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Don't burn your bridges

The deadline for Easter resignations is fast approaching. But when you're drafting your farewell letter,a sense of grace might do you a favour, writes Jill Parkin

Dear Head, Please accept this as notice that I will be leaving Rip Van Winkle Juniors at the end of the current term.

Much as I appreciate a calm working environment in which to work, in recent months I have noticed that most of my colleagues are hardened Ovaltine addicts.

I hope to find a more can-do ethos in my new position at Wideawake Community School and I wish you luck in finding someone to replace me. Might I suggest that you perhaps place an advert in Methuselah Monthly?I The spring term resignation date is almost upon us - February 28 for an April 30 departure. But how do you do it gracefully? De-mob happy you may be, but your resignation letter is not the place to settle old scores, nor to be too frank.

For a start, your present head could well be one of your refereees for future moves. And who knows? - she may even be your boss again in another school.

Your resignation letter will stay on file at the school you're leaving or at county hall for a long time. So while you may relish the chance to come out with some home truths, others will see your letter as saying a great deal about you.

It doesn't need to be long. Your head probably knows already that you're planning to leave - especially if he or she has been asked for a reference. Or you may already have discussed the matter with the head personally. If, after a period of cool reflection, you still feel that there are criticisms you wish to make, you should either do it face-to-face with the head, or, if appropriate, write a letter to the school governors or your local education authority.

You're aiming for a professional and friendly tone in your letter. Pomposity, unctuousness and offensiveness should all be avoided - and so should how-to-write-a-resignation-letter websites such as the US-based one that offers the following sample paragraph:

"My relationship with you has always been professional, warm and results-oriented. I have accepted a position that will enhance my career growth and will expose me to new challenges and opportunities which I believe are in my best interest. Should you flatter me with an offer to remain, I could not, under any circumstances, consider it. My decision is irrevocable and final. (Head's first name), I have the utmost respect for you and wish nothing but the best for you and the school."

Yuck!

Something along these lines would be much more suitable: Dear Head Please accept this as my officialresignation. As you know, I have been offered a job as French and Spanish teacher at Weatherburn High, which has recently been given special languages status. It's an exciting opportunity to expand thecurriculum and to help to introduce a community language service.

I have very much enjoyed my time at Fieldfare High and have valued your support and commitment to professional development. I would also like to thank you for agreeing to be one of my referees in my job application.

I am happy to help with trainingor interviewing during the remainder of my time here. My official leaving date will be April 30.

With very best wishes to you and the schoolI Remember that teachers, including deputy heads, are under two months'

notice and in the summer term, three months' notice. To leave on December 31, you should hand in your written resignation by no later than October 31; for April 30, by February 28; and for August 31, by May 31.

In order to leave your job on the right note, make sure that all your paperwork is up to date and that the headteacher and your successor know exactly where to contact you in case they need help to tie up any loose ends in the first few weeks of next term.

GO IN PEACE: HOW TO STAY ON GOOD TERMS

* Date your letter.

* Get right to the point. Start off by saying you are giving notice of your intention to resign.

* Say where you're going, with as much or as little detail about your next position as you wish. Most importantly, don't get personal.

* Be sure to say when your last day of employment will be.

* You may wish to say how the new job fits your career plans.

* You should also thank the head for any opportunities and encouragement you've had.

* Wish the school well and offer to help with interviewing or training for your replacement.

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