Should I stay or should I go?
We’re fully in the swing of another academic year. Naturally this is a time when many start to reflect on whether to think about a job move, especially if you’re feeling ready for a new challenge or you’re considering where you might like to teach once you complete your initial teacher education. With a resignation deadline looming, what useful points should we mull over when making this decision? These questions might help.
How do you feel about work today?
If you’re happy, secure and thriving, there’s little point in moving unless you have to for personal reasons. But if you are dissatisfied or simply ready for new challenges, you have great motivation to start looking around at the possibilities. A simple exploration of the pros and cons of moving school will really help in the initial stages.
What exactly do you want?
Make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for if you decide to move on. Have a list of “must haves” and “would be good to haves”. What lines would you draw? What can you be flexible over?
How and what would you be teaching?
Before applying for a vacancy, find out as much as you can about the school and its curriculum. Their website will be a great starting point for this. Look at published policies and any clues you get about their approach to, for example, behaviour management, assessment and marking, and professional development. Does the school publish a definition of learning that is shared by the staff?
What type of school?
Regardless of where you are now, make sure you are clear about the implications of a change of school. Who would your new employers be? Who would be able to support you in the event of an issue arising? How is the school defined in law? There are several different types of schools. For example, community schools, foundation and voluntary schools, schools with a religious character (faith schools), academies, grammar schools, special schools, free schools, city technology colleges, state boarding schools and independent (private) schools. The list goes on! Do some research on each category of school that you’re interested in.
Can you visualise being there?
It’s impossible to know exactly what you’d be doing on a day to day basis before actually applying for a job but if there are certain responsibilities associated with the post, can you actually envisage yourself in the role? Does it offer you the career progress you desire? What about location? Would the journey to and from work be achievable in a time that wouldn’t have a detrimental impact on your wellbeing?
It's not you... It's me…
All relationships need nurturing, not least the relationship you have with your place of work. It’s far better to move on sooner rather than later if you feel the opportunities you need to thrive at work aren’t available to you in your current situation. And although this will seem obvious, it’s always worth reiterating – keep things as positive as possible. Careers can take curious turns and you never know when you might encounter current colleagues again in the same, or new, situations.
It pays to be strategic about your job search and any potential career moves. While these points are just food for thought in your initial decision making, we hope they help you to take your next steps with confidence.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.