Reinvent your teaching career

Instead of changing jobs, these teachers changed the sort of school they taught in – and found themselves falling in love with teaching again

Grainne Hallahan

How can we change the future of employment for the better?

You’re sitting at your computer, ready to hit ”send” on your job application.

You’ve made the decision to leave teaching and you’ve found a role that you think it is perfect for you.

But something is holding you back. Are you really ready to turn your back on the classroom? 

We know teachers are leaving in high numbers, very early on in their careers,  but the reasons behind their decisions to swap board pens for boardrooms are varied.   

You may feel like you’re reaching breaking point because of a marking policy, a curriculum change or leadership problems.

Tes Jobs

Time for a change

But before you  write off teaching forever, you could try looking at a school that is different from your current one.

This is exactly what teachers Kirsty Baker and Kate Martin did.

At one point, both were feeling disillusioned with the education system but decided to take a risk and try out drastically different schools.

Martin felt strongly that, although her mainstream state school cared deeply for its students, the funding cuts and ethos passed down from the government left her feeling like she was doing a different job from the one she signed up for.

“I never felt I was able to support, love or nurture students because the classes were so big and the time pressures so great,” she says.

“I wanted to help those students who were in crisis or who are experiencing, or have experienced childhood trauma,” she explains.

Making more of a difference

So, rather than leave teaching altogether, Martin decided to take a risk and try a school that was very different.

A job came up for a teaching role at an alternative provision (AP) school and Martin, who had previously worked as a scriptwriter, decided to give teaching one last shot. 

It paid off. In her role now, Martin feels like she gets the job satisfaction she always imagined teaching would give her.

“In my current school, we are able to build relationships more easily as classes are smaller,” she says.

“We can be more individualised in our approaches. It is a lot of work – time-wise and emotionally – but the sense of family in our school is amazing.”

What Martin gets from her role in the AP school combines her desire to teach with the strong pull she feels to help those students who need that extra support.

“Yes, we are an academic provision that achieves great results. But that is just part of the story. Actually, we’re so much more than that.”

‘Time to breathe’

Baker’s story begins similarly. She qualified as an English teacher and enjoyed teaching in her school in Stockport, Manchester, but kept feeling like there was something missing.

“I was incredibly fortunate as I worked in a great school with a brilliant headteacher, and a wonderful head of department,” Baker explains. ”But classroom life was becoming tough.”

She struggled to find enough hours in the day to do all of the things she wanted to do.

”As a full-time teacher and mum of two, my work-life balance was non-existent,” she says. 

”I regularly stayed late after school planning for the next day, and I took bags of books home, and then there were the long parents’ evenings. My childminder spent more time with my kids than I did.”

So Baker decided to stop waiting for things to change and made the change herself. 

Teaching abroad had always been something that interested her, and when her headteacher put her in touch with a school in Abu Dhabi, Baker made the difficult decision to move herself, her husband and her young family to a new life many thousands of miles away from home.

”We took a risk and it paid off,” she says. ”I love being an English teacher. I loved being an English teacher in the UK, too, but here I’m able to breathe.

”Standards are just as high but I have time to plan, mark, collaborate and communicate with my students and their parents.”

Tes Jobs

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

Latest stories

Covid in schools, GCSEs 2021, teacher safety: LIVE

Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 20/1

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives
Tes Reporter 20 Jan 2021