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Phased return to work help - Education

Confused Meanderings

Re: Phased return to work help - Education


Years ago I had a phased return to work after the removal of a benign tumour on my spine. I taught afternoons only for a week - the thinking being that they were not as intensive for planning and marking as the morning sessions. Then I did mornings only for a week. Next I was full time for a week, which took me up to half term. I also didn't teach PE for a couple of months - I swapped classes with a colleague


Re: Phased return to work help - Education


Thanks for your reply. My last chemo should be on the 1st February then I'm set for 5 sessions of radiotherapy 4 weeks later. By March I will be on half pay which means I will need to begin dipping into my savings to afford to live. 

The summer term begins on the 25th April so that gives me approximately 7 weeks recovery time after RT has finished. That half term is 5 weeks long so I'd like to start slow, build up to maybe fulltime the week before May half term knowing I have a weeks holiday to recuperate if I'm feeling tired. It's then 6 weeks to the end of the school year. 

My savings could  stretch but I'm reluctant to really do that. I really need to get back to work for my own sanity, I'm bored to tears at home and by the Spring I know I'll feel even worse, particularly if I'm recovering well and beginning to feel more myself. 

My headteacher will be on board with Covid risks hence why I think he will have me teaching booster groups to limit my contacts. 

Im trying to be positive and fill my good days with walking, reading, jigsaws, catching up on TV and films I've missed but it's very dull.


Re: Phased return to work help - Education

Hi Louby_lou

I think it’s very courageous for you to consider a return to teaching after Easter. In one way, I can see it will help build your confidence, ready for your next year group in September. But do listen to your oncologist’s advice before Occupational Health. Covid really does muddy the waters and you are going into the age group with the highest current infection rate. Maybe by March, all the little ones will have had it, spread it to their families and everyone has immunity. We can hope!

You say your active treatment finishes in March. Is this chemo/radiotherapy? If it is, you may well find that March is too soon to return to work. Radiotherapy has a knack of building up after treatment so, about two weeks later, you feel it working - and this often causes significant fatigue. It might be an idea to discuss all this with the hospital before you talk to Occupational health so you have a better idea of how you will feel - it’s completely unpredictable, I’m afraid.

I did a phased return before they became accepted practice. The head simply continued to employ the supply teacher who’d been doing my job for 8 months. This gave me the freedom to choose which classes I would start with and know that, if I wasn’t up to it, someone could take over. It worked well but I agreed to continue on half-pay during this time. It seemed fair - I was only doing part of the job (secondary, up to A level). You really do need to spell out your anxieties and you ideas - they may well be accepted, but stand firm if they aren’t. Don’t go back into an environment that doesn’t feel safe for you until you feel ready. Occupational health is there to support, not bully you, into a return to work.

Of course, this is only my opinion. There are members of the forums who have continued to work throughout and who might well say go for it but I remember not only my radiotherapy fatigue but, much further back, just how scary it felt to go back onto the classroom and keep your mind on 20 things at once after a long break.

Best of luck xx


Phased return to work help - Education

I'm an experienced teacher on UPS3 and have been teaching fulltime since 1996. Supported by my school really well. I teach KS1 usually and have two teachers currently covering my Year 2 class. I've been off since the start of the academic year, so have not taught this class at all.

My active treatment should end in March and I'm hoping to go back to work after Easter.

Occupational health spoke to me in September where the Dr advised I couldn't work because of treatment and Covid, he's going to ring me again in Feb/March time with a view to discussing my phased return to work.

Has anyone had experience of negotiating a phased return to work at all within school?  I don't want to teach a class initially as my confidence is really knocked and I need to build that up again.

Can I suggest shorter days, building up to longer? I'm thinking that my head will suggest me teaching small booster groups initially but moving onto teaching a class occasionally but until closer to the time I won't really know.

If anyone has any experience of this I'd be glad to hear what you did.