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NQT signed off with depression & unsure about teaching...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Carofi90, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter


    I qualified in July 2015 and after doing a placement in an SEN primary school I took a huge risk. I felt so enthusiastic and happy and applied for a permanent post but didn't get it due to experience so took a leap of faith and went for a temporary, maternity cover, post which turned out to be a floating role around 6 classes. I was assured I could complete my NQT (well two terms of it whilst I was employed) and whilst it started wonderfully it soon changed and became one of the worst situations I could have imagined as a new teacher.

    A few weeks went by and I hadn't heard about my NQT induction so I chased up and didn't hear a lot. This chasing continued and it got to the point where I had to call in the local authority NQT advisor to assist me and it turned out the school hadn't registered me at all and I had to forget the Autumn term as counting toward my induction. I was, obviously, upset about this but tried to remain optimistic that we'd start it up from January and that at least i'd get a term under my belt. I also wanted to apply for another permanent position coming up before Christmas, hoping that with my new experience and a foot in the door i'd get it. It would have been for one class and a class I adored too but again I didn't get it due to experience and apparently I didn't blow them away as much this time around. Of course, this was a little disheartening but then I also heard they asked various people across the school about me and also that myself and the single other candidate had different classes within the school for our observations (which in an SEN school makes is particularly unequal as no class is even remotely the same) and also that whilst he was much older than me he was too an NQT. I was upset, I did cry and I felt very much like there was no intention to keep me on or to try and help me pursue a position and career at the school... which before I was actually employed they'd made seem the very opposite.

    During my firs term I also encountered some other personal problems and over the Christmas break I just started feeling very low and miserable about my position and school and future. Floating around as an NQT is actually very lonely and, evidently, soul destroying at times. Yes it's given me skills in working with a range of pupils and staff but it's very lonely and confidence gets knocked easily.

    I went back on the first day of spring term miserable and ended up having a panic attack + a personal upset and took two days off hoping i'd feel better and return at the end of the week and get back in to the swing of things. I saw my GP who said she wanted to sign me off with depression but I was scared of this so said I wanted to try and go in and when I did I broke down at work and was a complete mess before heading home to see my GP again and be signed off.

    Now, here I am still signed off waiting to get some sort of counselling and trying to figure myself out and i'm just so lost. I'm lost on what I want to do with my life, what else can I do? Do I still want to teach? I'll be needing a new job from Summer term and I feel like my only options will be mainstream and i'm so freaked out about returning to mainstream with all the pressures and lack of work-life balance teachers face. I like alternative teaching settings like SEN or hospital schools but they all want mounds of experience! I'm scared i'll end up in mainstream with less money, more workload and still unhappy. I had an awful experience on my mainstream PGCE placement as well and worked as a TA in mainstream prior to my PGCE and saw how terrible it could be on teachers. All we here is bad press about teaching now. I am trying to look for positions ready for April and i'm not inspired by any of them, I like working with SEN kids and I have considered also PRU's and i'm going to meet someone from a tutoring academy. I just don't know what my options are! I don't want to entirely waste my PGCE and now that I have NOTHING for my NQT induction I feel in an even more compromised position.

    I'm also worried about this absence affecting my references and my prospects as it is. I just want to be happy and supported and nurtured. I don't want tons of assessment and paperwork each day/each weekend and holidays. I just want to focus on children and teaching them and helping them.

    My first degree was in Media and I sometimes miss that. I've had many bad work place experiences and my confidence gets knocked I and loose faith. This, however, is the worst it's ever been and I just don't know what to do. It feels like a failure after such a short time to be feeling this way and to be signed off with depression! I spend each day anxious about going back because I can't afford to not return there at all as much I would love to be able to take all the time I needed to find myself and figure things out.

    I'd really welcome advice or tips or if anyone knows of careers or options open to someone in my position!

    Thank you for reading my essay and helping!
  2. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    Sorry to hear of your situation. It seems you've had rather a rough time of it. I can sympathise and assure you that you will not be alone in experiencing these things.

    What can you do? A lot, actually. First take the time to feel better again. Really, your health has to come first. When you're in a better place, then consider your options. Of which there are many!

    Supply is a good way of gauging the local schools (there are nice ones out there). If you find a school that like you (and vice versa) they may want to take you on and you can finish your NQT year this way. That's how I got mine done. Perhaps it would be a good idea to send your CV to schools around your area with a good reputation, and see what response you get. But supply can be a bit of a lottery. It has a lot of pluses and minuses, the biggest plus being that you get experience of various schools. It will also be a way of getting other references.

