End of the road

Well I think I am at the point where I am am coming to the end of the road of my eduction career. 18 years as a primary teacher, two years in post as a substantive head. Bringing the school through a tough time when the previous headteacher was suspended due to misconduct, changing the staffing profile extensively, giving the children so much in the way of experiences and memories whilst juggling the political changes. After a second RI and a very politically driven LA meeting Friday where it looked like they were setting the foundations for their case to oust me out, I am now reviewing my whole position.

I came into the job to make a difference like so many teachers. What makes me proud, is the number of ex pupils that, now grown up, have made the effort to seek me out and let me know how I helped shape their lives and influence their choices, thanking me for my contribution. The joy that brings and that can never be taken away from me.
I am proud I have stuck to my beliefs, my morals, not ‘bending’ the rules of the sats, not narrowing our broard and balanced curriculum – so many schools remove the arts to concentrate on the sats – savage for the young people. I have not bombarded the children with a diet of just maths and English – maybe that is where I have gone wrong but enabled children to shine in other area too. Children are more than just test minions. They deserve a lot more. This however is not the viewpoint of our government – just listen to our education secretary speak about young people needing just to focus on sciences and maths to be successful despite research clearly showing the opposite. Ofsted are only interested in data and that is in maths and English only – despite what we may be told.
After the recent death of one of my colleagues who was only 48 years old, I need to put life back into perspective. Being only 44 myself, I have many years ahead of me hopefully and don’t want the stress and pressure of this situation to be the thing that prevents me seeing my own children going to university and becoming self sufficient.
But where do I start? I have dedicated every hour of every day to school, working amazingly long hours both in term time and out. Education has been my life, my focus, my driver.
I refuse to end my career with LA making up a case against me, using me as a scape goat to prevent difficult questions about why their ‘support ‘ has not moved the school to good, trying to persuade governors that it would be a strategic move to move me out, trying to tell my senior leadership team how brilliant they are – which they are by the way – to emphasise more to the governors that they should act against me. There are no grounds, my governors don’t feel there are but I know the power and the threats of LA ‘if you don’t act swiftly governors then we will serve you a notice which will replace you and we will do it ourselves’ what are the governors to do?
So, what next? Where to turn? I don’t think I am deluded, I do think I have been doing a good job – maybe I am wrong and I have got myself totally wrong and the LA are right. Whatever it is I think I need to begin to find a new life, a new focus. Wave goodbye to education. Seek advice on how and where to look for a job to help pay my mortgage. A sad day.
The end of the road.


About headteacher2014

I am a headteacher of a primary school in England

Posted on November 23, 2014, in Education, education leadership, School leadership and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Sorry to read this … But you do need to do what is right for you.

  2. Oh gosh, I can so empathise with your struggle with the politicisation of education.

    You have to do what you need to do for you. Remember the safety instructions on an aircraft. Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. Please, seek support, allow yourself time to regroup and get things into perspective before you make any hard and fast decisions.

    Whatever you do, always remember, you can make a difference in more ways than being a headteacher, maybe it’s time to look at ways your experience can support young people without destroying you.

    From somebody who faced similar decisions.

  3. Try reading “black hole focus” loads of good stuff out there. Doing the same myself and feel so happy about it.

  4. Firstly:Do NOT resign.
    If you have done nothing wrong, you cannot be dismissed.

    Secondly: Talk to your Chair Of Governors.
    Tell them of your fears and say, if they want you to go, you will negotiate a package.

    Thirdly:In the meantime, carry on.

    I speak as someone who has gone through exactly the same and am no longer in a school BUT I did get a nice payoff (tax free). If I had resogned I would have been left with nothing. The union told me this is what is happening all over the country. If you have to end your career, make sure you so it with a tax-free cushion to help you.

  5. I am a faculty leader and something similar is happening to me, I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. Just remember get out and live a great life outside of education.

  6. Tough situation. And who am I to offer advice? But……what if you stick with it and fight, but in the knowledge that you might lose? If the case against you is weak; and it probably is if you’ve only been in post for 2 years…it might not be possible for the LA to bring about a credible case against you. What does your Union say? And you still have the backing of the Governing body. Stuff the LA…..

