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If I sign a teaching contract will I be able to change my mind if I haven't started working yet?

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by Rebeccagoss14, May 27, 2020.

  1. Evening all,

    I have recently seen a job offer in my local area for a PPA teacher. The hours are great, it's consistent and it's better than my current situation. However, I am applying for other jobs that would enable me to have my own classroom, as this is the dream.

    I was wondering that if I was in a situation where I had been offered the PPA job, signed a contract and then another school came forward with a better opportunity, would I be able to break my contract considering that I haven't worked for them yet?
  2. Owleyes00

    Owleyes00 New commenter


    It’s not a great look and will annoy the first school I’m sure but you won’t be the first person to do it and you won’t be the last either. Technically there is probably some legal enforceability people with more legal knowledge than me could tell you about but they would be very very very unlikely to bother with this. Why would anyone want to work that hard to make someone who doesn’t want to work their work there? It’s the same as people who don’t work their notice period. Nothing actually happens to them apart from maybe not a very good reference but you won’t need to worry about that because you won’t have worked there.

    It’s probably a moot point anyway, lots of places don’t give you your contract until you actually start working there and you haven’t even been offered the job yet!
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter



    Even a verbal acceptance has contractual force. Accepting by writing a letter of email has contractual force and proof. The signing of the "contract" can be presented to you up to 2 months after you've actually started work with an employer.

    What the above poster is saying is that they can't do much to you if you do break your contractual agreement because you've been offered and accepted another job.

    If they had the money they could hire a lawyer to squeeze out of you the extra cost of finding someone else, although they are not very likely to do that.

    However, they may well get in touch with your referees to complain about your unprincipled behaviour. I have known it happen.

    And your referees may feel morally obliged to tell the other school, where you've accepted, that they now wish to amend the reference where they said that you were honest and reliable. I have known this happen too.

    This school would therefore be justified in withdrawing their offer, since it was based on a reference which is no longer satisfactory, so you could be left jobless.

    Look at it this way.

    Do you think that the employer could just turn round before the start of term and tell you that they have interviewed someone they liked better, so sorry, no job for you?

    Once you have accepted an offer, you must not apply elsewhere, must withdraw any other applications, and must not go to other interviews as you are contractually bound to the school where you accepted.

    Not the answer that you wanted.

    And doubtless there will be other posters telling you to go ahead, as I am a miseryguts.

    But that's my answer.
  4. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    Yes, I'd agree with this. I know of someone who had accepted an offer from one school, only to then accept an offer from another school where they had also interviewed at, and subsequently telling the first school of their change of heart. Although it didn't get as far as legal action, that first school did not make life easy for this person once they had changed their mind. It was unpleasant, to say the least.
    agathamorse, Skeoch and TheoGriff like this.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    Apologies but why would you sign a contract you had doubts about ?
    If the school signed the contract and then decided they did not want to employ you,, how would it feel ?
    agathamorse and border_walker like this.
  6. ajc89

    ajc89 New commenter

    @Rebeccagoss14 Unless you’ve got personal extenuating circumstances, then no, not really as you would have verbally accepted as well. You wouldn’t wanna get ‘blacklisted’ so to speak; headteachers talk.
    It sounds like you’re an NQT if you want to “have my own classroom as this is the dream” ?
    agathamorse and steely1 like this.
  7. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    Absolutely not. Would you let them get away with hiring you then changing their mind when a better teacher came along?
    steely1 and TheoGriff like this.
  8. historyexcel

    historyexcel New commenter

    This rather depends.

    Your contractual obligation (my personal opinion)

    Bottom line is that if you have signed a contract (not a letter of acceptance but a contract) then that contract will detail under the relevant statutes what your rights of withdrawal are. These are your terms and conditions though sometimes they will be included in separate documents that are supplied with the contract but which are also considered/stated in the contract to be part of that contract.

    It is likely it would say that you have to meet a notice period and failure to do so will mean that you are subject to a penalty such as paying one months wage in lieu etc. These will though be specified in the contract. Your not bound by a set of sanctions that are not explicitly stated in the contract.

    I agree this is bad practice to take a job and junk it when something better comes along. But it is also more common than you might suppose. And actually some schools also do something similar, hiring behind the back of teachers who have been informed that they have a right to contract renewal only for them to then lose this right when a better candidate comes along. This is also bad practice, but as I say, it also happens.

    Complaining to referees (also my personal opinion)

    I am not surprised that an employer might complain to a referee but this is highly unprofessional in my opinion.

    What you seem to be implying here if I might use a glib analogy is that so and so said something bad about so and so and now you are gossiping about that to a third party. If you recorded such statements in a reference without first hand knowledge of the situation, something that a referee is supposed to have, then that is, at best, not acceptable practice.

    If you went back to the candidate and asked about the situation and then refused a to provide a reference as a result of what you learnt, well that is your right although personally I would consider that bad practice too.
    ACOYEAR8 likes this.

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