Whatever your reason for resigning, you will always have to write a resignation letter. Your school might be aware that you're moving on because you were applying for jobs, or because you're moving away. However, from a legal point of view, it isn't over until that resignation letter is written.
One final hurdle: getting your resignation letter right.
There is no reason to think that a resignation letter has to be a painful or emotional task, and this guide will talk you through everything you need to know to get it right.
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, then check what your expected start date will 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."
If you are leaving to take up a new position in a different school, then it's good practice to get your resignation in as soon as you have signed your contract with the new school, 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?
Resignations should be a short letter, and hand delivered to the head. If you are moving to a different school, then your head would be aware you were thinking of leaving because you would have been attending interviews, and the head would have written a reference. If you are leaving for another reason, then it would be a good idea to let them know verbally, before you hand in your letter.
Sometimes, the timings of interviews and resignation dates can make this difficult. Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, explains: “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, the resignation letter is absolutely not the place to do it.
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."
Instead, ask for an exit interview, and express any serious concerns you have in a professional and calm way.
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 2018. My last date of employment will thus be 31 August 2018, 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.
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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