Quitting my NQT year(46 Posts)
Apologies for a very rambly, Sunday night panic sort of post.
I am an NQT who qualified through a well known “leadership programme” (two year grad scheme. I also did a year as an unqualified teacher - this means I started teaching in Sept ‘15, got my PGCE in August ‘17. I’m not fresh out of uni, prior to April ‘15 I worked in marketing.
I’m signed off at the moment with stress and the job has broken me. I’m constantly being told I’m failing my children, I can’t keep up with the marking and I have normalised 60 hour weeks (7-7 at my desk, working through lunch) and additional work at weekends. The SLT are not remotely supportive and my training providers are mostly interested in keeping me on the programme. I’ve realised the job is completely unsustainable for me and my lifestyle...I don’t have a lifestyle because I don’t have a life!
My question goes out to anyone working in teaching or who has quit already and found pastures new...
Should I stick this year out (I am quite certain I have already failed this term, FYI) and quit in July, never to return, or quit in April? I am 100% certain that I do not want to teach and will go back to working in marketing, but I’m really worried about quitting without completing my NQT year. On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s possiblr in my current unsupportive and very difficult workplace. Also, if I stay til July I will be competing with graduates for jobs in my old sector. I would love to hear advice from those who have made the jump, work in teaching or just feel they can help switch off my anxiety brain and get me more than two hours sleep tonight!
Just popping in to say hello.
It's crap, it really is, this time of year. Everyone is getting sick, days are getting shorter and colder and there is so much to do. How long until you finish for Christmas? I remember practically crawling out of the door on 22nd last year.
Are there tutoring opportunities at Primary level? I'm a secondary teacher and considering stopping classroom teaching at the end of the year to build a tutoring business. Worried though that if I step off the carousel I'll never be able to motivate myself to get back on.
Could you change school? I am possibly on the same 'leadership program' I have colleagues who were going to quit teaching, that changed their school and now are much happier. I work in a challenging school but the staff and SLT are super positive and supportive and try to reduce our workload in whatever way they can.
I’m not sure how many schools you’ve worked at so apologies if this is stating the obvious but have you thought about trying another school - they’re not all the same, I promise you! Some are much more reasonable about workload and supportive of new or struggling teachers.
Thanks for your posts. No, I don’t want to stay and look at other jobs in other schools. I don’t know anyone in teaching who isn’t normalising a 50/60 hour working week (including long time qualified teachers), or operating under a considerable amount of daily, relentless pressure. Good schools may exist but I don’t really want to spend my career rattling about like a ping pong ball trying to find them. This year a close family member had a total mental breakdown after 35 years in the classroom, and it’s really changed my perspective on the profession. It takes everything and gives so little back, and I can see myself going the same way he did. It seems that the only real way to climb the ladder in teaching is to take on more responsibilities and therefore commit to spending even more weekend/evening time trying to stay on top of it all!
@DreamingofBrie tutoring sounds great! It’s four weeks until Christmas but I’m signed off for two weeks anyway, which I’m devastated about. I love working with the children, it’s all the other mess that gets in the way.
Sorry to sound harsh but imo it is newer entrants to the profession who are 'normalising' such long working hours, at which most SLTs are rubbing their hands in glee.
I have been teaching 25 years and have never worked a 50 hour week, except for possibly in the week of a show or year 11 prom when I organised it.
But I know that won't make you change your mind!
Yeah, run while you can. Wish I had. 13 years in, I couldn't get any other job to match the salary so I'm trapped but I hate it for all the reasons you say.
Kids are amazing, everything else is a pile of shit. When will the govt start realising how serious the crisis is?
Life too short ... run for the hills!!!!!! Xxx I want to, just building up the courage x
I quit on my first year and have since never found as high paying job and life has been tricky at times financially. Breathe, consider your options realistically, then act. I quit in a panic and have regretted it- I may have continued, I may not - but because I didn't complete I will never know.
An NQT colleague I worked with once left suddenly just before the end of the Easter term because she had already failed the first term and was likely to fail the second. I think that would have meant her failing her NQT year and never being able to teach again. She was advised to leave so she could try to complete her NQT year somewhere else. I'm not sure if this is still the case but if you think you are likely to fail, you might decide to finish your current school and try elsewhere. You never know when your qualification will be useful and schools vary greatly.
If you know, you know. Life is too short. Leave now. I've been teaching for 15 years and I'm leaving in July. Those hours are very familiar to me. As someone else said, teaching has become about getting people to do as much work as possible whilst paying them as little as possible, and the only way to get ahead is to take on an even more unrealistic workload. Could you go back to your previous career or look into corporate training with your new teaching skills?
I left teaching a year ago and haven't looked back. Like you I was normalising silly hours, as is the nature in primary, but it wasn't enough.
After I had my children I realised it couldn't go on. I'm now working as a TA and it's great- I'm in school and working with the kids but at 3.45 I leave and don't think about work again.
I’ve name changed for this.
I am in my NQT having done a year training and a year as a full time unqualified. I have already been exhausted for two years, my mental health is wrecked. I am a re-trainer in my 30’s.
I feel like it is a career of false dawns, I keep being told “oh this is the worst bit, it will get easier from here” and it doesn’t. It is just relentless.
The workload is impossible even when you have learnt a load of time saving tricks and binned off all of the impossible tasks to the bottom of the priorities list.
I have had thoughts already about what I could go and do instead. I love teaching and I love working with teenagers! I just cannot keep up with the endless admin, CPD, paper trailing...