    If you feel that you really do not want to teach mainstream, perhaps look in to colleges for people with learning difficulties. As well as teaching, a lot of these places have roles for behavioural support. I know that these roles can expand and include some teaching. Your PGCE and enthusiasm for SEN will be highly valued in such places. The paperwork is also less prominent.

    Just a couple of ideas. I'm sure others will be along soon with more thorough advice. There are a lot of options. You may have to try a few things, get a few more knocks, and be as flexible as you can until you find something that fits. Of course, what you can take will depend on your financial situation.

    Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Perhaps take up a hobby or exercise to take your mind off all the negativity. A healthy body helps to make a healthy mind, after all.

    And do listen to your body. What is your gut feeling? If something, (or even the thought of something) is filling you with dread day in, day out, your body is sending a message. I think our body and our gut can be like a compass that guides us - it usually pays to take it in to account.

    When you're feeling better you will find that you have lots to offer. The world is your oyster, as they say.
  3. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter

    Thank you for this and for taking the time to read my long post.

    The ideas of colleges working with young adults or other children with SEN does interest me but there's not many in my area. There seem be more up North of the country but less so in greater London and also there seems to be a lack of positions in any that there are :(.

    I think it feels so negative because I should be all enthusiastic and positive and a tough but but unfortunately not.

    I have thought about supply and I guess my concerns are lack of financials over holiday periods and whether i'd feel as alone and disconnected as I do in my floating role but equally I know it will be a good chance to see what other schools are like and maybe it will be nice to see some great schools where people are happy and support is high, maybe that'll then give me hope.

    Some days are better than others and i'm starting to, personally, feel better but with regards to work I still feel unhappy and nervous and this scares me because I feel I need to get back and I can't afford not to! At the moment I am recieving OSP but that will (because of only working for just over 4 months) end very soon and it'll go to SSP which I can't really live off :(. I just feel it's so harmful to attendance records, references and interviews...

    Thanks again for your comments and i'll take them all on. It's just nice to have some thoughts and advice from people outside of family.
  4. joannagb

    joannagb Occasional commenter

    I feel so sorry for you, but making decisions at the moment would be a mistake - depression is a real thing and it does affect the way that you think and feel about everything. I'm not suggesting that you should dismiss your thoughts about teaching at the moment, but they are not necessarily the way that you will think and feel once your depression has been effectively treated. Please remember that this is an illness and that it will start to get better with the right treatment. Counselling and whatever other treatment the GP recommends will help you, until then try not to discuss school with people, just focus on things that make you feel good - little social events, walks in the park, going to the cinema... little things to keep you moving in a positive direction. When you're better, or at least truly on the mend, then you can think about the future. Take care, keep posting.
  5. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter

    Thank you for your comments and thoughts. Very kind and the sort of thing I need to take on board, it's just so easy to beat yourself up about being off and being depressed. It feels wrong.

    Thanks again and I am lucky to have great family who are getting me out and about. Today is a nice day with the sun shining so nicely.
    joannagb likes this.
  6. leonslow

    leonslow New commenter

    I'm in a similar position. I qualified July 2015, struggled to find a job (I booked a holiday to Australia leaving the day after I finished the course, the PGCE had been such a slog and taken such a toll on me, so I missed a lot of potential time to apply/interview). I did get a temporary Autumn term Y1 role at a lovely school with fantastic kids, welcoming colleagues and solid support. Unlike your (horrendous sounding!) situation, I had good NQT support and pastoral support from the Diocese (Catholic school was NOT my plan, but the Diocese my school was in had a cracking load of people working there).

    Was doing ok first half term, felt super energised and enthusiastic to go for Autumn 2. Then I had a huge panic attack the first day back. I did not see it coming at all, as I felt so positive about going back. For the first time in ages I hadn't had the Sunday night dread. I'd had anxiety during my PGCE but was managing it with medication fine. This was another league though. Luckily my TA was in that afternoon otherwise the kids would've been so vulnerable and seen me in a very distressed/distressing state.

    Got signed off with anxiety and depression until Christmas (and the end of my contract) and am finally getting some CBT (although I think I need counselling too but nevermind). I'm signed off until Easter because I'm still having panic attacks and depressive episodes (being curled up for 20 minutes on the floor of a grotty pub toilet in Glasgow on my friend's birthday was a recent high point of my stunning mental health history), but am working hard towards getting back into part time work for the summer term.

