6th June 2003 at 01:00
Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q. I am a full-time classroom teacher who wants to resign. I am thinking about working as a supply teacher, so I need to write a simple letter of resignation that doesn't burn my boats with my head. Is this a problem?

A. This should be no problem as you don't have to give a reason for leaving.

Write a letter saying you have found another post and are submitting your resignation from the date you intend to leave. The normal departure date for the summer has passed as you are required to give three months' notice, including holidays. For most teachers, the notice date is May 31. For those whose autumn term starts before September 1, notice date may be earlier, although custom and practice will usually dictate that the last day of May is acceptable.

Sometimes heads or governors can stick to the letter of the law, rather than its spirit. This usually causes problems only at the start of the summer term, as most schools have returned from their Easter break before April 30. This may be another reason for either a fixed break or a six- term year. If you want a reference and can't leave on good terms, do not leave with a row in progress.

Q. All the temporary contract teachers at the secondary school where I am a part-time teacher have been laid off. I have to visit hospital once a week to have my blood checked; this is why I work part-time. Last October, I had a short spell in hospital, but this is the first time I've been off work in nine years. My head of department has written me a glowing reference, but mentioned my condition. I went for an interview and the panel questioned me about it. I am sure this swayed their decision not to employ me because my observed lesson went well and the interview otherwise seemed fine.

A. If you were applying for a part-time post that did not include the time spent on your regular hospital visit, you have a right to feel that you may have been discriminated against. This is a complicated area of the law and you should contact your professional association and ask for advice. With the present retrenchment in the job market, such discrimination is understandable, but not excusable. There are many teachers with medical conditions successfully holding down posts and they should be entitled to the same opportunities as any other.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Send your career questions to him at

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