Dear John: Teaching at same primary for five years and feel I'm going mad


I’ve been teaching in the same primary school for since induction, 5 years ago, and feel completely stuck.

I’ve been extremely unhappy since a change in senior management.  I’ve just come off medication for anxiety and depression and feel myself sliding again.  I want to leave but my confidence is having a serious crisis.  I doubting my ability and suitability for the job on a daily basis.  I’ve never felt like this before and feel pathetic.  In my ignorance I though that depression was just a big fuss, little did I know that it would effect me in such a major way.  I recently got married and have been discussing the possibility of starting a family, so things are exciting and I know that my position is the root of all my issues. 

I’m constantly looking for vacancies but allow them to pass me by as I’m worried about the whole process.  The possibly starting a family has confused the issue further, do I stay and receive maternity benefits or leave and wait?

I feel like I’m going mad and I apologise for my ramblings as I just cannot make sense of anything.  Any pearls of wisdom?


Firstly, you are not going mad. You are same able person you always have been and with the added advantage of a loving partner with whom you are now contemplating starting a family. This should be a happy time for you but the re-balancing of priorities and the uncertainty has caused some panic to set in. It is time to talk things through with others. I assume your partner is happy about the family decision: if so and there are no problems, you may have an outcome before the time to resign in the summer term comes around. That would allow you to take maternity leave and consider your options after the birth of your child. I wonder if this is what your brain is trying to tell you and that is why you cannot take a decision about a new job?

Enjoy life and it will help you conceive in a way that anxiety won’t. If by the autumn, there is no pregnancy, then it will be time to look to your career while you sort out the problem. But, for now, I think you know what you really want. The very best of luck, and let us know what happens.


John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training and consultancy, including a brief period as a chief government advisor. John is now a recruitment analyst, visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University and hosts our Career Clinic where you can post questions to him.