Don't do what I did - All I could think about were the golden uplands

19th June 2009 at 01:00

Leaving was as bad a decision as I have ever made; the embodiment of jumping "out of the frying pan and into the fire".

I was struggling in my second year of teaching at a tough school. It wasn't quite as bad as my first year, but there wasn't much in it. I couldn't see the situation getting better and, in my desperation, I fantasised about jumping ship. Surely there could be nowhere worse?

A couple of old-timers tried to dissuade me, but my mind was set and all I could think about were the golden uplands that awaited me elsewhere. Anywhere.

So, like a drowning man, I began to thrash around to find some wreckage to cling to. I was applying to just about anywhere.

Funnily enough, in this frenzy of applications, things did ease up at the school, but I put this down to me being demob happy. I had eyes only for the door marked exit. I thought I would lose face if I changed my mind.

I soon found another school. It seemed as desperate for me as I was for it, and I plunged in and took the job. Again, senior colleagues counselled me to think twice.

At my new school, a culture of blame hung in the air like a bad smell. This all added up to a horrible atmosphere. It wasn't long before I was looking for not only the exit door from the school but also the one from teaching as a profession.

It took me a couple of years to get back on my feet. In the meantime, working as a supply teacher, with long periods of "resting", I had plenty of time to ponder the wisdom of ignoring good, well-meaning advice and the specific advantages of life in the frying pan compared with that in the fire.

Barbara Preston is a primary school deputy headteacher in Surrey. Email your NQT experiences to If we publish your story, you will receive Pounds 50 in MS vouchers.

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