Teacher Resignations: What To Do?


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shutterstock_217461136 Office chair with a RESIGNED sign isolated on white background

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How should you resign from your teaching position?

It’s always the season for teachers moving on to new horizons. In my time as a teacher, applying for jobs, handing in my own resignations as well as receiving them, here is my seasoned advice.

Procedure:

First and foremost, most state school teachers in England are bound by their school contract and The Burgundy Book which influences the (STPCD) School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document. These may vary according to schools and level of employment, but typically teachers are expected to give one term’s notice before leaving any school. For senior teachers, it is often two full terms and more for more senior posts i.e. executive headteacher. The Burgundy Book (section 3, paragraph 4.1) national conditions of service agreement for teachers ask for under two months’ notice and in the summer term, three months’ notice, terminating at the end of that school term.

Resignation Windows

In today’s market, with so many academies, free schools and independent school operating their own terms and conditions outside of mainstream school structures, it is critical all teachers read carefully through their contracts. For the purposes of resignations and notice periods, the dates of the three English school terms are (broadly) deemed to be:

  • for the autumn term, from 1 September to 31 December inclusive;
  • for the spring term, from 1 January to 30 April inclusive;
  • for the summer term, from 1 May to 31 August inclusive.

Therefore, teachers who wish to leave their jobs should observe the following deadlines when giving their notice:

  • to leave at 31 December, give notice by no later than 31 October;
  • to leave at 30 April, give notice by no later than 28 February;
  • to leave at 31 August, give notice by no later than 31 May.

It is important to note that these provisions only allow teachers to resign their posts with effect from the end of term. It is also critical to understand that the teacher-jobs market is evolving and that recruitment is becoming an all-year-round process. This will have some implications on types of contracts and resignation dates.

What to do?

If you have an interview or have accepted a new post, what should you do next?

  1. Speak with your line-manager.
  2. Inform them of your plans ahead and the potential decisions you need to make.
  3. Consider all the various pros/cons once accepting your new job. What is still left for negotiation? Start date? Salary? Part-time hours? etc.
  4. Consider what position you will leave your school in to replace you? The more time schools have, the better your school HR team will have to advertise and recruit somebody new. This will also leave you with plenty time to hand over key projects and ensure your teaching classes are left in a good position.
  5. When writing your letter of resignation, you should state that, although you are giving two months’ notice to take effect on 30th April or 31st May, you will be starting work at your new workplace from the start of the summer term or new academic year (e.g. 1st September) and do not expect to be paid from that date as you will no longer be available for work.

There is no obligation to do so, but often advice on the process involved in another school may be given or explained. Of course, sharing your plans may not be possible for several reasons: confidentiality, conflict of interest or worse, reprisal. Some may also feel they want to keep their options private until a decision has to be made, or references and interviews are requested.

What not to do?

And what should you avoid?

  1. Do not ignore your current employer and do not share your plans with somebody where no concrete plans are in place.
  2. At some point, your headteacher or senior member of staff will receive a reference request. It is always good practice/manners to go and ask for permission. Don’t assume that somebody will write you a glowing reference with less than 12 hours notice. If you give them a ‘heads up’, they can start preparing what to write in advance and ensure you are best placed for your new job …
  3. Don’t apply for every job available! Your school will likely have a ‘number of days’ granted paid-leave to facilitate you finding a new place of work. Sometimes arrangements can be made with your headteacher in exceptional circumstances. For example, relocating. Sometimes a one-day interview may require two actual days travelling and returning in-between the process.
  4. If you leave employment without giving the full amount of notice required by law, your employer may be prepared to grant an early release from your contract. However, you could also expose yourself to unfortunate consequences. Worst case, references or pay could be withheld. However, this is very rare in my experience.
  5. Decide when it is best to let colleagues, pupils and parents know. If appointed, the mood of others will change around you.  Your workload will become two-fold as you wrap projects up and begin new ones before you’ve stepped foot outside the school gates.

