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Looking to the future:

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Ladykaza, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I couldn't decide whether to post here - role specific and where some of you kind people are aware of my situation - or on workplace dilemas', so i've gone for both...... Sorry.

    I have been suffering from WRS and depression, culminating in a week off before Christmas - my first for 25 years. I have also taken a break from these boards - going cold turkey from all things 'education' .

    Without boring you with the details, my return to work has not gone well

    I've been back to the GP and he's signed me off for a month - this however causes me more problems than it solves ( which brings me back to why I'm back on the boards today looking for advice) I am coming to the realisation that this could be it. To be honest if I could, I would resign this minute and never go back. My big concern is that if I take an extended period off with this condition that I will struggle to secure other work either in or out of education. I can't resign with no job to go to and I don't want to be trapped in a job I can't manage because I fear I will be unemployable.

    Everyone - family, friends, colleagues, counsellors-, union. - are all being wonderfully supportive and urging me to stay at home and recover, but without this question answered I can't rest.

    I'm hoping that some of you might be able to share you experiences or suggest who I can ask for a straight answer, maybe @Middlemarch , @TheoGriff or @GLsghost might know the answer.

  2. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Many people have had what you describe as "extended" periods of time off with wrs (or other, similar conditions) and successfully either gone back to work or found other work. Of course, headship being the incredibly stressful job that it is, you are concerned that returning successfully might not be possible for you - and you may be right.

    The first job, however, is to look at how you can use this month (there may be more, of course) to get as well as you can. That means not only staying well away from work, but also getting as much exercise, fresh air and activities that refresh and revitalise you as you can. Eat well and stay off the booze/junk food/anything 'bad' that you tend to turn to for comfort; read books that you enjoy, watch telly you enjoy, etc. See if you can get some counselling quickly - more people find it helps than those who don't.

    You might want to consider referring yourself to OH - they're there for all staff, including the head! They might well be able to advise on how you can - with support of the GB - 're-organise' (can't think of better word, but I mean all sorts of things here) your job so that it becomes more manageable and less stressful.

    A friend who had to get out of primary headship (she's in her mid-40s) a couple of years ago feared she would never get more work. She divides her time between part-time advisory work for an LA and consultancy (she's just done a sort of 'tour' of much of the UK, organised by the consultancy firm she works for, presenting training for primary staff) and is making more money than she did in headship. She loves it and her stress has plummeted. She still has school holidays! There are options out there, if you decide eventually that you can't tolerate this job any more.

    And you know I'm there for you via PM - any time. Stay well.
    ilovepoppies and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  3. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Sorry to hear you are so unwell, @Ladykaza. Excellent advice from @Middlemarch, above.

    It is difficult to have a clear perspective with WRS and depression, such is the nature of the illness, so do be wary of making any important decisions until you are better. I think you must prioritise your health before anything else - you will never have a successful return if you go back too soon.

    If you had slipped in school and broken your hip and been hospitalised and laid up for months, I imagine that your perspective on the sickness absence would be very different. Yet the root cause would have been the same.

    You are as entitled to protection from WRS as any other employee. The governing body and ultimate employer are liable for any further injury to your health, once they are aware and must put in place steps to alleviate the stressors. Being a HT is an inherently challenging and stressful job, but there is both a statutory and contractual duty to ensure your health is not damaged by it and the stress is not excessive.

    I have experience of mobilising both leadership unions to act, if at any point you feel they are not supporting as fully as you would wish.

    Happy to contribute in any way I can.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I have little if anything to add to the advice and comments above.

    All I can say really is that many people do work in jobs outside teaching (!), and many of them find these jobs satisfying. Not perhaps in exactly the way that teaching - and Headship - is, but with less stress of all kinds.

    And I also believe that there is more and more awareness of the unbearableness of Headship among the public at large, so if you did decide to move to a new career, you would not find any raised eyebrows when they received your application.

    Look after yourself. Eat some chocolate as well as the kale. Watch something daft as well as Horizon.

    And remember your friends on here.

    Best wishes

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    Thank you all for your kind words and advice. I think an appointment with OH might be a good idea. Thanks for the offer should I need it @GLsghost . NAHT are being very helpful about both my illness and the parental complaint which is aggravating it.

    On a positive note I am without a headache for the first time in a week I might even get some sleep tonight. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  6. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    I don't have anything useful to add - except that you should take the time your GP suggests. I resisted and as a result am still not properly well.
    I have the same fears - and if I had a partner to offer support, I would have walked a while ago.
    A lack of support from NAHT has not helped either in my case - I don't have the energy to keep chasing the area rep and when I do, they don't seem able to return my calls or emails :(
    Most days it feels as if absolutely nobody cares.
    The profession is in meltdown and I can't see it changing anytime soon
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  7. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    I am a new head and I don't really have anything to add but I understand how stressful it is. I know how horrible parental complaints can be.
    I just wanted to send my best wishes and wish you well.
    Lara mfl 05 and Ladykaza like this.
  8. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Three posters. Three Heads who have been on the forum here for some years.

    All living a life that they never imagined that they would when they first got their Headship.

    Look after your health, all of you. Look after yourselves.

    This is so sad, so sad.


    Best wishes for things to get better for you all in 2016

    digoryvenn, Ladykaza and GLsghost like this.
  9. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    So sorry to hear that Cornflake, and I know that feeling.... Nobody cares. Or they sympathise and say ,' yes, well that's the job isn't it?' ..... But, how did we get here? How did we get to a point where these people can say whatever they want and we just have to take it, have no right of reply for fear of being labeled ' unprofessional' . As is evident , I don't have any answers but you certainly have my empathy.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    'This is so sad, so sad.'

    This is indeed so sad! What has happened to this wonderful profession?
    It is certainly unrecognisable from the profession I joined in the mid 70s when staff were supportive and parents, generally, with us as opposed to against us.
    I endorse Theo's wishes for better prospects and health.
  11. Sistersarah

    Sistersarah New commenter

    @Ladykaza I hope you are starting to feel healthier and in a more positive frame of mind about your future, whatever direction it may take.
    Best wishes
  12. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    Thanks @Sistersarah .

    I'm still off and having some counselling. Have now been referred to occupational health, so we'll see what they have to say, but am signed off for another 2 weeks, which I think I'm going to need.

    My colleagues and governors have been wonderful , the local authority less so! I am finding it very difficult to let go and just focus on myself.

    I did however have a good chat with the CAB and I'm pretty sure that my period of sickness will not prevent me getting another job. I have still promised not to make any decisions until I am on the road to recovery but at the moment I'm finding it difficult to see a future for me in education. I'm dreaming of a quiet little job where I turn up, do my job, and go home again.

    It's simple, but it's a good dream.

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