I’m going to try and get to the end of the year no matter what because then the options and choices are mine.
If you are able to get back into your former career I wouldn’t bother completing the course, but I would get a job first. You owe your course providers nothing and they need the wake-up call.
I'm in my 4th year of teaching- thought I'd found a lovely school then Ofsted visited We were basically told to stop being nice to the children and SLT told to stop being nice to the staff- my lovely school has now disappeared and the pressure is awful. I interviewed for another year at the school the day after Ofsted so didn't know how different it would be.
I'm (probably) staying until the end of the academic year but 3 full time members of staff have resigned this term in a single year group entry primary school.
I'm planning to go back to supply and hopefully some tutoring. All our leaving staff are leaving teaching altogether.
Get out now while you can if you know you don't want to teach
This genuinely is the worst time of the year - I'm usually on my knees by now. If you are absolutely convinced you really don't want to carry on teaching, then make the move back to marketing as quickly as you can. But if you have even the slightest glimmer that you'd like to give it one more shot, then try changing schools as others have suggested.
Until now I've always worked in single form (or smaller) entry schools, so I've done all the planning for my class all on my own. I'm now in a 4 form entry school so planning is shared between the team. Yes - I have to read through the planning and resources prepared by my colleagues but tweaking it to suit me takes far less time than planning from scratch. And SLT are actively trying to reduce workload so a comprehensive set of resources to support maths planning has been bought and requirements for written marking in maths have been dramatically cut back. Marking for writing is currently being revised, with the emphasis being on what makes the greatest impact but takes the least amount of time (the year 6 teachers are very excited that they can mark a full set of extended writing in 30 minutes they say, it's making a real difference to the children and they never take books home any more). There's a heavy emphasis on peer/self marking and marking during the lesson when working with children. After school meetings are kept to a minimum and every 4 weeks there's a no meetings week. So it really is possible to find schools which are doing their best to prevent work taking over your whole life.
Sounds like a standard teaching load, unfortunately. It's crap. If you can do anything else, do! Especially if you don't have children or a heavy financial responsibly yet.
@Piggywaspushed I’m Primary and all my
colleagues are working those hours - I taught secondary for a year unqualified before and I have to admit, I did find the workload was less intensive, however that may have been the school I was in and nothing to do with the Key Stage. I can’t judge your secondary role, but I find for me, it’s creating data tables (by hand - we aren’t allowed to use excel!!), marking EVERY piece of work before a child gets their book the next day, using seventeen (!) different types of sticker and three-highlighters to adhere to the marking scheme, deep marking three pieces of work per child per week, creating Venn diagrams, sticking photos of work in books, sticking sheets in and LOs in, creating displays, behaviour charts and all that crap that really takes the time. Planning is a pain (single form entry) but I quite enjoy it, because I know my class so well. None of those things are specific to NQTs and the senior members of staff in my school are also all on their knees, or have somehow wangled a full time TA to help them. As an NQT I have less TA time than all the older, senior staff in my school, despite having seven children with SEND and care plans. Gosh sorry, that was a rant!!
Everyone else, Thankyou so much, you’ve been extremely helpful. I can’t see my future ping ponging to schools in the hope they don’t try to kill me, so I think you’ve done an amazing job at picking me up and reassuring me that I’m not alone and not weak, merely trying to move mountains with a teaspoon!
Have you spoken to your PDL? Are they supportive?
Having done the same programme as you I would personally try to complete the year if you possibly can, and avail yourself of the career development opportunities aimed at those who intend to leave the profession after leaving the programme.
It's such a hard year, I bet you're on your knees.
If you can earn well in your old job that's fine, but if you can complete your NQT year you will always have that earning potential. I taught secondary for 12 years and now do various other, less intensive, teaching roles, including tutoring. My qualifications and experience help me get other roles, but I've also got the reassurance of knowing that I could (hopefully) always get work again if we were in financial difficulties.
Well, I am not sure everyone else has been helpful : they have all agreed that it will never get better! If your SLT feel the same, surely it is they who are the ones who could change it all?
I do know a bit about primary as well, and know that primary teachers, on average, work longer hours . Hopefully, the government will eventually take all this seriously...
In the meantime, I would honestly just not do the non essentials : what's the worst that could happen if you didn't do a display?
I do remember the halcyon days when schools employed people to specifically do admin support such as displays. that kind of workload help has been eroded with cuts and I'd be laughed at now if I asked someone to do a display for me.
I do feel your pain but I also think something has to give. As you get more experienced the marking will get quicker and you can develop short cuts.
But I guess if you really are suffering and really hate it, get out, before you get Stockholm Syndrome!
Have you been recommended any books about workload reduction strategies : there are some good ones out there?
Have you considered moving abroad, or do you definitely want to stay in UK? I'm working in a sort- of international school. Compared to the UK the workload is much lighter. The younger teachers are always of out together, holidaying together, rarely take work home, rarely stay long after school, and the kids are a dream. It's a great atmosphere. Quite a few stay put, but there's also a few who do a couple of years in one country, then move on, to Asia, or America or wherever. We had a new teacher come from England who still can't believe how might her workload is. Bad thing is, when she returns to UK next year, she doesn't think she'll be able to return to that mad environment.
If you like teaching, but not the mad workload it might be worth considering. In wish I knew about these possibilities when I was young and free...
Join the discussion
Please login first.