    I think there are big changes for the better coming down the track, and a new Government after next May…..

    But, easy for me to say. I’m just saddened that someone like yourself who has given committed service to the country’s kids should be forced out of the profession by nonsense.

  7. Happened to me – hard to put details as there was an agreement but I ended up not working for a few months after headship for more than a decade. I recuperated, thought, reflected and rested. And kept in touch with colleagues who have had same experience ( there are quite a few, believe me)
    I started a new job in Sept, NOT as a Head. And am working in a classroom again. (SEN) Bottom line is I love it, feel so much better and am still making a difference to children. Now I think it was the best thing that could have happened and do not regret it. Am a decade older than you but still have a career and a future. talk to your Union. And stay positive.

  8. I know where you are coming from. 28 years boy then man! I still miss a colleague who I chatted with at the school gate for nearly ten years and who died far too early. Now semi retired and training to be an L6 Careers Advisor to work with pupils I enjoy working with. The first year was tough but I like the lack of stress and getting to know my children and grandchildren. The income is not the same but we are down sizing. I don’t wake up at 4 am anymore nor worry about inspections. I swim most days.

    It will be worth it in the end. Give yourself time.

  9. You could have written this about my situation right now. I’m struck by the similarities. RI, local politics, lies to scapegoat me as HT. LA very good at persuading governors to take their side through threats. Governors are local to the school and have a lot of face to lose in local communities so are persuaded. I’m too ill with it to work, but can’t see a return to work to a place so unsupportive that ruins my health. You’re not alone. Good luck!

  10. What has gone so wrong with education that experienced and dedicated teachers and SLT are used as scapegoats because impossible targets are being set. I recently read that reasonable progress for 4 yr olds was no longer deemed adequate, accelerated progress was the requirement, this system is putting teachers and schools in desperate situations. I have been a teacher for 24 yrs and have given up being SLT and any aspirations of being a Head or Deputy. The strain on teachers is unbearable and the lack of trust or respect for experience is soul destroying. I would never recommend teaching as a profession now, I wouldn’t inflict this life on anyone.

  11. I left for the very same reasons, I don’t regret it because I got my life back. I know what I did was for the best for the children in my care, giving them more than a centrally imposed diet of maths and English; yes, SATs are important for the future, but so are personal qualities and life experiences. Good luck in the future, whatever decision you take is the right one.

  12. I whole heartedly agree with the life of a head teacher! I would never allow anyone to ask me to leave a position. I would quit first! When I retired, I never looked back. Not really! I had two weeks of crying the next fall, however I soon found a nitch in my personal life that I had been ignoring for a long time for the sake of other’s kids from other families! Not my own! I couldn’t redo being a mother that I truly wasn’t to my own children. They didn’t complain too much…but one thing they always resented was I wasn’t there for them after school, during the evenings, on weekends and everyday after the 4th of July because I was working in my classroom. The politicians have overrun our schools too. They are making unreasonable requests of students and teachers that will never come true! Because business people have told the politicians that they don’t want to train people on their own dime anymore, they want the schools to do it! Impossible!! I ask 12th graders that I had in first grade what they want to do after college. Thank God none of them say be a teacher! We blatantly tell young men and women not to become teachers! It’s a thankless, never ending, constantly changing, non-profit making 24/7/12 month a year job. If a person told me they wanted to be a teacher, I wish them well and hope they are the ones that will be able to change the madness. constant curriculum changes, low paying (our school district voted to give back three pay raises to save our school district, and we were never given another raise), politicians and greedy business men! I feel so bad you find yourself in this position! Being a head teacher isn’t the only way to help students. If you leave, research and find a good way to get to the politicians and help them understand what they are doing wrong and how they can really help our educational system. We had a retired businessman come to our school system to substitute teach. Anyone can substitute our students if they have had two years of college (in any subject). I talked to the man and asked him why he chose to substitute teach? He said he thought it would be really easy! If he could run a company, he could teach these kids for a day! He subbed for a day in our building and we went to our principal and asked him not to come back. Anybody and everybody think they can teach children! NOT!! It takes a special person(s). However, when the system fights us and are constantly changing band wagons, know one can keep up!! I don’t know about your country, however, when we jumped programs it was because the money ran out for one program and we had to change to another one because we got money to teach that one. It didn’t matter if it was a good change for the students…it was all about the money!! You have my deepest feelings! I hope you the best in your future, if it’s in education or something else. In All Sincerity, Kathy, USA!

