How to resign: Getting your resignation letter right

18th January 2018 at 11:00
Teacher resignation letter
Leaving your school can be a difficult enough task without the added stress of worrying about what to write in your resignation letter. We have everything you need to know about how to resign including a sample resignation letter.

In this article:

  • Write a letter rather than send an email
  • Include your final date of employment
  • Check your resignation dates
  • Remain professional
  • Don't burn your bridges
  • Speak to your line manager face-to-face before handing in your resignation letter

First of all, congratulations! Your application was successful, your interview lesson was thorough and your interview skills were impressive, and now you’ve got the job.

Here comes the final hurdle: getting your resignation letter right.

A resignation is like the professional equivalent of a break-up: it’s not nice to do, but you just have to get through it knowing it’s for the best. This story will hopefully explain all you need to know about your resignation letter.


Resignation dates

Resignation dates restrict teachers as to when they can hand in their notice. James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge, the union for middle leaders, says if you are having an interview for a new role, know when your last day would be.

“The first thing to be aware of is the dates and deadlines for when you can hand in your resignation. Anybody going for an interview will need to be aware of when they are."

It's good practice to get your resignation in as soon as you get the written confirmation of your new job offer, Bowen explains. "While you have no obligation to hand in your resignation before the deadline, your current school will appreciate it if you do so at the earliest opportunity.

"It is also always good to have a face to face meeting with your line manager first rather than go in cold with something in writing.”

How to resign?

Firstly, make sure you don’t formally resign until you’ve got the written confirmation of the job offer from the new school. This will restrict the potential of any embarrassing incidents later on.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, explains: “Ideally, this should be done in person with the headteacher, indicating that you are leaving and will be giving them your resignation letter shortly – you can take it with you to give to the head (and may need to if you are tight on a resignation deadline).

“If you are on an interview on the last date for resigning, then you should have a conversation with the headteacher and make arrangements to speak with them as soon as you know the outcome, and to submit your resignation electronically if necessary.”

While resigning presents the opportunity to finally give that headteacher you’ve disagreed with over the years a piece of your mind, it’s never a good idea to burn bridges. The teaching profession can sometimes be a small world and you never know who you’re going to run into again.

Bowen recommends remaining professional: “I think it is important to remembering to handle yourself professionally throughout the resignation process and after. For example, this is unlikely to be the best time to start airing a range of historical grievances. 

"Education is a reasonably small world and you never know who 10 years down the line you might bump into – burning your bridges is never a good idea.”

What should be in a resignation letter?

This is the important part, where you have to make sure you have all bases covered for what needs to be in the letter.

Trobe explains what should be in your resignation letter: “It is important to make clear in the resignation letter what will be your final date of employment (eg, 31 August 2018). You may need to seek clarification of what this will be if you are leaving at Easter because of the moveable nature of the spring term end and summer term start.

"You would usually thank the school for the support that you have been given in your time there and you may wish to name people that have been particularly helpful to you. It is polite to say what post you are going to and to wish the headteacher and the school well for the future.”

Example resignation letter

Here is an example resignation letter by forum contributor Theo Griff:



Dear Mr Smith

Resignation from post of Teacher at Grungy Green School 

I wish to confirm that I am resigning my post of teacher at Grungy Green School with effect from 1 September 2016.  My last date of employment will thus be 31 August 2016, and my last date of attendance will be (put in date of last day of term).

I would like to thank you and the rest of the teachers at Grungy Green School for the support that you have given me throughout my time here. I have much enjoyed working as a part of this team, and appreciate the opportunities that I have had for personal and professional development. I shall ensure that my remaining time working with the students of Grungy Green School will be as successful as the earlier terms.

Yours sincerely,


A.N.O. Teacher


Is an email enough?

While an email is legally sufficient, a letter is best practice, Trobe explains: “Although an email will legally cover your resignation, it is best to give a physical letter. I would recommend following up an email with a written version if you have to use an email to legally cover yourself, eg, resigning on the final day when you are geographically distant.”

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