The MTPT Project welcomes its new blogger, Lucy Braidley (@Lucy_Braidley) who talks about how her CPD has developed over her three maternity leaves.

On the one hand, I’m new to this – this is my first blog for The MTPT Project and I’m just beginning to understand and find myself able to articulate what “maternity CPD” means to me, but on the other hand this is very familiar territory: I’m on maternity leave with my third baby and though I didn’t view it as CPD at the time, I’ve always used that time away from work to develop and reflect on my professional life.

Before having my first child, I wasn’t a teacher at all; I worked in marketing, and so becoming a mother and becoming a teacher are all very much intertwined for me. I’ve never known one without the other. Whilst I was on my first maternity leave I began volunteering at a local school to gain experience and applied for teacher training through the GTP route. On my second leave I read lots of really interesting education books and developed my mindset and outlook substantially, which

profoundly enriched my practice once I got back to school (more on that in a later blog post!)

And now the third, but this time I have a seven year old and a three year old to run about with, to enjoy spending time with and to tidy up after! Some days I come back from the school run, wash up and go back to bed, praying that the baby will stay asleep a little while longer. It feels very different this time round, but teaching is so much a part of who I am that I would feel out at sea if I didn’t make time to do, what I’m now coming to understand as, “maternity CPD”.

I live in rural Hampshire – not a hotbed of CPD opportunities for the Maternity or PaternityTeacher, so when a #WomenEd event popped up on Twitter just 30 minutes from my house, I signed up without a second thought. I had originally planned to leave my baby at home with his Dad but as the day drew closer I realised that was something that neither of us were ready for, so reluctantly I emailed the organiser Hannah (@TheHopefulHT) to say that I wouldn’t be needing my ticket. Thankfully she replied straight back inviting me to come with baby in tow… and I’m so glad that she did! I figured that even if I just got through the keynote speech by Kate Dethridge (@DethridgeKate) I’d have gained something, and I definitely benefited from that talk, and a whole lot more.

I attended some fantastic workshops around girls in STEM and family friendly schools (lead by the inspiring Emma, the “Original” MaternityTeacher) but my major take out from the day was that I was not quite the oddity I often feel like – that there was a whole network of women out there, who, although they were from a hugely diverse range of backgrounds and experience compared to myself, different in so many ways, were similar to me in many ways too. Similar in that they unashamedly valued their career; similar in that they wanted to find creative ways to successfully manage a teaching career and a family; similar in that they didn’t want to compromise on either, and above all similar in that they wanted to reach out and support the wider community of teachers to achieve their goals. I felt I didn’t need to explain myself in their presence and it was liberating.

Yes, I spent a lot of the time jiggling a baby and discretely wiping sick of my shoulder. Yes, I lost his special baby blanket and had to go back and retrieve it the following day after a series of panicked emails (thanks again Hannah!), but for me it was still an overwhelmingly positive experience and one that I would recommend.

As always, The MTPT Project are so grateful for the networking opportunities and inclusivity modelled by WomenEd.  Check them out on Twitter @WomenEd #WomenEd