Older women teachers 'singled out for sack while they go through menopause'


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The Independent Online

Older women teachers are being singled out for the sack while they go through the menopause, teachers' leaders declared on Sunday.

Delegates to the National Union of Teachers annual conference in Brighton heard there was "an increasing trend" towards targeting teachers over 50 for dismissal - either on grounds of a lack of competence or through redundancies.

Nicky Downes, from Coventry, told the conference:"I've met many women through casework who are going through the same thing. Suddenly, they are judged to be inadequate despite being told a year before how outstanding they were."

Schools had a responsibility to take into account the difficulties women suffered through the menopause - including hot flushes, headaches and the need for access to cold drinking water and toilet facilities.

Philippa Dowswell, from Waltham Forest, added that Education Secretary Michael Gove's "model teacher" was "cheap, compliant and data driven" whereas older teachers tended to be "expensive, non-compliant and child centred".

However, Jan Nielsen, from Wandsworth, argued against the motion for singling out older women going through the menopause.  "I think we need a motion praises the virtues of older teachers rather than sees us as a victim of our hormones," she added.

She said nowadays political pressures pinpointed older women as a problem - rather than as possessing "wisdom and experience" as had been the case in previous years.