1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

When can I leave?

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by redmel, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. redmel

    redmel New commenter


    I have recently started at a new school and I am not coping very well. I am an RQT and managed perfectly well in my NQT year at my previous school, but since starting in this school (4 wks ago) I have not settled at all and have become progressively more stressed and anxious. I'm not sleeping. I keep waking up having panic attacks early hours of the morning (2am-4am) and am then unable to get back to sleep.

    I have taken today off, and will stay off the rest of this week, and will try the sleeping pills and anxiety tablets the doctor has prescribed me today, to see if they help. She has said if I feel no better next week then she is more than happy to sign me off for a couple of weeks so i can try to recover myself a bit.

    Anyway, I know I need to hand my notice in - staying there is absolutely not an option, but is there any way I can leave sooner than Easter. I'm not ready to give up on teaching yet, as I know I was coping just fine in my previous school, and I am thinking of maybe doing supply for the rest of this year to relieve the pressure of SLT/progress/marking/observations/scrutiny etc.

    I have searched the internet, but can't seem to find an answer.

    Thank you.
  2. splittinghairs

    splittinghairs New commenter

    If you want to leave before Easter you will have to ask the headteacher and they will have to agree to this. For what it's worth, if you're upfront and explain that you don't feel as though you can return to the place of work the head should be insightful enough to see that means that they will be paying you to be off sick as well as cover, therefore seeing an early release would be best for both of you.

    However, I would strongly suggest you take some time to get better before making such a huge decision. Impulse can cause you to jump to the most drastic fix, some rest and time to de-stress may clarify your perspective a little. Wishing you the best.
    strawbs likes this.
  3. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    You have to resign by the end of February to leave at Easter.
    You can however write to your head, explain the situation and ask for early release. If you are going to be off until Easter because of the ill health associated by the job the head may agree as it means they are not paying sick pay. Contact your union advice line to confirm all this.

    You will not be able to start supply whilst you are under contract to another school who could in theory sue you for breach of contract and the cost of replacing you if you do not resign properl and that means leaving at Easter but maybe earlier if there is mutual agreement.
    strawbs likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    "I'm not ready to give up on teaching yet, as I know I was coping just fine in my previous school,"
    Good for you.

    Resign as soon as possible. Its an absolute tonic. Just knowing that you can leave will be like a huge crushing weight off your chest. I don't think you could leave before Easter, but your school does have the option of releasing you early. Check your specific terms and conditions.

    You may find that once you know you are going, you will feel happier to remain until Easter, as even the most brain dead of SLT realise that it's not worth harrying a member of staff who is going anyway. And that sense of 'sod it, I'm going anyway...' can lead to some really enjoyable, relaxed lessons that the students will love. Which was probably why you became a teacher in the first place.
  5. stephenwaters

    stephenwaters New commenter

  6. stephenwaters

    stephenwaters New commenter

    I agree with the notice advice already given here. I suggest that you contact the Education Support Partnership which is a charity set up to support teachers. They have a 365 34/7 helpline and can give you advice, as well as put you in touch with one of their counsellors. They have helped countless teachers who, like you, are suffering from sleeplessness and anxiety due to the high accountability measures used by some schools. Their web address is https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/ and their helpline number is: 08000 562 561
    You have enjoyed teaching previously and have been successful. You will enjoy teaching and will be successful in another school. Every good wish for the future and for your health.
  7. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    Thank you everyone.

    I am definitely handing my notice in, so I will see what they say about terminating my contract early. I definitely wouldn't start any supply work until after I have officially left this school.

    I hate that I feel this way and I am annoyed at myself for being a failure. The catch 22 is that I feel so rubbish for taking time off that I can't relax. I've been on edge all day. I keep bursting into tears. I tried to sleep in the day, but to no avail. Hopefully the sleeping pills will help me get a good amount of hours tonight.

    Thank again.
  8. splittinghairs

    splittinghairs New commenter

    It takes time to feel settled again when you're off with anxiety. You are not a failure, you're looking after yourself which is the exact opposite of failure! The school will keep going without you, just do your best to recover.
  9. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    I have been back to the Dr's and have been signed off until 15th, which takes me to half term. The Dr made suggestions about going on different, longer term, medication (at the moment I have sleeping pills and pills to help with the panic attacks). She also spoke to me about the possibility of just signing me off until my contract termination date of April 30th, but said we will review it at half term and decide what to do then.

    I don't know how that works. Surely it isn't as simple as just being signed off? I really am not sure if I can face going back... I didn't tell her (or anyone else) this but my last few journeys to work, I thought about driving off the motorway, to avoid going in. Not to die, just to badly injure myself. I can't tell anyone this as I am scared I will be seen as insane and have my kids taken away or social services involved or something.. I am not suicidal.. I just can't face going in to that school, that environment.

    I haven't contacted the school yet or handed my notice in yet. I don't feel strong enough to face them. I don't know what to say or do. I've never been in this situation before...