  13. The middle east are always looking for teachers and Head’s far better place to be teaching and you have a right mix of people that you work with

  14. Hi,
    I had been teaching 12 yrs – 8 as a teacher, 4 as a teaching deputy. Then I got a headship. Did it for 1yr and 1 term and realised it wasn’t for me – made me ill, always thinking, “What next?”. No-one really knows what goes on. I remember being told to make redundancies but when I argued the case, suddenly the LA found the money!!! I packed it in, started a landscaping business, did supply etc anything to keep a roof over my family. I am now a full time y6 teacher and have a little management – on the SMT as the y5/6 leader of a large primary. When I quit my headship, the LA didn’t recognise any of my leadership PM’s, so started back on the TPS that I’d reached before going onto the leadership payscale as a deputy. I am now on ups3 and a TLR – only £5k less than what I was on as a head!!! and nowhere near the amount of work/ stress. Now been in education for 18yrs and loving it again, doing what I trained to do – teach!

  15. We have to get people to realise what LAs are doing to school leaders.

  16. My only comment would be to consider retaining a career in education, but teaching instead of managing. It seems that the powers that be have mistreated you as a Head. No doubt about that. But given your clear dedication, commitment, success and passion as a teacher, why not return to something you clearly enjoyed and were very good at? Good luck whatever you do, and it would be very sad if the teaching profession lost your undoubted talents.

  17. Sounds like a tough decision to make, but it also sounds like a good one. It’s right to find a way out before it makes you I’ll. wish I’d had the courage to do that 10 years ago. Best of luck and I think you’ll find you’ve acquired the skills in your career to do practically anything. Not many people leave a job with the kind of legacy you describe… A career well spent.

  18. Have only just come across this post – thanks to @teachertoolkit. Just wanted to give you my best wishes. I was a head for 10 years and, although I didn’t share your experience, I’m sure that was only good fortune rather than good management. As I read this, I thought, ‘There but for the grace of God go any of us in educational leadership.’

    The only thing I would say is that you sound to be passionate about and committed to teaching children. It may be possible for you to stay in education but move away from your current toxic situation (and the toxicity is nothing to do with your pupils and staff) and rediscover what brought you into teaching and kept you there for 18 years.

    I know of several heads who have left their jobs under various difficult circumstances (in both state and independent schools), a number of whom were excellent leaders, but found themselves in untenable positions. They HAVE gone on to carve out a career in education, and some even in educational leadership, after a change of context, not a complete change of profession. It can happen.

    But whatever you decide, I hope it works out well for you. Teaching and headship feels like a vocation rather than just a job – what you are, not just what you do. But, actually, it IS a job and not your whole life. There’s a person there when you take the teacher/head bit away. I hope that that person thrives. Good luck.

  19. A horribly familiar story as a Head of a twice RI school. Here is my blog on it http://lordlit.com/2014/12/29/nurture1415/
    You will have my email address through this comment; please contact me if you want to share experiences or ideas for keeping collective heads above water.

    • Feel your pain, making the same decision myself. There are some great books out there that can guide you through positive thinking and new aspirations. Take the time to read more but you have survived for 44 years and have the skills to earn a good wage, you can easily do that again.

  20. Such a powerful blog. I think there must be a case for more supportive online groups-as the other Head has said in the comments. I did very similar to you over DHship, but I was only 32 and wanted to concentrate on my new baby so it was easy. Was always ready to go back, then got into supply, then admin then academia! Bottom line is to do what is best for you and your family. Good luck!

  1. Pingback: Education Panorama (January ’15) by @TeacherToolkit | @TeacherToolkit

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