Becoming a teacher can be a great job. No doubt about it. Yes, you have the long holidays and yes, you can be home a good two hours earlier than those poor sardines commuting to and from the City each day, but is it an easy way to make a living? Is it well paid? Is a classroom a pleasant environment to spend your working life, well, working in?
The answers to these questions are a resounding no, at least if the statistics from Whitehall's Independent Spending watchdog are anything to go by. In 2011 only 62% of NQTs (newly qualified teachers) were still teaching a year later, compared to 2005, when 80% were still teaching after a year.
These days it seems as if the problem is getting steadily worse, with more and more teachers looking into how to get out of teaching.
In 2014, 11% of teachers, NQTs and experienced ones alike, left the teaching profession completely, showing that time has done nothing to alleviate an already desperate situation. This has left many secondary schools struggling to fill teacher vacancies, particularly in some subjects, such as Science and Maths. It is not just the regular teaching positions either that are remaining vacant: schools have reported increasing difficulties in appointing staff to senior teaching posts and head teacher positions.
The reasons for this mass exodus are many, although there are many recurrent ones; stress, workload, low pay, bad behaviour, and lack of respect, to name a few, the reasons for the recent hike in the number of teachers abandoning the education system are largely associated with the constant changes to the national curriculum which are confusing and overwhelming teachers and students alike.
Although each change to the policies on the way in which school pupils should be assessed has been made with the intention of making the system more traditional and (supposedly) easier to understand, it seems that the UK government's efforts to reform the way in which pupils gain their academic qualifications has done the opposite.
The new system places high importance on the assessment of student progress, and as such, the amount of tests pupils are expected to sit has increased significantly, and more time spent testing means less time spent teaching as well as a significant increase in the amount of marking for teachers.
The nature of the government's new policies, as well as the way in which have been implemented, seem to be a major factor when it comes to making the decision to leave teaching. With an education system which seems to be losing resemblance to the one that attracted so many talented individuals to become teachers in the first place, it's no wonder so many teachers are opting for a career change.
Who wants to spend all their working lives telling pupils to be quiet and showing them how to behave properly only to go home to a pile of tests waiting to be marked?
Certainly not you and I, if you are reading this post with intent.
How to Leave The National Teaching Service
Are you thinking of leaving? How should you proceed?
Here's what leaving the NTS generally looks like:
- Decide when you would like to leave and work out the deadline to give notice of this
- Inform your employer of your intent to leave (as an informal courtesy)
- Write your letter of resignation
- Hand in your official resignation letter (as formal notice of your intention)
- Work for the remainder of your notice period
To leave your position as a teacher with the National Teaching Service you need to write a formal letter of resignation and give it to your head teacher, who will then inform the school's Board of Governors of your intent to leave.
A good resignation letter can be short and concise, detailing just the essentials, i.e. that you are leaving your post and clearly stating the date on which you will be leaving. You do not have to explain the whys and wherefores, but you should, however, keep the tone positive and upbeat.
An exceptional letter of resignation though, will achieve this and more, leaving the head teacher with a positive feeling towards you. This will help to reinforce or establish a basis for positive references if they are ever required in the future.
Whatever your reasons for quitting, it's important that you maintain your professionalism during the resignation process.
Personal grievances and problems should be avoided at all costs, along with detrimental remarks about other members of staff. Even if you are leaving the school on bad terms, writing bad comments about the staff, school or job will not bode well for the future and only serves to make you seem petty, and it is likely to make working through your notice period far more awkward than is necessary.
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To leave the head teacher with a good affinity towards you, you should include in your job resignation letter any responsibilities you have held along with thanks for the knowledge and experience you have gained. Contributions to the department or school should also be emphasised as should gratitude for opportunities given.
Losing an employee can have a significant impact on a school, especially if it is only small, so taking the time to inform your headteacher that you will be giving notice before you submit your official letter will go a long way in terms of keeping the running of the school as smooth as possible. In addition, delivering your signed resignation letter in person will give you the opportunity to discuss your decision with your headteacher as well as to personally thank them for the time you have spent at their school. All of these things will leave a positive image of you in their mind and make for an easier departure.
Deciding When to Leave your Teaching Position
Teachers do not have the luxury of just working one months' notice and then being able to leave, for obvious reasons. Schools would be left in disarray, pupils would be negatively affected and this would undoubtedly impede exam success.
Teachers are obliged to give at least half a term's notice of their intent to leave and they are only permitted to leave at the end of a completed term, i.e they are not allowed to leave a the end of a half term unless this is agreed mutually by the teacher and the employer.
Therefore, for a teacher to leave at the end of the school year or Summer term (31st August), notice must be given by 31st May. To leave at the end of the Autumn term (31st December), notice must be given by 31st October. To leave at the end of the Spring term (30th April) notice must be given by 28th February.
The rules are slightly different if you're leaving a head teaching post. Head teachers need to give one month's additional notice so their dates would be 30th April, 31st January and 3oth September respectively.
The situation is different for Scotland however, where unpromoted teachers only have to give 4 weeks notice and promoted teachers 2 months.
Of course, the date you choose to leave your teaching job will depend on many factors, such as where you currently are in the academic year, the start date of your new job (if you have one lined up), whether you feel that your pupils would be negatively impacted by your leaving and if you have any upcoming commitments within the school community.
Although the official end-of-term rule is obviously in place to minimise the impact of the loss of teachers on schools and their pupils, sometimes the long notice period is not enough. For instance, year-6 teachers who are preparing their class for SATs may choose to stay until the end of the academic year to ensure that their students' progress is not disrupted by the introduction of a new teacher.
