March 6 In the Press

Nuala O'Donnell urging schools to make classrooms menopause friendly

INTO to urge principals to make NI classrooms menopause friendly


PRINCIPALS across Northern Ireland will be urged today (Friday, March 6) to make schools and classrooms more menopause friendly in order to support teachers and help prevent them leaving their professions.

A motion, which will be put forward at this weekend’s INTO Northern Conference at the Canal Court Hotel in Newry, will call on the INTO to negotiate with employers on a range of measures including putting in place an agreed policy on supporting menopause in classrooms.

Senior Official, Nuala O’Donnell, said supporting teachers going through the menopause is vital and said schools need to implement menopause friendly policies as a significant majority of teachers are female and are likely to go through menopause at some point in their careers.

Speaking ahead of conference, Ms O’Donnell, said: “In a 2018 ICTU survey about the menopause, it was revealed that of the women who had direct experience of the menopause, nearly half of those surveyed felt that it was treated negatively in their workplace while over 50 per cent reported witnessing the menopause as being treated as a joke.

“The menopause is not a joke and it’s about time all schools made sure support measures are in place for teachers. This is an occupational health issue for women teachers and it’s also  an equality issue and should be treated sensitively and supportivly.”

Ms O’Donnell said more women teachers, than ever before, are working into later life for a variety of reasons, including the raising of the retirement age.

She added: “In a female-dominated profession such as teaching, supporting women who are teaching, while at the same time experiencing symptoms of the menopause, should feature high on any school leader’s agenda. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

“The INTO is very aware of the struggle women face when experiencing the menopause. This is a natural cycle in a woman’s life and we are calling for principals to act now if they haven’t already done so.

” Many female teachers feel uncomfortable talking about their situation, perhaps because they are afraid of encountering sexist and ageist attitudes towards women, the menopause and female ageing in their workplaces. This has to stop and so we will be negotiating with employers on a range of measures which will support our teachers going through this stage in their life. This includes training principals and Boards of Governors to ensure menopausal symptoms for teachers are not made worse by the workplace and / or its work practices. This training would also enable them to make positive changes to help a teacher manage their symptoms when doing their job.”



  • INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. It is the largest teachers’ union in Ireland. INTO has a Northern Office and a Southern Office. The Northern Office is based at Vere Foster House, 23 College Gardens, Belfast.
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