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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by PGat, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. PGat

    PGat New commenter

    This is the first time I have written but after reading posts about the excessive hours teachers are working, I felt the urge to comment.

    Last year I was granted ill-health retirement after a 25 year career that included various middle management positions such as Head of Geography. The free time I have had since has inevitably led to me to look back over my teaching career and on reflection I can now appreciate the damage those long hours did to my life and to those of my family. I will never be able to get back those evenings and weekends that I could have spent with my wife and children and this is something I will regret to my dying day. Please don’t sacrifice your family like I did!

    In 2008, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a particularly pernicious condition, and in 2010 went through very difficult spinal fusion operations . During that period my school changed – a new head was appointed and a new modus operandi evolved. Long hours became an expectation rather than a choice and a culture of infighting and paranoia developed. At this time I was bullied by one of my own department who didn't understand why I was in and out of hospital rather than writing the schemes of work and resources I had produced in previous years. She would scream demands at department meetings that I couldn't possibly satisfy and even on one occasion threw a chair. Matters became worse when the arthritis in my fingers worsened to make typing let alone writing a painful slog (this has taken me ages).
    Ulcerative colitis is something one tries to keep a secret and not talk about. The disabled toilet next to my classroom became my office!

    The stress of the extra work demands and the bullying exacerbated my colitis and I developed clinical depression. After this bullying colleague left in 2012, I put everything into my job, and was praised by the Head but by that time my illnesses had caught up with me and I left last year. When I finished, I was working over 80 hours a week.

    I have written this post partly I must confess for cathartic reasons but largely because I believe in future years many teachers on this board will be looking back with similar regrets to mine. If it takes leaving this profession to have a life then you must do so. Please believe me it is not worth the hours and stress no matter how pleasurable teaching can be.

    Ironically, my wife works in my old school but not as a teacher. Over the past year she has witnessed many teachers go under and ultimately leave under their own volition or they have been forced out. What is happening in many (not all) schools is insane. PLEASE DON`T MAKE MY MISTAKE. PUT YOURSELF AND MORE IMPORTANTLY YOUR FAMILY FIRST.
  2. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    PGat, what an honest and sad post.As you know, you are a member of a club with an increasing number of members.

    However, my advice would be to now look forward and not back. I was the victim of being a 'lady of a certain age' and on UPS 3. For that last 4 years since I 'left' my previous school, I have worked supply and short contracts. I loved it and had my faith restored in my ability as a teacher. Now I've left teaching behind me and have rediscovered evenings and weekends. Please try and do the same as the lack of pressure will help you. Looking back will bring no satisfaction, nor will it help to restore you to health.

    The very best of luck to you!! :)
    TEA2111, guinnesspuss and mark6243 like this.
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter



    A sad story indeed. I am so sorry that your life at school became so difficult and that you got insufficient support for your illnesses and the unacceptable behaviour of your colleague.

    My hope now is that your health has improved, as well as your family life.

    Thank you for telling us all this.

    Best wishes for now and the future

    guinnesspuss likes this.
  4. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I am very sorry to hear what happened to you, PGat. Although the condition from which I suffered was no where near as serious as yours, I had a similar sort of experience to you. Management, and some staff too, were 'unsupportive' (a euphemism if ever there was one!) of my eczema. Even when I had got to the 'human pizza' stage and the condition had spread to my hands and face, the school piled on the stress, rather than try to help me keep going. Schools have become very cruel and unfeeling places best avoided.
  5. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I echo the thoughts already sent to you here. Please try to remember all the successes you will have provided for the kids you taught too. I understand your regrets at the sacrifice at times you made re your family but then you were also a great role model for them in your efforts in the job. Hopefully life is improving for you now and you enjoy your well earned retirement to the full.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  6. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Thanks for posting, and best wishes. I suffered something similar but, with a supportive spouse, was in a position to just work part-time for the last 30 years. It didn't make the stress and workload vanish but it gave me vital breathing space and a better quality of life. It means my pension isn't very good but I managed to stay healthy. That was more important to me than status and money, even though I would've liked to climb the pole.
  7. chouxbunsmum

    chouxbunsmum New commenter

    Thank you so much for honesty. It helps me to know that o have done the right thing in resigning. I am 4 years qualified, though I went on maternity leave at the end of my NQT year. The school became an Academy when I was off, with a very ambitious and rather ruthless head to boot. Since returning, I have been expected to to a HoD job for M4 money since I was a one-person department. I went part time last January, yet since then I have worked more hours than I did before, for less money.
    The real kicker has been being told I am a failing department because I don't 'play the game' with my data. 'Who's going to know?' was the actual phrase used. Who will know??! I bloody will! Cannot wait to say bye bye to that place.
    Once again, thanks for pointing out the ill-effects stress can have on your health. I'm so sorry you feel you wasted your time. But I am so grateful to have realised not to do the same now.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  8. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Very brave.

