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Leaving a long term assignment early

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by mab7689, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. mab7689

    mab7689 New commenter

    Apologies in advance for the long post. Thank you for reading and replying if you do.
    At the start of this academic year I began an assignment undertaking a maternity cover at a school till Easter. It came to me via an agency in the final week of the previous academic year so I accepted it as I wasn't in a position to turn it down. The position was sold to me as a teacher of Humanities (I am a History specialist) so was happy to take this but obviously I wouldn't know what the timetable would be till I started.
    Because of the nature of my recruitment the first day of term was my first day there and I went in knowing very little. On this I discovered it is a maternity cover for a Geography teacher and 20 of my 21 lessons are Geography, including some KS4. This gave me an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach as I worked a one term contract in a school last year that ended up being wholly Geography, despite being told it would be a History and Geography mix (I believed I could cope with some KS3 Geography if it was part of a mixed timetable). I ended up hating it as I didn't feel comfortable being out of specialism and it brought up some problems. I had a horrible feeling history would be repeating itself.
    2 weeks in and I have survived. Minus some issues, which you get everywhere, behaviour has generally been good and I am in a very good, supportive department, yet there is still the big but. There have been moments in lessons, mainly the KS4 ones, where the fact I am out of specialism has given me difficulty and I don't feel I am teaching it too well. If they were observed my lessons are probably satisfactory at best. I haven't divulged to my students that I am a History teacher teaching Geography but I am anxious moments where I have struggled are showing. It is making think that despite the fact that I like the school, the department and it has generally been positive that I don't feel I can last till April.
    To add to this earlier this week another agency I am registered with advertised a position for a History teacher from after October half term to July as another maternity cover. I have already called them and expressed my interest. They told me they would get back to me next week once the school had been spoken to. Despite the fact I would feel bad because I have a good set of colleagues in my department I have to admit I would not hesitate to terminate the assignment early if it meant I could go to a position that teaches my own subject, especially if it is till the end of the academic year. I would be willing to wait till the end of half term as I know that would be better than leaving during one. This is obviously purely dependent on receiving further information about the post and proceeding.
    I am wondering is there anyone on here who has experience of terminating a long term supply assignment early and can give me any advice for this situation? I believe that as I am employed through agency rather than directly I am not subject to notice period but some advice on how to go about this would be great as I have never been in this situation before. My main concern is to make sure I am conducting myself professionally in the event I find something more suitable and wish to leave.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Your conversations about leaving should be conducted through the agency which will relate all you say to the school. The agency are not going to like it very much, since they will be losing income and will have to find another teacher. However, if you give them as much notice as possible and explain that the problem is that you are not a Geography specialist and are finding it hard going, then it is reasonable for the agency to accept that. You can mention that that is the only reason and everything else is perfectly fine.

    There is, however, a lesson for you here. Next time before you take on anything long term, before you accept a posts, try to ensure you get more information about what you are going to teach. Difficult sometimes on supply, but at least try.
    agathamorse and thekillers like this.
  3. thekillers1

    thekillers1 Lead commenter

    For zero hour contracts, you only need to provide 24 hours notice via email. Just saying...
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Don't annoy the crocodile until you have crossed the river comes to mind.

    Perhaps legally the poster only has to provide 24 hours' notice, but it is much better to give st least s week:s notice so the agency and school have time to make other arrangements. Some would say, the school would not hesitate to instantly get rid of a supply teacher on the spot, so why not act in the same manner? Everyone has to make their own choice; and for me, I would give as much notice as possible and more than 24 hours.
    les25paul likes this.
  5. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    To add to what Pepper just said, legally our contracts are not zero hours even though effectively the conditions are similar. I won't go into nitpicking detail, but beware of confusing the two.
    As said above, the agency will have other potential candidates on their books, so they should be able to find a replacement, but to be fair to that person, and the client school and students, some time to organise a handover would be more professional. A week should be enough.
    Make sure the History job is in the bag before you walk off and find yourself out of work altogether. Some of these tempting looking agency jobs are just teasers and come to nothing.
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. mab7689

    mab7689 New commenter

    Thanks for all the replies. There is no way I would leave without something else in place and to me going out professionally and amicably would be the most important thing so I would be happy to wait till a handover is sorted. As I said in my original post I would have no problem serving out the remainder of the half term for that purpose if I found something else before then.
    thekillers and pepper5 like this.
  7. thekillers1

    thekillers1 Lead commenter

    If you get a contract, then it's not zero hour.
  8. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    The adavantage of a supply placement is that you can leave at any time. Although in practise it would be fairer to give all concerned a week's notice that this is your intention.

    In your case you have a valid reason to call it a day, simply tell the school and the agency that you are teaching outside youe expertise and that in your opinion another choice of teacher would be of more benfit to the students. The school will admire your honesty and professionism.

    But do not rely on this other History post being available, the agency might have another teacher for it or the school might be contacting several agencies.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. mab7689

    mab7689 New commenter

    I am in no way thinking it is in the bag yet by any means. All I have done so far is express interest. The agency told me they would get back to me with further details once they had spoken to the school so I am now playing the waiting game on whether they will keep their word. As it is an agency I am already on the books of at least I can't be roped in with the registration for commission then never hear from them again ploy. We will just have to see what happens.
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    All the best for getting your situation sorted out.

    Have a good week.
  11. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    I've left some long term assignments before, I've always given as much notice as I can and been where possible been willing to continue until a replacement was found. Yes we can leave by the next day if we want but it's always better to give notice and time to sort a replacement as it shows that you are being professional and leaves the school with a positive experience of you. Which can ultimately lead to a good rep and more work.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. Urbanfaerie

    Urbanfaerie Occasional commenter

    I left a maternity supply after two weeks because the school was awful. They can terminate your contract without warning, and so can you.
    I'd be honest with the school if they've been nice and explain that you'd thought it'd be History and you feel out of your depth.

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