A teacher has no legal right to a reference at all and cannot challenge its contents unless it is inaccurate and/or malicious.” (Source) Do check the guidance as terms and conditions change on an annual basis…

 


58 thoughts on “Teacher Resignations: What To Do?

  1. Hey there!

    My girlfriend is quite worried about this. She basically has sent in her letter of resignation and also signed the new contract to start on the 22nd May. She signed these today on the 14th March. I should say that she decided that she could not stand to be at this school as her head of department calls her bad names and treats her poorly.

    In your experience, other than the bad recommendations from the headteacher and withheld pay. Is there any other things they may do to her?

    I appreciate the time to read this and respond, so thank you.

    1. Hi

      I am in a similar situation, am terrified to leave before my contractual notice period. But absolutely have to. Did her school end up doing anything to her? I just want to know what will legally happen to me if I leave before my notice period.
      Any advice would be hugely appreciated
      Thanks

  2. I have resigned a month back .. and they only give me salary of the days I go to school and not for the whole month .. is this legal ? What should I do ?

      1. Hi

        I am unhappy in my current school. I have a job offer for September but because I’m past the 31 May cut off date, my head will not allow me to resign before 31 Oct. My head said that there will be consequences if I resign before that. The other school may not wait. What is the worse case scenario for breaching the contract? Will they seek legal action against me ?

      2. You could be asked to return your salary at best, at worst, the school may take legal action, but I suspect beyond initial threat in writing, it may not lead to anything.

  3. Hi there,

    I’m suffering from stress at work. I provided a medical note and sent an email to the principal stating my concerns and asking for early resignation. No response so far. My contract ends in August. Can I hand in a resignation with 1 month notice due to stress, or can I only send a resignation with a notice according to the contract which is an august? What is the best way to handle this?

    1. You may be able to ask re. extenuating circumstances and it’s often at the school’s discretion. Worst case, you will need to serve notice as per your contract – as you would expect the school to do so also, but circumstances are the exception. Good luck.

  4. Hi there,

    If I tell my headteacher there is a position elsewhere that I want to go for and the interview is before the resignation deadline, will he still want my resignation beforehand or allow me to try for the position and if I don’t get it still have my current job in the new academic year?

    1. You can go for the job interview first. You do not need to resign and hand in any letter until the actual resignation date. However, your school will stipulate ‘how many days’ you can be off-site attending interviews. Check how many are paid/not paid.

  5. If the resignation date actually falls in the half term holiday and you find your dream job advertised just before half term and the advertised job application cut off date is the final day of the half term break, is it too late to apply for it? I have messaged my deputy Headteacher for a reference but if the cut off date for handing in your notice is 31st May and the closing date for applications for the dream job is 2nd June, (with the interview of shortlisted applicants a few days later), what are my chances of getting an early release from my contract in order to take up the dream job at the start of September? I am suffering from stress caused by workload, atmosphere and undermining/bullying, which I have reported but it has got worse. I dont want to make a fuss or cause any trouble. I just want to be allowed to leave.

  6. Hi, I’m handing in my notice tomorrow (31st May). My new job is not in a school and starts early August. Do I have to tell my current school this, or can I still get paid by them up to 31st August, as I’ve been told the pay over the summer holidays is tied in to the actual work already done since the start of the academic year.

    1. You do not need to tell your school, but you are technically not declaring full details – plus be aware that you ARE employed until the end of 31st August, so the school CAN technically ask you to complete tasks at home or on-site during that time (within reason).

  7. I’m going to be leaving my current job at the end of this year but need to leave a week before the end of term, is that possible? And what would happen with pay in that situation? If I’ve done 38/39 weeks work, then should I receive 38/39ths of holiday pay too? Or will my pay stop at the end of July when I leave?

  8. I’m on a 2 week half term and want to hand my notice in by 31st October so I can leave at Christmas. Can I do this over email to Head/personnel/head of department and hand in a paper letter? Or have I missed the deadline and need to see the job out until April.

  9. Hi, I started at a new school in September and I need to leave as it’s affecting my health. I’ve missed the deadline by just over a week to finish at Christmas and there’s no way in hell I’ll last until the end of April. What’s the likelihood of them letting me leave before then? Is it just two months notice or does it have to be at the end of a term?

