Ask a careers expert

14th September 2007 at 01:00
Q I have been teaching in the same school for a number of years and feel like a change. I think that I want to move out of the classroom and try something different. However, when I look at jobs outside teaching, I wonder whether the strict rules about leaving at the end of term will hamper me? What would happen to me if I broke my contract and quit in the middle of a term?

A When you signed up to your teaching post, you accepted the terms and conditions: fixed holidays and a longer resignation period than for many jobs. Now you are looking for a change and want out. However, I do have some sympathy. I once negotiated a new post, albeit with the same local authority, over the course of a summer holiday and started immediately when term began, much to the fury of my former head. As I wasn't going back to that school, I took the risk that I wouldn't need a reference later. You will need to weigh up this factor carefully, especially if you have been in the same school for a long period and there is nobody else who can write you a meaningful reference. Many professional level jobs take longer to arrange in the private sector than you might expect, and if you apply now, you might not be offered anything until well into October. With the present state of the job market, many heads might be willing to let you go early, especially around Christmas. If your replacement was on a lower salary, the school might save money. It is unlikely that a school would sue unless it was feeling very vindictive and even then, if your replacement cost less, there would be little financial loss. It could, presumably, report you to the General Teaching Council, but that only matters if you want to return to teaching. If you have stopped giving teaching your best, I would say go sooner rather than later, but not everyone will agree w me***

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