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Advice about leaving teaching

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by pepsi14, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. pepsi14

    pepsi14 New commenter

    I'm in my third year of teaching and although I love being in the classroom, the workload has always been a huge challenge (nothing surprising there!!). In my previous school, this was made even more difficult by terrible, unsupportive management. I looked for a job in a new school hoping that things would be different. I started at my new school in September and the management is fantastic but the workload is still insane, if not even worse than my previous job. I think this paired with the stress of moving to a new school, taking on a new role of responsibility in a new department, has really overwhelmed me.

    I've not been coping at all, and though I tried to keep everything bottled up and just get through the first half term, this half term has been awful. I've had meltdowns in school and have had to take sick days simply because I was too panicked/upset to go in. I went to the GP yesterday and have been signed off for two weeks for work related anxiety. My head of department has been as supportive as possible but there is only so much she can do.

    That's the background…my main question is that I decided a few weeks ago that I just can't be a teacher anymore. Moving to a new school has shown me that it wasn't just bad management, it's the job itself. I told myself I would wait it out until the end of the year but I now just don't know if I can wait that long.

    I don't want to leave at Easter and put the school in a difficult position / abandon my students, but at the same time I don't know if I can cope with this for another seven months. I also don't want to shoot myself in the foot in terms of trying to find a new job. Will it look bad to future employers if I leave this job at Easter, having worked here for less than a year? Would I get a bad reference? Thinking about all of these things, it seems like leaving at Easter isn't an option, but the thought of not being able to escape before then makes me feel even more anxious.

    Sorry for such a long post…any advice would be really appreciated!
    thethiefoftime likes this.
  2. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    People leave jobs for various reasons at various times, it need not affect any reference.
  3. thethiefoftime

    thethiefoftime Occasional commenter

    Please send me a PM as I have been in the same boat!

    Have you thought about what you would do instead? Do you have financial foundations to fall back on if there isn't a seamless transition from job to job?
  4. pepsi14

    pepsi14 New commenter

    I've had a lot of different ideas. A job in the charity sector would be great, working for an educational charity maybe but I'm not fussy. It would be nice to stay in the education sector somehow but really anything that's not teaching would be good at this stage. I wouldn't mind doing admin work as long as it wasn't too badly paid. There are some interesting options on jobs.ac.uk. If I don't get something straight away I think I'll be able to tide myself over for a while with tutoring.

    I'm not worried so much about what I'll move onto, my worry is whether leaving at Easter will have a negative impact.
    thethiefoftime likes this.
  5. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    I have been in exactly the same boat - didn't want to leave until the summer but having been signed off for a brief period with WRS accepted the offer of going at Easter after being at my new school for less than a year. Nobody batted an eyelid. The world outside teaching is a different ballgame and people join and leave jobs at all times of the year. I got a job in the charity sector and am loving it. I'm trusted to get on with the job, not micro-managed, treated as a professional etc. etc. The pay is not great but I can manage, and I have my life back. Even had the time to get back into studying. When you leave, do it professionally and if your reasons for leaving your job are because you want to find a career outside teaching that's as good a reason as any, so shouldn't affect references.
    Flere-Imsaho likes this.
  6. pepsi14

    pepsi14 New commenter

    Wow, I can't believe how similar our situations are - I even want to go into the same sector that you now work in!

    That makes me feel so much more at ease, thank you :) Can I ask what sort of role you have now and how you found it? I've been looking on different sites like Guardian jobs, etc, just to see what opportunities there are in the charity sector and the only thing that worries me is that lots of jobs seem to require experience in some really specific area. How did you get into it?

    Thank you!
  7. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Best way in is to be volunteering in a charity that focuses on an area of interest. You get a feel for how charities work and you are on the inside for any vacancies that come up. Even if they don't come up in your own charity if you have worked in any charity I think you stand a better chance in another one. Charities often network or share training too so you meet more in the same field. Could you tutor for a bit and do some voluntary work to get a foot in the door?
    bakisalmon likes this.
  8. pepsi14

    pepsi14 New commenter

    Thanks, that's really good advice. I'd have to look at finances carefully as I'd need a lot of tutoring hours to pay rent, but it could be possible for a month or so.
  9. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I agree with @monicabilongame about the importance of getting volunteering experience. A good proportion of the staff at my workplace gained employment that way. However in my organisation a month simply wouldn't cut it I'm afraid. It would take that long simply to begin your mandatory training and complete induction and we do look for a reasonably long term commitment given our client group and the expense of the training and DBS clearance.
    I've been with my company for nearly 12 years post teaching having begun at the bottom as a part time sessional employee.
  10. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Exactly, @monicabilongame !

