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.
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.
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?
- Speak with your line-manager.
- Inform them of your plans ahead and the potential decisions you need to make.
- Consider all the various pros/cons once accepting your new job. What is still left for negotiation? Start date? Salary? Part-time hours? etc.
- 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.
- 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?
- Do not ignore your current employer and do not share your plans with somebody where no concrete plans are in place.
- 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 …
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…