Changing schools is a big deal – perhaps bigger than you might first think.
There are resignation windows to think about, a new school ethos, a new headteacher, a possible extra 20 minutes on your commute, not to mention the crucial issue of parking spaces.
There is a lot to consider.
A new school means a new start, but perhaps this is a good thing. Being the new person takes you out of your comfort zone – and that could be exactly what you need.
To prevent you from potentially jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, though, here are seven things to take into account before you make that move.
1. The grass isn’t always greener
Think hard about why you really want to leave. Is it to progress your career? Or is it because you are currently not seeing eye to eye with a colleague?
Avoid making a decision in haste and be sure to discuss it with people you trust.
Sometimes we might just ”fancy a change” but that is potentially dangerous.
I nearly left a teaching position I really liked because I was going through a tough time personally and I wanted a change of scene.
I applied for a job and attended the interview but came to my senses in the nick of time. It can be difficult to see the positives when other things in your life are bad, but change for the sake of change is rarely helpful.
2. Switching things up
If you are feeling restless and like you need a new challenge, could you take on another role in your current school?
Could you take additional responsibility, such as mentoring a new teacher or providing an extracurricular activity?
If you do decide to take the plunge, explore potential new schools carefully. Does their ethos chime well with your values and beliefs?
It can be hard to tell from a school’s website whether it would be right for you. If you can, arrange a visit. If you have a contact at the school, quiz them about staff relationships and wellbeing, and find out if there if a high staff turnover.
4. Practical considerations
I place ethos above everything. If I like a school, then I am happy to put myself out and commute a bit further if needs be.
However, not everyone has that luxury, therefore it is essential to think about practical things like the commute (including the cost) and working hours.
You should also find out what professional development opportunities there are, as well as the likelihood of promotion – if that is something that interests you.
Be sure to be aware of the variations in salary between local authorities (teachers in inner London get paid considerably more than those in outer London or on the fringes, for example).
Academies and free schools can operate outside the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), however most offer pay scales that are very similar to the STPCD, although it is always prudent to check.
6. Resignation dates
Schools are unlike any other organisations when it comes to handing in your notice. I have tried explaining this to non-teachers and I am usually met with confused stares.
Of course, it is best to give as much notice as possible. However, most teachers usually have to give just half a term (unless your contract states otherwise).
If you wish to leave at Christmas, the deadline for handing your notice in is 31 October. To leave at Easter, the deadline is end of February and to leave by following the summer holiday, the deadline is 31 May.
Be aware that sometimes these dates fall in the holidays.
There are many unwritten rules regarding teaching applications. As the interview process takes a day, I am always upfront with my current employer that I am job-hunting.
You also have to be prepared to say on the day of the interview whether or not you would accept the job, if offered.
Be clear in your mind as to what you will say when asked this question.
If you have any doubts, do not be afraid to state them, although be aware that this may count against you. It is, however, better to be sure rather than feeling pressured to accept an offer and have regrets later.
Gemma Corby is a freelance writer and former special educational needs and disability coordinator