A year after she first discovered the MTPT Project, Frances Ashton (@FKAEnglish) reflects on what it has brought her.

HELMER: First and foremost, you are a wife and mother.

NORA: That I don’t believe any more. I believe that first and foremost I am an individual, just as you are.

A Doll’s House- Henrik Ibsen

This September I will return to work stronger than I was before. I’ll have reading to share, opinions to offer at the table and confidence that I can keep up in a time of rapid change. The vast majority of this is thanks to the MTPT project.

On the brink of starting my second maternity leave, I found myself searching for ways to keep myself professionally active whilst I was away from a school. A Google search lead me to the MTPT Project and what it offered me was priceless. A community of likeminded, ambitious parents who saw no end to career development at the dawning of parenthood. It felt incredibly gratifying to find such acceptance for my determination to press on and continue learning while I was at home raising my daughters

My ultimate aim is to apply for an Assistant Head post this coming year and I had worried that having spent my most recent academic year away from school, I wouldn’t have as much immediate experience to draw on as my potential competitors. But the truth is that thanks to the MTPT project, I feel galvanised. After 6 years of teaching and 2 years raising daughters, I have had to time to refine my teaching practice as well as develop essential skills in organisation, public speaking, resilience and my understanding of current education theory. I have learnt an enormous amount and feel more passionately than ever that the time parents spend away from school should be acknowledged and accredited for the skills and understanding it can afford.

At the end of Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’, Nora tries to define herself as a person for the first time, divorced from the socially enforced expectations of motherhood and marriage. Her assertion that she has a ‘duty to herself’ is at the heart of the what the MTPT Project promotes. Parenthood is a blessing, a joy, a challenge and job and in order to negotiate it successfully, we must look after ourselves. Our aims, ambitions, skills and professional aspirations included.

As I return to work, I will be blogging less, but remaining an advocate for everything the MTPT Project stands for. Choice, ambition and community. No guilt, no judgement.