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Written by The MTPT Project

The UK’s only charity for parent teachers, with a particular focus on the parental leave and return to work period.

Mothers’ Day always falls conveniently close to International Women’s Day and this year’s theme, #ChoosetoChallenge provides the perfect opportunity for The MTPT Project to showcase all the ways that our community members have challenged limiting stereotypes associated with parenthood.

 

Does a woman ‘leave before she leaves’, as so well explored in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In?  Not, according to Madeleine Fresko-Brown, North London and Jewish Teachers’ Advocate for The MTPT Project.  Madeleine interviewed, very obviously eight months pregnant, for her first SLT position before the birth of her first daughter, and has since stepped in and out of her role over a second maternity leave, building and sustaining effective models to secure the best leadership for her colleagues and students.

 

Does a woman lose all ambition when she becomes a mother?  Not, according to Nadine Bernard, Head Teacher of Van Gogh Primary School, committed to coaching and mentoring aspiring principals and speaking up on the topic of exclusions and BAME leadership.  Nadine returned from her third maternity leave this year and her social media accounts are an inspiring showcase of balance of personal and professional ambition.

 

Are all women natural, fertile earth mothers who sneeze and become pregnant?  Not, as championed by The MTPT Project’s Fertility Advocate, Nicola Mooney, who speaks openly about her IVF journey, the practical logistics of trying for a family, and the ways in which schools can support teachers through this process.  Or Adoption Advocate, Alex Mason who speaks candidly and confidently about adopting and her experiences of adoption leave as a parent-teacher.

 

Do all mothers require part-time hours in order to balance their personal and professional commitments?  Not, according to Naomi Shenton, Ipswich Regional Representative for The MTPT Project who works full time as an Assistant Head Teacher, authoring chapters for the second #WomenEd book, Being 10% Braver and championing family-friendly practices in her school.

 

Equally, does the need to work flexibly in order to be present for our children indicate a lack of commitment or ability to fulfil leadership roles?  Not, according to Liz Robinson and Nicola Noble who, for years, courageously provided an avant-garde model for co-headship, unashamedly pursuing fulfilment as school leaders and mothers, way before the recent positive trend towards flexible working.

 

Are all mothers the full time care-givers?  Not, according to Jenny Webb, Trustee for The MTPT Project, Assistant Head Teacher, CPD provider and author of three edu-texts who regularly explains the teamwork between her and her husband who acts as the main caregiver around his own career in the arts industry. 

 

Is our current model of parental leave inclusive and empowering of all parents?  Not, according to Iesha Small only entitled to paternity leave as a Maths teacher when her wife gave birth to all three of their children, or Chris Reddy, who surprised his colleagues when he took five weeks paternity leave to be present in the early days of his sons’ lives.

 

At The MTPT Project, we #ChoosetoChallenge the assumptions and biases that society still attaches to the role of motherhood and parenting so that our teachers are not limited by oppressive stereotypes and disempowering systems.  Instead, we encourage teachers to make choices that work for them and their families, and celebrate their successes – both at home and in the classroom.

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