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Leaving before notice period?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by tigerlily2017, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. tigerlily2017

    tigerlily2017 New commenter

    Hi, I’m hoping someone who may have experienced this situation can help me. This is very difficult for me to write so please be gentle! Basically, I have recently returned to teaching after a bit of time out. In short: I hate it. I don’t want to give too many details for fear of identifying myself on here but a combination of horrendous behaviour from the pupils, lack of support and issues at home (childcare issues are making things incredibly fraught at home too) means that I simply cannot stay there and I handed my notice in.

    I have always enjoyed teaching. I have always been a good teacher. Here, I feel so worthless and weak and it has completely and utterly stamped out any desire I have to set foot in a classroom ever again. I now have no doubt in my mind that I never, ever want to return to teaching.

    When I resigned, HT said he wants me to stay until the end of term as per my contract. Which I initially understood (it seems, despite my utter misery I have still been teaching ‘good’ lessons) but it has now got to a point where I feel completely unable to stay a moment longer.

    I can’t sleep, I get tearful daily and I get palpitations when I think about going in. Most mornings, whilst I’m driving in it takes all my strength not to just turn around and go in the opposite direction. The thought of spending 7-8 more weeks there makes my chest feel tight.

    Every night I fantasise about just writing a letter so say that I can no longer continue but I am happy for them to withhold my pay if they need to.

    So my question is: has anyone ever left before their notice period? What happened?

    I realise they can technically sue me for breach of contract. I am happy for them to withhold my pay. I realise they could refuse me a reference, but I never want to teach again so would I have to use them as a referee for any future job?

    They would not hire a replacement for me as when they hired me I was essentially an ‘extra’ teacher to help raise attainment.

    I would not normally ever consider doing this but I feel utterly desperate and already it is starting to affect my health.

    Going back to the HT isn’t an option; I made it clear on my resignation letter that I would prefer an earlier date if possible and he made it clear I need to stay. I’ve tried contacting my union for advice; they essentially said that I have to abide by this and they are unable to help me in any other way because I joined so recently.

    If you have read this far, thank you. Apologies if this has come across as jumbled! Any advice would be much appreciated.
    jonwell675 likes this.
  2. cheesypop

    cheesypop Occasional commenter

    If you are ill (mentally or physically) you have every right to visit your GP and they may well sign you off sick.

    You have every right to be off sick for as long as you are ill , which may well be until the end of term.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You would not be the first to be signed off for an initial two weeks and then to return to the GP with no improvement in your condition and be signed off until the end of term.

    You have handled this impeccably. You know what you need and what you are capable of and haven't ducked the issue. Your HT has made his position clear too. As is his right.

    But you are ill so your only option is to see the GP. It's all most unfortunate and vexing for all concerned but that's how it is. These things happen every day.

    You need to get checked out.
  4. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Have you raised the issue of child care with your HT as a distinct problem in itself?
    Parenting and teaching become oil and water if you do not have child care. It's really hard if you are not lucky enough to have a seamless arrangement for kid logistics while you are at work. How much easier would it all be if they could teleport themselves to and from school or into the hands of a caring somebody, or suddenly be imbued with an ability to safely and contentedly occupy the house without you there!
    This element of pressure on you is huge, but did you know it also gives you some "leverage" in your situation. You cannot say to your head "let me go, I hate it" or "the job is doing me in!". But if you say "I cannot source proper childcare and I have tried every feasible and reasonable avenue" then your HT is duty bound to take that on board. They are obliged to demonstrate that they have "considered" your issue and at least explored a flexible option where you are given leeway and they can cover the deficit of what you cannot achieve. This does not mean they are obliged to cover you, it means they are obliged to show they have considered it. (Mind, you are equally obliged to "keep looking".)
    It also legitimises a time when, say, you cannot get to work early enough for a meeting because you have to sort the kids. Sure, they might decide to dock you a pro rata amount, but if you have had that conversation with your HT (commit it to writing too) then they cannot penalise you in any other way.
    Practically speaking I hope this can allow you to switch the work priority you clearly have at the mo-kids first. Always.
    If you've got no one to help, phone in and say "I cannot come in, I have child care issues" Do that with as much notice as you can.
    You are allowed to.This one strand of what is tearing you, you are allowed, and that is written into your rights as an employee . Maybe it will then help with the rest of the grief, I don't know.
    Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
    pepper5, Stiltskin, nomad and 2 others like this.
  5. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    In this sort of situation, if you are likely to be off sick for the rest of term, the headteacher may release you from your contract as it reduces the cost for the school. If you have the sick leave entitlement, I would suggest you play it by ear, getting yourself signed off if appropriate, so you still have an income until April 30th
    pepper5 and cheesypop like this.
  6. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    Plenty of good advice above.

    The symptoms you describe suggest you do need to go and see your GP.

    I know you say you can't go back to your head, but if there's a slight chance they have some compassion I suggest you do. Explain to them your problems, and how work is making you stressed. They have a duty of care to you, and by informing them it's highlighting that they need to address the situation. Once they fully understand the situation they may reassess your request to be released early.

    Obviously you do need to consider what possible consequences any of these actions may have on future employment, but the key thing at this time is your health.

    Good luck and I hope it works out for you.
    pepper5 and jonwell675 like this.
  7. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter


  8. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

  9. tigerlily2017

    tigerlily2017 New commenter

    Thank you so much for everyone's responses.

