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Tales from new teachers

Testing loyalties

Testing loyalties

The problem

I was in my second year of teaching. I felt that I was progressing well and was enjoying life; I had no plans to leave the school where I had completed my newly qualified teacher (NQT) year. But then I got the phone call: a school where I had undertaken a training placement had a job available. It started in January. Did I want it?

I had absolutely loved being at the placement school and had got on well with the senior leadership team. I also knew that the headteacher was eager for young teachers to get leadership experience, whereas at my current school lots of people were ahead of me in the queue for promotion.

I also felt that I would always be seen as the NQT at my present school. I needed to go somewhere I would be regarded as a teacher in my own right. But could I ditch my school in the middle of the academic year? Surely I owed them more loyalty than that?

The options

My friends outside teaching all told me to go for it. If I liked the other school more, wanted to progress in my career and felt it would give me more confidence as a teacher, they thought it was a no-brainer.

My teaching friends were more cautious. One thought it was bad form to leave mid-year and another said I owed the school at least three years' service.

Torn, I took the (possibly risky) decision of confiding in a colleague at work. He saw both sides of the dilemma but felt I had to follow my gut instinct, even if that meant leaving. He advised me to discuss the issue with the headteacher before deciding.

The result

I took my colleague's advice and found the headteacher surprisingly understanding. He agreed that promotion opportunities were slim and thought that moving would be useful for my career at this stage. However, he said the timing could be better. I said I would ask if there was any flexibility on the start date.

Unfortunately there wasn't, and I was ready to turn the job down as a result. But when I informed my headteacher, he just laughed and said, "Worth a try. We'd better see if we can find someone to replace you."

I was so happy I nearly hugged him. I am now two months into my new job and, although I feel bad about leaving mid-term, I already know that moving was the right decision. I feel more confident, free from the shackles of being the NQT and energised by new surroundings where I can test my skills.

The writer is a teacher in the South West of England

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