledge around leadership and management.  Luckily for me, I worked in a college who were supportive of my need to find a different type of work life balance and they came up with an equally beneficial solution. They created a new post for me as CPD and Learning Manager. My background working as a consultant and as CPD lead for English and Maths in a previous college meant that this fitted perfectly with my interests, as well as the college’s needs, and they were happy for the job to be just three days a week. So, while on my first maternity leave, I saw my opportunity to change my research project from one of leadership and management, to one on professional development, specifically working with Advanced Practitioners (who I line managed in my new role) and I completed the unit as my daughter napped or slept in the evening. I never, ever worked while she was awake. That was my rule. 

On my return I was able to complete my research project in my new post, developing outstanding teachers to be excellent Advanced Practitioners, and I also took on the role of Head of Department for Teacher Training. A year later I was pregnant with my baby boy. Another child on the way, a pandemic hitting the world, and I had another rethink. I missed the classroom and I didn’t need the responsibility of management any more. During this maternity leave I looked in to completing my QTLS with the Education and Training Foundation, which would mean I could work in a university as a teacher trainer, should the opportunity arise. 

QTLS is a professional formation, it has parity with QTS and allows Further Education specialist lecturers to teach in schools and on teacher training programmes in universities. This qualification was trickier, as you had to be teaching to complete it and I was on maternity leave. In order to achieve it, I committed to some teacher training delivery using my keep in touch (KIT) days which led up to my return to work and my husband (who was furloughed) was able to take care of our son while I engaged in my professional formation. This particular accolade is earned through evidencing development in areas of the Education and Training Foundation professional standards. I chose to focus on promoting the use of learning technology and supporting learners in its use. Little did I know how invaluable this knowledge would be when I returned to work. While on maternity, I was interviewed and successful in obtaining a part time post as a Post 14 FE and Skills Lecturer at a university. My dream job.  

Without the level 7 work I completed during my first maternity leave and the QTLS I completed in the second, I wouldn’t have even got through the first page of the application. I am grateful for the time I was able to dedicate to my own professional development during maternity leave, it has contributed greatly to shaping the person, the professional, and the mother I am today.