    Best wishes

    chouxbunsmum likes this.
  9. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Such sad stories yet again. It's brave and wise to put yourself first and your families are reliant on you in a way the school will never be.
  10. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Thank you for sharing this, I am not surprised by this at all. I have been in many schools (on long term supply as well as permanent) and have witnessed many teachers suffer from depressive dis-orders, as well as a variety of other illnesses. What some schools expect from teachers has become seriously worrying. I have often seen teachers crying, or having breakdowns.

    I think it is worst for the young NQTs who are keen to impress so jump through all the hoops and do the mega long hours aswell as doing the extra-curricular activities as well as being form tutors; phoning parents; being bullied by SLT or other people in the department.

    I have learned not to work too hard in any position. I worked super-hard in 3 schools and at the end of the stint was kicked in the teeth. One deputy head actually said "I know you have worked so hard, it must be like a kick in the teeth that we won't be offering you a job". It was the classic case of me working too hard and not being "one of them" e.g. my face didn't fit despite working extremely hard to cover for a HOD who was off with stress for a whole year while only being paid the basic supply rate. I have learnt that working too hard isn't beneficial in any direction. I do what I need to and leave at the end of the day.
    TEA2111, cissy3 and Dragonlady30 like this.
  11. JessicaRabbit1

    JessicaRabbit1 Senior commenter

    I resigned today, because I will not spend any more time in a profession in which I am forced to neglect my family, friends and health as much as teaching has made me do. The dh, to whom I gave my letter, said she was sad but not at all surprised and said she didn't blame me.

    You are so right in all that you say. I know how debilitating UC can be, and I'm amazed at all you were put through. I will gladly take your advice, put it behind me and move on. The relief I feel is overwhelming.
  12. fudgeface

    fudgeface Occasional commenter

    This is so, so very sad. I was still in my classroom at almost 7pm this evening, not having had a decent adult conversation all day. whilst I was driving home I reflected on my 26 year teaching career and wondered where all the joy went. To the OP - savour every minute with your family - and to Jessica Rabbit - I wish I had your guts
    TEA2111 likes this.
  13. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    At my school they cannot see the damage that the stress is doing to staff.

    We are there 'for the children' and that's all that matters and to hell with staff working excessive hours.
  14. johnberyl

    johnberyl Occasional commenter

    And a relentlessly punishing workload does not make you a better teacher!
    TEA2111, lizziescat and guinnesspuss like this.
  15. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Quite the opposite in fact and ruins your health.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  16. Gsr25

    Gsr25 Occasional commenter

    What a sad post, thank you for sharing this as I think the ultimate message is important, put yourself and your family first because you don't get that time back.
  17. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    That sums it up in a nutshell.

    I got out last Christmas, I have been told by everyone I hear from who is still at the school that I escaped at the right time.

    Teaching has become toxic and best avoided these days.
    snowyhead and Compassman like this.
  18. EvilAsh

    EvilAsh Occasional commenter

    Poor, poor you. I'm not liking your post. It should have an unlike for everything you've gone through. You were right to get out. :(
  19. Peter9999

    Peter9999 New commenter

    This is moving and basically my story.

    Try this. Go to the local cemetery and look for a headstone that reads "John Smith. Loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. Much respected Second in Maths Department" You'll struggle to find one that says the last part. My point? Teaching is a friggin' job. It has value in many senses but your life shouldn't be defined by it. Your other roles are far more important.
    sara2323, Mangleworzle and snowyhead like this.
  20. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    At the end of each term, MrDt used to say "Do I get my wife back, now?"And my poor little children, wanting some attention, only to be told " mummy's working" as I marked tests etc and planned for the next day. No wonder they didn't want to become teachers!

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