    I did raise childcare as the specific issue and quoted it as the reason for my resignation. I explained how difficult it was (unforeseeable circumstances leaving me with next to no childcare) and how it was affecting every area of my life and I still got the same response- hence my reluctance to have another conversation with him as I feel it will probably have the same outcome.

    Reading back what I wrote about my symptoms, I do realize I should probably go to the drs like you all suggest. I know I shouldn't be, but there is the element of embarrassment holding me back. I feel so ashamed to have let a job which I used to excel in get the better of me, especially as I started so recently and I am part time. I don't know if I could bear to make the phone call to the head and tell them I have been signed off sick. Can anyone talk me through the process? If I were to be signed off, do I have to go in to show them the certificate/have any meetings? I just don't know if I can face talking to him again. I'm a very private person and laying myself bare like that to my boss terrifies me! Sounds pathetic, I know.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  10. clarefrankie

    clarefrankie Occasional commenter

    don't worry. you get an appointment with your dr and explain the situation, the doc gave me (i'm curently off with WRS) 4 weeks off and a doc's note stating i was not fit to work due to WRS. i then emailed HR and my school union rep and explained the situation to them, then i sent the note in addressed to HR. i have contact with my union and some friends i work with but my doc expicitly said for school to have no contact with me. i am currently taking Vitamin B supplement as i have found that they have helped to reduce the cyclical nature of my anxiety. the first week i was shocked but i gave myself some small achieveable tasks to keep myself busy/ stop myself dwelling...i'm only now starting to feel a bit better. i have never been off work before.
  11. tigerlily2017

    tigerlily2017 New commenter

    Thank you, I'm not sure I know who my union rep is or my HRs email, any ideas how I go about it? So you didn't have to ring in sick when you were signed off then? This has given me a bit more confidence to go and seek help so thank you very much. Glad to hear you are starting to feel better and wishing you a speedy recovery.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You can email and say you'll post the sick note. You don't have to speak to the HT. You can speak to the school secretary and ask them to pass on the message or tell them to warn the HT to check their email.

    You shouldn't go in to school. It sounds as if it might worsen your symptoms. Your GP would tell you to stay away.

    You aren't laying yourself bare. You will simply be stating (via email) that you are suffering with WRS - or whatever the GP says it is.

    "Dear HT, I have just returned from seeing my GP. It's his/her opinion that I'm suffering with WRS and s/he has signed me off work until blah blah date. I have been instructed to take a complete break so you'll find my planning on the network and whoever replaces me should work from that. I shall be in contact again shortly before my sick note expires to let you know if I have recovered or remain unwell."
  13. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Get yourself signed off from work due to work related stress. You are entitled to be paid so they can’t do anything.
    I wouldn’t advise ‘walking out’- it doesn’t help your situation and when it comes to obtaining references in the future, the school will probably not give you one.
    Just don’t burn your bridges for the sake of a couple of weeks, it really isn’t worth it and can cause harm to your career.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. Dixie_Stamford

    Dixie_Stamford New commenter

    Please don’t suffer. School will replace you and continue on from the moment you are off, they have to. There’s enough supply teachers out there ready to work on your behalf - harsh but true. This gem of reality helped me last term when I felt guilty about being off. Your health is much more important. I photographed my sick notes and emailed them in. I never directly spoke to anyone again at the school once going off with anxiety and resigned for Christmas.
  15. hana54

    hana54 New commenter

    Thank you everyone. You have given me the confidence to seek help- I will book an appointment ASAP and let you know how I get on!
    pepper5 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Please do!
    pepper5 and wanet like this.
  17. missteach2005

    missteach2005 New commenter

    This has just happened to me and I was going to leave at Easter. The morning I went in to hand my notice in, I had a melt down. So much so the people in charge could see what as state I was in. Personally, I think I was close to a break down if I had just 'sucked it up'. I was todl I would probably be best going home, so I did. I got signed off, again!

    Fast forward to later in that week and I decided to hand my notice in and the school did a deal with me. Benefit both sides, as why would they want a teacher who is not fit for the job due to depression and anxiety?

    I too do not, ever want to return to teaching. I am now on gardening leave for a little while longer, and I am applying for jobs away from this sector. We have a little saved to see us through a month or two. The change in my mental health already has been huge. My other half has already said I seem so much happier, and not being so stressed as I once was as I was continually on edge.

    During my first week off when I had made the decision I also cleared out my study. I have chucked every morsal of anything teaching related. It was so cathartic and it has made me realise how much I have hated this profession for what I have allowed it to do to me!

    Good luck! If need be get signed off with WRS. Do your notice on the sick! Mental and physical health far out weigh anything else!
    pepper5 likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Dear God. What sort of profession has this become when we talk so glibly of having meltdowns and when we say WRS and everyone knows EXACTLY what it means.... :-(
    pepper5, grumpydogwoman and eljefeb90 like this.
  19. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    How many stories like this have I read in the last year ?

    Too many
  20. Amylicorice

    Amylicorice New commenter

    I got signed off with stress once- and it was not the making or the breaking of me- but it was very very difficult for me to ask for help (emotionally). I received a lot of support on this forum at crazy hours of the morning during panic attacks that helped me through it.
    I had always been a great teacher with a lot of fun for the profession. And that one school mounted a campaign to take that away from me. I was left with no choice but to reclaim my life and take the stress leave.
    I hope that you take this advice and look after yourself.
    pepper5 and clarefrankie like this.

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