  10. Hi,
    I’m unhappy at my daycare center as a teacher, and I’m hired to start a new job in a hospital on Dec 2019.
    Currently, I’m undergoing EAP and on 3 months observation at work due to other family circumstances that my manager knew of as discussed with me; despite that she is still difficult when dealing with me.
    When should I hand in my notice?
    What is the worst case scenario for pay? School closes on Christmas holiday

  11. Hi I have recently started at a new school in September and already had 1 week off on work related stress (which I never had in all my 11 years at my last school). I was so scared of becoming a statistic and of the awful behaviour of the students without SLT support so I handed in my reisgnation in October to leave at Christmas. The problem now is that I cant find another job and becoming increasingly stressed the closer it gets. (I am looking for jobs out of the profession by the way.

    Now I am beginning to feel I might end up.in supply teaching which could be worse.

  12. I started at an academy in September, part time on a permanent contract. I have decided I want to leave the profession completely but have missed the deadline for leaving at Christmas. However, I am still in my probationary period during which time my employer has the right to cancel my contract with one month’s notice- do I have the same right as well?

  13. Hi there,

    I’m unhappy with my work, and I’ve already sent my resignation letter but still they did not accepting it, but as far as I know I have no contract with them and they still saying that it exist, but when I ask them to show it, they have nothing to show ..what will I do?

  14. Hi!
    I work for a small school district that is about an hour and 20 minutes away from where I live and I am currently still finishing my masters in health and have completed a bachelors in PE. The school I work for has been incredibly sketchy since day one. The interview process was simple and I was hired on the spot. During the interview they made no mention of part time , full time anything the job was just posted as a probationary PE position (which typically can be read as full time). During the interview it was discussed that I would just be the PE teacher and that the school was small. It wasn’t until my first paycheck that they told me that I was part time and the week prior to the beginning of the school year they told me I was teaching health as well, but was not discussed in the interview by my employer or in the posted job application.. Being fresh out of school and young this was a dream come true to get a job and now I am 3 months in and my finances and health are gradually declining at an alarming rate. I have reviewed my
    my contract that states nothing of putting in a notice or anything about resigning. I am planning on speaking to the principal/superintendent tomorrow about my resignation. Is it possible for me to resign? If I do not resign immediately I will be in a deep financial hole that I won’t be able to get out of and I have no letters of resignation submitted or have made mention of this to anyone. I have tried to pull through but I mentally and financially cannot continue as it is ruining my financial health.

  15. I have been headhunted for my dream job that is outside of teaching. I have handed in my resignation and have requested early release so that I finish at my school at the February Half Term. My head has refused early release even though it is 11 weeks notice. I cannot turn down the new job as it is my dream, plus I am unhappy in my teaching role and suffering from stress from this whole situation. If I leave at Feb half term and do not stay until April 4th which is my contractual leave date, what are the repercussions of this? What can the school do? Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

    1. Your employer could refuse to pay you and not offer a reference – whether they can or will is another question. I would offer to help recruit/find someone to replace you… You should also consider ‘what if’ you need to return to teaching, your future employer may ask for a reference from this school. It’s all speculation. The best advice is to talk through options with the headteacher and come to an agreement. Go to them with some ‘thoughtful options’ and let them choose.

      1. Thank you for this. I have references from my head of department and faculty. They are all very supportive. Do you know the legality of what the school could do should I breach my contract, I.e what they could sue me for? I am more than happy not to be paid from the day that I leave and will ask this. The situation is not at all about money and I am happy to take no pay from the date I leave. Thanks again

  16. I am currently working internationally but have a post at an independent school in the UK from April. I have verbally agreed and scanned the acceptance letter from my new employer; however unfortunately my family circumstances have changed to the point where I could not afford to make the move with my daughter – fiscally or emotionally; firstly she has terrible panic attacks and the thought of leaving has increased the regularity of these (she is having medical support for this issue). And secondly, originally I accepted believing there would be a school place for my daughter ( this brings with it a discount which I factored into my calculations but she did not get in and we cannot afford the full cost alternative). A maintained school is not an option because of her stress and anxiety, plus we do not know where we would be living because of these financial concerns. I want to withdraw my acceptance – I would be employed here for the two terms and my daughter could stay at the school until the end of this current year – year 10 (even worse). How badly would withdrawing reflect on me professionally and can I do it?

