In May, the Department for Education announced that £5million will be put into a fund for teachers in England. The idea is that this can provide financial support for teachers to take a sabbatical for up to a year, doing something which relates to education. (More information on the proposed scheme is explained here.)
I think that this is long overdue. When I took an 8 month break between teaching jobs to travel, I met many teachers doing the same thing, but one teacher stood out as unique as she was taking a sabbatical year from teaching in Ireland. After working for at least a year for a single employer, teachers in Ireland can apply for a career break of a year, and they are guaranteed to be able to return to their job upon return. This seemed like a fantastic idea, as whilst I had had to give up my job to take a careers break, she was able to travel the world knowing that she had a secure job to go back to.
In a time where schools are in crisis due to teacher retention, I am wholly in favour of any scheme which can allow teachers to recharge and refresh so that they can retain the stamina and enthusiasm needed for a long career in the profession. I also think that allowing teachers new and different ways to develop themselves professionally will encourage respect for the profession, and encourage us to innovate more and think creatively about ways to approach teaching that we may not have come across before.
Whilst this fund will provide only a small number of sabbaticals to begin with, I hope that the system that the government use to measure the success will show the benefits of a scheme such as this so that it can be rolled out further. Perhaps then we may begin to see respect for the profession and the retention of much-valued teachers begin to increase.