    Trouble is, I don't know if I want that work to be teaching. I've an interview for a 0.5 job for summer term only, but I'm just so unenthused about it. It's a lovely school, in an area I like and the staff I met on my look round were lovely. But I just don't know if I can go back into something that has caused me so much pain. PGCE made me ill and then the actual job was even worse. People keep saying that I need to give it time, but I don't know how much time I'm expected to be unhappy for. But I literally have no other experience than in education and it feels like such a waste of effort and money. If I'd dropped out of PGCE at least I wouldn't have the pressure to get this sodding NQT year done within the time limit just so I don't 'waste' the qualification.

    Honestly, PGCE the biggest regret of my life at the moment.

    Anyway, hugs to all in similar situations. It sucks, but we're all made of stronger stuff than we realise.
  7. leonslow

    leonslow New commenter

    Also, I'm terrified about what my prospects would be elsewhere. Not sure how I can make 8 weeks of teaching leading to a nervous breakdown sound positive to any employer, especially one outside of education!
  8. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    That's unacceptable.

    You probably don't want to pursue it, and I can hardly blame you, but something should happen as a result of the above.

    Hope you get it together soon and move onto something enjoyable and fulfilling. I taught overseas for a few years and loved it, then did far too long in mainstream over here, before moving into alternative provision/PRU/disaffected/disadvantaged children a few years ago. The latter is fantastic - all the good stuff about teaching with none of the rubbish, and you actually feel like you are serving the community - not the school's league table place.

    Good luck,
  9. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Oh my goodness, this could have been my post 4 years ago!

    I was in the same boat (although not in SEN) I got singed off part way through my NQT with depression and stress in 2012. I was very, very ill and was in therapy and on medication but it was too much. I broke down at work and enough was enough.

    But, 4 years and 1 fantastically supportive school later I am back on the horse and have returned to teaching.

    "it's just so easy to beat yourself up about being off and being depressed. It feels wrong." Oh so easy to think, and not normal to think like that but it's not right. Here's a thought a friend told me when I was reluctant to get back on the anti depressants this September just gone: If you had diabetes you wouldn't try and get on with life without your insulin or think that taking your insulin was somehow being weak would you? No, you'd get that insulin because the diabetes without it would make you ill. Well depression is the same, it's making you ill so do what you can to get better. Medication, therapy, rest, whatever!

    You are not a failure, you are not weak, you are ill at your need to get better. Your life is NOT collapsing around you. As someone who had been on the brink of suicide and back, I can promise you it will get better. It may seem like your life is just raining right now but the sun will come back I promise.

    Do not go back to teaching before you're strong enough however, don't push it too soon.

    Be kind to yourself. Depression sucks, give yourself a break.

    Lots of love xxxxxx
  10. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    "I'm terrified about what my prospects would be elsewhere. Not sure how I can make 8 weeks of teaching leading to a nervous breakdown sound positive to any employer, especially one outside of education."

    Have you any idea who strong you are to be dealing with this depression instead of just trying to muddle on through?

    Iit takes great strength to know when you need help so well done. I've never had any problems with employers and my experience. Never.
  11. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter

    That's awful and i'm so sorry to hear you're going through something similar. Thank you for replying and taking the time to tell me about your story.

    I saw my doctor again today and am hoping to go to work for the last two days before half term to see if I can cope and get over the anxiety and awkwardness and see if I can complete the last 24 working days until Easter and then see what happens for the summer term :/. I just can't financially survive on SSP and possibly not even on part-time at moment but equally will seriously consider it if I think it's good health wise which it may well be for now!

    I've also been thinking about part time work and maybe doing part time in another job unrelated to teaching. I know how you fell though, I did media in my first degree but since doing the PGCE feel like teaching is all i'm really qualified for now.

    I'm just so angry at all the events leading to this, if support had been in place and proper procedures had been in place this may well have never happened for me or got to such a bad state. Now i'm signed off and have none of my NQT induction done at all and just left feeling lost and uncertain for my future. :(
  12. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter

    I did go to the local authority NQT advisor about it all and she came and we all had meetings and I think they got 'told off' and given instructions. I was due to do a term of my NQT starting from the beginning of this term but that's when the anxiety and depression had already reared it's head and so now i've just decided to forgo it for now. So first term they took away from me because of their mistakes and neglect and this term i've had to take off the table for my health.

    Yes that's exactly what I want, to work somewhere where I get the actual reward and focus of teaching and helping children without the stress of paperwork, work-life balance and I know they'll still be challanges and work but not prioritised over the children.

    I just don't know who will take an NQT in that sort of provision or setting.
    Scintillant likes this.
  13. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter

    Thank you and it's good to know someone made it through!! It gives me some hope. xx
  14. Carofi90

    Carofi90 New commenter

    I feel exactly the same!!

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