    Nobody outside teaching would mind when you left. In fact, very few inside teaching would either, to be honest.

    Best wishes for a peaceful Christmastide

  11. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Failing that, think about doing supply, tutoring, shelf-stacking - anything that brings in money for a bit, while you set up what you really want to do. Teachers are (supposedly) good at multi-tasking, and there are a lot of people in the outside world who do more than one job to bring in the money.

    Once you are not teaching you will find you have far more free time in the evenings and weekends, so unless you're tied with small children, it's possible to do a workday week and still volunteer in the evenings or weekends. Also, if you can, be flexible about when you work - weekend shifts? Lates? Earlies? Days off in the week? (useful for volunteering or doing some sort of course). A lot of charities have educational departments so it might be a good idea to just do lots of research around different charities and how they are set up.
  12. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I would honestly say if you think you can make it to Easter, you may as well see out the year as you will lose year 11/ upper sixth and once you know you are leaving soon can start doing the minimum you can get away with!

    On the other hand, if you really think you cannot face going back, you might be able to negotiate an earlier release than Easter. I just think that Easter leaving in your situation is like spraining your ankle in the London Marathon after 5 miles and vouching to carry on until mile 23!
    TEA2111 likes this.
  13. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Tutoring is very rewarding but you're not going to make a lot of money out of it for a long time.
  14. ttxes12

    ttxes12 New commenter

    Pepsi, I have been in a similar position this year having spent 4 years at last school with lots of ups and downs and the promise it gets easier in terms of workload but In the end I decided that l wanted to leave teaching but was convinced to try another school first. New school is easier in terms of work load as i have dropped A level but behaviour is bad so now I can't teach. This has just confirmed that its not for me and In conclusion the job is impossible to do or maintain long term and every school has different pressures. I handed my notice in to leave at the end of this term after just 3 weeks as I couldn't face staying till Easter let alone summer. I feel so much better for making this decision. So whats my plan? Well I am lucky enough to have a partner to support me but I decided that I will do a bit of supply in January to bring a bit of money in, a few days here and there but at the same time look for jobs. That way I have the flexibility to start any job asap without being tied into a life sentence and not being able to get out till Easter. Yes I feel bad that I will leave the kids but realistically I haven't any loyalty to them having not known them very long and I need to think of myself. In terms of your situation I really don't think it'll look bad as to whether you leave at Easter or Summer do the job until then (Easter) and leave with your head held high and get your life back. You do not owe the school anything!!!! Yes they'll be left without a teacher but thats their problem and not yours. Life is to short, hand your notice in next week and start the new year getting you back!
  15. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    A word of caution about supply here
    Anecdotally it's evident from the supply forum that agency work this year in many areas is slow to non-existent
    It is casual work and only a source of very moderate and sporadic income. It has to be one of many strings to your bow and not the only job you have.

    Good luck with your new start.
  16. Godmeister

    Godmeister Occasional commenter

    I have to say, having left UK teaching 2 years ago, no one will actually care in the end if you leave at Easter or any other leaving date for that matter. I don't mean to sound harsh but I was in a similar situation myself in terms of not wanting to leave anyone in the lurch, but teachers leave all the time and nobody dies as a result. You have to think of your own wellbeing and what is right for you. I would, however, suggest that you have at least some plan of what you will do after you leave. I took several months to get things into place ready for my departure to ensure that I had something to go to once the final teaching day came and went.
    magic surf bus and scruff77 like this.
  17. scruff77

    scruff77 New commenter

    I left teaching a couple of years ago. I was quite resourceful in how I did it and have never looked back. It was the best decision of my life. You must start to think of yourself and keep at the back of your mind, that there is life outside teaching - something that many teachers don't believe.
  18. joannagb

    joannagb Occasional commenter

    I've left teaching and found something that works for me, I've pm-ed you an idea, might not be for you but probably worth a look.
  19. tawnyowl01

    tawnyowl01 New commenter

    I'm only in my third year of teaching but after much deliberation have decided teaching is not for me.

    For those who have left teaching, what reason did you give for your career change on application forms and on your CV? I don't want to come across unprofessional or negative by complaining about the workload etc. but I am struggling to put a positive twist on the situation.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
  20. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    The school won't be in a difficult position - they'll find a replacement. The students won't be abandoned, they'll be taught by your replacement and will adapt faster than you might like to believe. I know this because I've been the replacement for others in similar circumstances.

    I also left my two long term teaching posts at Easter and at Christmas and it had no impact on my references or future job prospects.

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