    In my previous employments (teaching and my previous life in retail management) I would just go in if ill. I once got sent home from school because i went in even though I had lost my voice - I couldn't teach! They sent me home and I took 2 days off. I have never ever had a sick note in my 25yrs of working life. I feel so guilty and like such a failure, esp as I was only at the school a month.
  10. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    Once you have resigned you work up t othe date unless agreed otherwise by the school. It is perfectly acceptable to be signed off until 30th April. If you had told the doctor about driving off the motorway then they would definitely have signed you off!

    You definitely need to resign before rather end of February. You have three weeks from today to do this.

    As far as resigning contact your union first and see if they will give you a case worker. Next
    Email or write the following

    Dear head
    It is regret that I tender my resignationto take effect from (Talk to union about this). As you know I am currently not well and will not be available for work until my doctor deems me fit for work.


    If you have a case worker then ask for all correspondence to go through them .
    redmel likes this.
  11. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    What benefit is there to contacting the union and getting a case worker?

    Can I just send a resignation letter directly to the head stating the 30th April as my leaving date (as per terms of contract) and decide if I am fit for work, after consultation with the doctor, after half term? Would I be at a disadvantage if I just do it myself?

    Being on my 2nd year of teaching, and never having dealings with doctors, sick notes and mental health issues before, I am not fully sure of the protocols.
  12. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    Thank you all for your responses. I feel much less alone since posting in here.
    strawbs likes this.
  13. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    Actually, I have one further question regarding references. I had only been at the school 4 weeks before going off sick, so I doubt I would get a very favourable reference from them - especially if I don't manage to go back for the remainder of my contract.

    If I go on supply, can I ask the supply agency to act as a referee, then also use a previous employer rather than this one? I would get a glowing reference from both of my previous schools.
  14. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    I suggested case worker as you said you felt you couldn’t bear to contact the school directly.

    You are probably right about the reference from current school. You will simply have to put in the letter to future schools that you and the current school were not a good fir - it happens.
    redmel likes this.
  15. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    Thank you for your reply.

    In all honesty I can't bear to contact the union either.

    I am wondering if I can just contact the school via email/letter. I need to find out who I send the sick note to though, so I need to phone really, don't I?

    I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place: I either go back to somewhere that is causing such stress, anxiety, panic attacks and complete and utter misery, but at least then I will get an 'ok' reference, or I take the extended sick leave offer and recover fully, but might find myself with an awful reference and unable to get another job teaching.
  16. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    You need to contact your UNION!
  17. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    Sorry, you must be getting so annoyed with me.

    I phoned the school and told them I have been signed off until the 15th; they told me to send the sick note in.

    I will phone my union tomorrow. I don't know what I'm asking them.
  18. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    I phoned my union today. They were nice, helpful in some ways, but basically said hand in fit note and ask for a copy of the school's occupational sick pay (it's an Academy so may not follow Burgundy Book exactly).

    She then advised me not to rush into anything, but if I did want to negotiate a earlier release date then to do that sooner, rather than later. She advised that with so many staff taking time off (and leaving posts) due to stress, that if a member of staff requests early release, it is far more likely a head will grant it than refuse.. She said I am perfectly ok to apply for other positions while on sick leave, but that I should let the school know in the same way I would if needing to ask for a leave of absence to do so if in school (and obviously can't start any work while still under contract to the school). She then said the decision on the next step is ultimately mine to make.

    Basically my options are:

    Hack it until summer - The benefits are that I would get a better reference and I would obviously be paid. Negatives are that I may not (almost definitely won't) be able to cope and may need to take more sick leave, possibly leading to SSP, which is not at all an option.

    Hand notice in and leave in April - Benefits same as above, but also less time to have to cope. Negatives are same as above plus no idea of pay or work beyond April and no summer holiday pay.

    Hand notice in and negotiate an early release date - Benefits are that I would potentially not have to return at all which would be a massive relief. Negatives would be a limited reference potentially hampering future applications, and no immediate financial security.
  19. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    In Last teaching your previous work in L.A. schools counts towards qualification for occupational sick pay. In Academies I believe that last service is irrelevant and you generally need to have served 12 months in their employ before getting sick pay.
    you definitely need to look into sick pay via the Benefits system, based on your N I record for this current sick leave.

    if you get no sick pay from the Academy, your best interests might be served by resigning and pushing for an early release, especially if you know for certain that you never want to return to work there.
    you could then sign up with agencies and use your previous schools as referees. When applying for teaching posts in the future you then use the agency as your last employer and give a previous school as your second referee.
  20. redmel

    redmel New commenter

    NEU suggested that I would get sick pay, but as if in my first year... not that I would have to wait until I had been there a year.

    I feel absolutely sick now and am shaking.

    I've asked the school for a copy of their policy, but haven't received it yet. I hope I get it Monday as I am not going to be able to sleep again now. I had just had 2 nights of sleeping properly again too.

    I really don't know what to do now.

Share This Page