Job hunting: How do you know if you're ready to move schools?

You're considering taking the leap and applying for a new role before next September, but how do you know for sure that you're ready to go? Assistant head Aidan Severs offers his advice

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Scouring job adverts, visiting prospective schools, completing application forms and enduring rounds of interviews is enough to put anyone off leaving the comfort of their current job. But there comes a time for most teachers when they consider moving to another school.

And if you are considering moving, then this is the point in the year when you will be weighing up your options and deciding if you are ready to make a leap before next September.

In an age of five-year plans, teachers can often feel the pressure to move on, but this way of thinking can lead you to make decisions for arbitrary reasons. Job hunting is a stressful process, so you want to wait until the time is "right" before throwing yourself into it. So, what are the signs that you really might be ready for a move?

You’re unhappy  

The obvious one first. For whatever reason, you’re unhappy in your current position, you suspect things might be different at another school and you’re willing to give moving a try. Signs of unhappiness might not always be obvious, but if you find yourself complaining a lot, sleeping and eating badly, or are experiencing stress that is manifesting emotionally or physically, it might be time to move. Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.

You’re bored  

Even if you are not exactly feeling unhappy, you could find yourself feeling disengaged and under-challenged. You might find yourself making less of an effort where you once gave your all. If you get on with colleagues, children’s behaviour is brilliant and there are no workload issues, yet you’re disinterested, a change could be in order.

You’re considering it

If looking for a new job is even on your mind, this can be a sign that you’re ready to move on. While it might just seem like a casual thought at first, the feeling could quickly grow into something more urgent. Consider whether it would be best to take the plunge now before that readiness turns into boredom or unhappiness and you have to wait another year to leave.

You want other opportunities...

...but your school can’t or won’t provide them. Perhaps you want to move into another position, maybe in leadership, but there aren’t any roles available at your school. Maybe you want to try a school within a different catchment area or fancy teaching a different age group. If you know that it’s unlikely your school can cater for your ambitions, it might make sense to move on.

You’re not developing

Regardless of whether you want to stay in the classroom or move into leadership, you shouldn’t feel that you are stagnating in your career. It might be because your school is not actively developing staff, or because you have become too comfortable and are just going through the motions. In this scenario, a move can revitalise you and keep you learning.

You just want to

If you didn’t identify with any of the above, but you still have itchy feet, that doesn’t mean that you need to stay put. But in this case, it might help to think more carefully about what could be holding you back and weigh up your options before making any rash decisions. Sometimes there is no right or wrong option and you ultimately just have to follow your gut.

Aidan Severs is an assistant vice principal at a primary school in the North of England. He blogs at ThatBoyCanTeach and tweets @thatboycanteach

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