Heads urged to make schools menopause-friendly

The headmistress of a girls’ school believes more support for women going through the menopause will help retain teaching staff

The headmistress of a private girls’ school has said menopause-friendly policies are vital to help retain and recruit teachers.

Nicky Botterill from Bruton School for Girls spoke to other headteachers at the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) conference, which is running from 18-19 November.

Botterill believes schools need to give women more support as many women going through the menopause have considered leaving their jobs, and many have left.

There are now five million working women aged between 45 and 60 (with the average age for the menopause transition 51) and women over the age of 50 have become the fastest growing demographic in the workforce (ONS 2018).

Botterill suggested a number of steps schools can take including implementing a specific menopause policy which provides support for individual members of staff who require assistance, giving individual employees control over their immediate working environments such as temperature and providing points of contact or ‘buddies’ women can go to for advice, such as individual trained volunteers.

Botterill said: “As leaders of girls’ schools, I believe we owe it to ourselves, to our staff and the girls we educate to be at the forefront of changes to support working women. We need to retain the best talent within the teaching profession, to nurture women in leadership positions and to properly prepare our girls for the world of work.

We need to retain the best talent within the teaching profession, to nurture women in leadership positions and to properly prepare our girls for the world of work

“This includes educating today’s girls about the menopause as well as introducing menopause-friendly policies to schools as well as working environments.”

At Avon and Somerset Police, women make up nearly half the workforce, with 34% over the age of 46.

The police force generates awareness of menopause-related issues through workshops, annual webchats, a menopause day stall and blogs, and they are about to launch [next week] new toolkits for managers and those experiencing symptoms as well as joint workshops with the fire service over the winter.

They also have volunteer single points of contact (‘spocs’) who are trained to respond to anyone who needs advice.

Inspector Julie Knight is one of the trained volunteer ‘spocs’.

She said: “As more women go through the menopause during their working lives, it’s vital that employers encourage open discussions to ensure they get the right support to fulfil their moral and legal duties to their staff.”