Thank you for the work you are doing. You are heroes. This is my story: Pregnant then (repeatedly) screwed. This week I had to take time off work as my toddler was unwell, definitely infectious and couldn’t go to nursery. The leave policy says family leave has to be taken unpaid, which seems in line with the law. I could get on my soap box about how that needs to change, but right now I’m focused on a more immediate injustice. As teacher, I am still expected to do the majority of my work even if I am off. This week, that involved planning all ‘my’ lessons for a cover teacher to deliver, marking 150 exam papers, inputting the data of 120 children’s grades and reports to meet a deadline before I’m next in work, rearranging a meeting and planning all my lessons for next week. In total, I’ve done 20 hours work in my evenings and weekend and lost two day’s pay (not to mention my lunch break next Monday) for my trouble. Surely this cannot be ok? Surely I am not the only one fuming about this? What makes me even more angry is that school management calls itself ‘woke’, no one seems to think this is unfair and I’ve had several comments that I am ‘lucky’ to be able to take time off to look after my sick child. Clearly they have never spent a day trying to look after vomiting toddler, then worked half the night to ‘make up for it’ before repeating the experience the following day. It’s taken me the best part of 2 years to get some degree of confidence back after effectively being forced into a demotion following my maternity leave. I blamed myself, for believing the usual HR nonsense: ‘We can’t accommodate your part time working request’, ‘Our policy states that no job shares will be considered at your pay grade’, ‘You could keep your leadership role if you think you can do it all in 4 days’ and so on. I briefly considered that last offer, until I realised I’d be getting 4 days pay but keeping all of my responsibility, which would realistically end up with me working the 5th day at home for free. In the end, I agreed to go back part time, demoted. I was a shadow of my former self. I blamed myself for being weak and I felt I should have fought harder, but at the time I felt vulnerable and couldn’t face going to tribunal whilst suffering from hyperemesis and perinatal anxiety. I felt utterly worthless and like my decade in the job counted for nothing. After a course of medication, some therapy and a couple of years of reflection, I felt a little better, having convinced my school to review it’s flexible working policy, so hopefully this won’t happen to others. This week, though my blood is boiling. I wonder how many parents (and I’m sure mothers are disproportionately represented) are working for free to make sure their children are safe, adequately cared for and not spreading covid, chickenpox or norovirus. I’m even more furious that whilst I am fortunate to be able to afford this financially, a lot of female teachers are not. I wonder if this situation spreads into other professions as well. I bet it does.