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If you have pre-school age children, itís unlikely youíll be able to drop them off much before 8am at the childminder or nursery, meaning you wonít be able to arrive in school as early as you might like or as early as other teachers who do not have family responsibilities.
If you are asked by your headteacher to take a school party on a trip over a period of several days, it is reasonable to say no if you donít feel you can leave a family member. Talk to your ATL school rep or branch secretary if you feel you are under pressure to go.
Applying for promotion
If you have very young children or specific care responsibilities, you might decide that you simply donít have time to apply for positions involving extra responsibility and workload. Although this may mean that younger and less experienced colleagues may Ďleapfrogí you and become more senior, remember that you are prioritising your family. When the time is right for you, you will be able to apply for promotion. When you do apply, youíll be able to cope better with a demanding role if you arenít under so much pressure at home.
If you have to take time off work to care for a sick family member
Most headteachers are fairly understanding if you have to take time off to care for a dependant who has a short illness, say of two or three days. If the illness is more serious, you will have to discuss the matter with your headteacher and consider taking unpaid leave.
Some LAs allow you to take a few days off each year to care for dependants Ė this is Ďcompassionate leaveí and can be used to care for any family member, not just a child.
For more information, see ATLís publication Family, work and you or talk to you ATL rep or branch secretary.
A final word
Finally, get your priorities right. You come first, then your family, then your work. Look after yourself by getting enough sleep, eating properly and making some time in the week to relax. Use friends and family as your support system, and consider hiring help such as a cleaner or a babysitter so that you arenít doing everything yourself. If you start feeling as if you canít cope, take action before the problem gets worse Ė see Stressed, exhausted and burnt-out.
Help and support
For further advice on this issue, ATL members can speak to their school rep, their branch secretary or their regional official. They can also call the London (020 7930 6441), Cardiff (029 2046 5000), Belfast (028 9078 2020) or Edinburgh (0131 272 2748) offices or email email@example.com
For out of hours enquiries, call the out of office hours helpline on 020 7782 1612 (Monday-Friday, 5-8pm during term time).
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