Dear John: Will several changes of school damage my career?


I am a primary school teacher just outside South East London. I am in my fourth year of teaching and have had three teaching jobs in that time.  Changes were brought about mainly because of personal issues and I am now hoping to start a family.

I am really not enjoying my new school because there are a lot of problems and the school has a history of poor staff retention.  In fact, I was employed to replace an NQT who had left without completing their induction.

I really want to leave as soon as possible due to these problems, as I feel that staying is going to start affecting my health, but I am worried that having worked in so many schools will look bad to future employers. I don’t want to damage my career by leaving, but I feel that it could be damaging my future if I stay as well, because things are so bad at the school, so I don’t know what to do. Any advice very gratefully received.


Clearly, your health comes first. How difficult you will find it to secure another job will depend upon whether primary rolls are starting to rise in your part of the country.  After a long period when there have been too many primary school teachers in the market that may becoming to an end and, although it may be too soon to talk of shortages, the market may be returning to a more balanced position between supply and demand in parts of the country. I guess you need to start looking and see what response you get. Perhaps, with three schools under your belt, you might even start to consider jobs with some extra responsibility attached. However, if you are living somewhere where competition is still fierce for posts in the primary sector, you will need to make sure that your application form makes a virtue out of a necessity. You predicament also shows why rushing into a job without deciding whether you can work at the school is never a good idea.

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