  17. Help!
    Started a new job last week and want to leave. I haven’t signed any form of contract. How can I leave in the best way?

  18. Hello,

    I am not a teacher so I am not sure how this sector works but I am just trying to clarify this to help my parter.

    She is currently working in a secondary school and she got a new job to start in September. What I would like to clarify is whether she would get paid for the summer period if she works in the current school up to end the course. She tells me that if she does not continue working in this school in September, she will not get paid for the summer holidays. I do not think this is fair and just wanted to check if this is legal. In my sector, if you leave your job and still have holidays to take, you get paid for these days (or can leave the job before the notice period ends).

    Like I said I do not know how this sector works so any help is welcome.

    Thanks in advance!

  19. Can you comprehend any other job where you are forced to continue to work for 3 months +for an organisation you want to leave, with a job to go to?
    It’s an outrageous expectation.

  20. Hi there,
    It saddens me to read this thread and see how many people (including myself) are unhappy in their current school.

    I too am going to hand my notice in next Friday and work my terms notice. I have no job to go to as of yet as I have only made this decision in the last week and due to my health and well-being do not wish to stay longer.

    On the reference side of things when applying for new positions I am worried that I would not get a great reference (although there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t). I have been intimidated, threatened and even shouted at whilst at this school and I do not trust getting a good reference from the head. However, I am worried that if I don’t put down my current head/school for a reference that a new school May contact them and this could be worse as there would be no written record?

    So do I just bite the bullet and put down current school or do I just use previous school and have two referees from the same school? (Worked there for 9 years) and only other school I worked at.

    What should I do?
    Thanks in advance.

  21. Hi.
    I have been on sick leave for nearly 8 months due to a heart condition, which has also led to anxiety and stress.

    I have been working with Occ Health and attending counselling and also have been referred for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to try and regain my confidence to stand in front of a class and deliver my subject.

    Unfortunately, my condition is unpredictable and may cause me chest pain and other heart attack symptoms at any time, so the idea of this happening in front of 30 children is terrifying to me, and unfair to the kids.

    I have seen a job outside of teaching that would be perfect for me, but I am unsure if I can apply as I am currently signed off work by my GP, and what my notice period would need to be under these circumstances.

    I work in Scotland, and I have 28 years experience within the same Local Authority. The closing date for the other job is in a few days.

    Thanks in advance.

  22. I have been signed off sick with Depression for 2 1/2 months and have I think decided to offer my resignation and take a break before deciding my next step. If I hand in my notice presently will my school be obliged to honour an August 31st leave date even though I’ve been on compassionate leave for the past few months? Also if my doctor deems me unfit to work until the Summer Holiday (which they may well do) what likely recourse would the school have to insist I come back to work before the end of my contract on Aug 31?

  23. Hello, I’d really appreciate a reply as this is really worrying me!

    I’m currently at an independent school and, as is normal, I set 31st August as the date for which my contract would end, with my last day at school being in July. However, my new school, a state school, starts back in late August. I’ll be going from a full-time position to a part-time position, due to begin actually teaching on 28th August. Do I need to amend my actual leaving date, or just leave it as 31st August?

  24. Hi,

    I’ve been on stress leave from work for the past 4 weeks now. Recently, I began looking elsewhere for a job and have been offered one today, however my notice period ended on May 31st.

    I was hoping to ask for early release from my HT however due to reasons for initial stress leave I feel like I will be asked to continue until the end of December. I have spoken to my union about this and they informed me that legally there is nothing I can do about this.

    I don’t think I have it in me to go back in September at all, is there anything else I can do?

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