As you will know, teachers are prominent figures within the local community and therefore within the lives of their young students, and so this makes the way you go about leaving your teaching career all-the-more important. For this reason, it is imperative that you are as considerate as possible when choosing your final day and informing others of your decision, regardless of your circumstances.
However, it's not always easy to plan so far ahead, and you may need to leave teaching at short notice for a variety of reasons, but even in cases where you are required to make difficult compromises, consideration for your employers, colleagues, students and their parents will go a long way.
Here is a brief summary of the deadlines for giving notice of your resignation each term:
|Intended Final Term||Last Day of Term||Teacher Deadline for Notice of Resignation||Headteacher Deadline for Notice of Resignation|
|Autumn||31st December||31st October||30th September|
|Spring||30th April||28th February||31st January|
|Summer||31st August||31st May||30th April|
Handing in your Resignation Letter
Resignation letters should be delivered by hand to the intended recipient, in the case of teaching, the head teacher. Choose the time to do this sensibly; make sure that they will have the time to see you and that they are not running late for something or about to go rushing off to attend a meeting. Arrange a time with their secretary to go and see them if necessary.
You owe it to yourself and them to deliver your letter without feeling pressured by time.
The head teacher will most certainly want to talk to you about your decision and your future plans. They may even show regret at your decision if you have been a valued member of staff. Obviously, if you are leaving on bad terms you will not hang around chatting with the head, but you may wish to 'offload' a little, explaining the reasons behind your decision, although do this with caution - you won't want to create an uncomfortable atmosphere when you still have to work for another half term.
One important point to note when crafting your letter of resignation is that format: such documents should always be handed in in physical format, never via email or post. A resignation letter should also be personally signed.
Should your circumstances make you unable to hand-deliver your letter of resignation, the TES advises that teachers send their resignation via email and follow the email up with a physical letter. Although this may not suit the convention of in-person resignation, sending your letter in an email will cover you legally.
A headteacher resigning from their post will need to hand in their letter of resignation to the school's Board of Governors.
Whatever your reasons for leaving may be, be sure to read up on your rights over redundancy pay.
Redundancy pay, also known as severance pay is a sum of money awarded to former teachers who have been made redundant. Redundancy pay is only available to teachers who have spent at least 2 years at their job. The amount of severance pay you're entitled to is dependent on the amount of time you have spent teaching at your school as well as your age at the time of teaching.
Put simply, the total amount of redundancy pay you will receive is equal to the number of complete years of service multiplied by the proportion of your weekly salary associated with your age group during that time.
The three age groups and multipliers are as follows:
- Under 22: 0.5
- 22-41 years old: 1
- 41 and over: 1.5
If you're unsure about how much you're entitled to, you can on the government's redundancy pay calculator.
Example letters of Resignation from the National Teaching Service
The internet is flooded with examples and templates of resignation letters for teachers wondering how to write a resignation letter that is fit for purpose. Some are good, some bad. You could choose a particular resignation letter sample or letter template if you are unsure of how to proceed and then adapt it to your own personal requirements.
But what should your letter of resignation include?
There is no strict way in which letters of resignation should be structured, nor are there any rules regarding the content of your letter apart from the crucial information it should include:
- The position from which you are resigning
- Your last day of employment
- Your contact details
Of course, there is a number of things you may wish to add to make your letter more personal and less of a formality. For instance, you might mention some of the reasons for your resignation; maybe you're hoping to spend more time looking after your family, or possibly you've accepted another job offer which requires you to relocate.
It's also common for employees to thank their employer for the opportunities they have provided throughout the duration of their employment, as well as the experience gained and the skills the employee has acquired during the role which they will use going forward.
Being specific when thanking your employers can make your letter even more personal; so think about specific points and career-defining moments in your time at the school which don't just make your job memorable, but which also make you a memorable employee. Reminding your headteacher of the things you have achieved during your teaching position will also give them lots to refer to should they ever need to provide a reference for you in the future.
However, don't be tempted to turn your letter into an essay. Letters of resignation represent your official notice of leaving your post, and should, therefore, be kept concise. If you feel that your letter is getting too long or even too personal, you can always save anything you miss out for your chat with the head when you hand your letter in. This will not only keep your letter short and sweet, but it will also lighten the mood of the meeting and reduce the likelihood of uncomfortable silences.
When you have handed in your letter of resignation, you will still have to work for least a half term.
You owe it to the pupils to ensure that you are present and that your work is still as good as it was before you handed in your resignation letter.
Having notified the school of your intent to resign from a job is not an excuse for allowing your standards and attendance to slip. Remember, the pupils deserve your full abilities and you also want to leave the school with a good impression of you.
You never know, in the future you may need a reference from the head teacher or your head of department, so you will want to ensure that their impression of you is positive up until the day you finally part ways with them.
Now that you've decided to leave teaching, start to think about what you'll do next. Learn more about how tutoring jobs and online tutoring jobs can be a great way to move on from teaching at Superprof.
Becoming a private tutor is a natural progression for ex-teachers, especially if they are passionate about honing the unique abilities of each individual. It's also a great way for ex-teachers to bridge the gap during the transition between their teaching career and their new job, and as someone who is more than familiar with the school curriculum as well as the answers SATs, GCSE and A Level examiners are looking for, you'll have little trouble finding clients!
So, handing in your letter of resignation needn't mark the end of your role as an educator - in fact, it may even be the start of a whole new chapter in your teaching life in which you support students outside of the classroom rather than inside it.
Regardless of your reasons for leaving the National Teaching Service, being confident about submitting your letter of resignation will only benefit you in the future. Maintaining a positive relationship with your employer and your former colleagues will not only help you to view your time at the school in a positive light, but it will also give you confidence in the future as you realise all of the reasons why your decision to leave teaching was the right one.
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