Ex-teachers UK
Thinking of Leaving Teaching - True Stories

What Else Can You Do? – What Others Who Left Teaching Did

Jo

“I left a UPS2 tlr2b job in April. I have (hopefully, pending clearance checks) secured a new job where I will be earning approx 500 a month less. We worked out that the unpaid hours I did as a teacher didn’t even cover the £500! 

I made sure before I made the decision to leave the profession that we were financially ok but ultimately my own mental and physical health was more important.

I worked out that I had so many transferable skills for the HEO (Higher Executive Officer) jobs and just applied via their website. It took a couple of goes to get the hang of it and I had 2 interviews which were very steep learning curves.”

Helen

“I left an assistant head post and set up a tutoring business so I could pick up my kids from school and still have the holidays. Depends on your financial situation. Am on a third of the wage I used to be on but so much happier.”

Kira

“I left teaching at Christmas – I was on UPS3. I took some months off, did a coding bootcamp and am now working as a Software Developer. I am so much happier. My kids are teenagers so I don’t need the childcare, but this is the first summer holiday that I haven’t been with them all the time. However, I could truly relax and enjoy the 2 weeks I had on holiday with them without worrying about exam results or how my timetable for September was horrid. I am now less stressed and tired overall which means at weekends and in the evening I can spend time with them and enjoy it rather than being grumpy. They will appreciate you being happier and less stressed. 
Outside of teaching there are so many jobs you can do where you can work flexitime, work from home etc. For example, my eldest got his A level results and I wanted to go with him, so I booked the morning off (just in case we needed to go through clearing) and worked from home in the afternoon.”

Karen

“I was a secondary teacher working with teenagers with social, emotional and behavioural needs. Whilst trying to teach main subjects, like maths and English, I realised that the pupils’ health and wellbeing was the upmost priority. How do we expect young people to learn when their emotional wellbeing is not being addressed first? I decided to leave teaching and set up my own business called Mind Marvels.
I now deliver emotional wellbeing sessions in both primary and secondary schools and nurseries, working with young people to give them ‘skills for life’. The sessions focus on emotions and calming strategies to self regulate their feelings. I always loved working with young people but find my work even more enjoyable now I am teaching skills for life. You can find out more information at
www.facebook.com/mindmarvels

Phillip

“I am happy to admit that teaching nearly broke me but I was also brave enough to break free. The hours & pay are unbelievable and the daily micro-management in an environment petrified of Ofsted was too much. I believe I was good at the job for a time, but I realised that I couldn’t continue to be one ongoing and I felt that I would ultimately let the students down (was an SEN teacher). I have moved into SEN social work and love it; parents appear to largely admire that you have a background in SEN and tend to be more open with you more quickly as they see you have an understanding; the new role is stressful too but I take home the same money as I did and my evenings and weekends are mine. I respect those that continue the fight and stay in the roles but for me it was too much in a challenging environment both as an employee and as a frontline member of staff.”

Aimee

“I’m doing a bit of work in primary schools directing plays for a literacy festival and trained to be an ante natal teacher! I miss the money of UPS2 but it doesn’t even compare to the time I now have with my kids, the lack of stress and evenings that I now have back!”

Rachel

“Once I had my little boy a lot of things fell into perspective. I didn’t have time even for myself before he came along so how on earth was I going to do it and spend the time I want to with him and that he deserves!!
I instantly felt a weight lifted from my shoulders when I left teaching. The stress and pressure gone away. It actually gave me the motivation to start my own business to I could create a flexible career that fits around family life but still doing what I love – teaching. www.littlelearnersuk.com/join-our-franchise

Sarah

“I left teaching at the end of the summer term after 23 years. I’ve been in my new non teaching job now for 6 weeks. It’s a whole new world and still one I’m pretty unfamiliar with but my life is no longer ruled by my job. I am sad to have got to this point after so long but enough was enough…

I was a primary school teacher, firstly in KS1 but the last 13 years have been in EYFS which I loved. After having my first child I went back part time, this was 8 years ago now. Even part time meant missing out on so much of my family life – hours and hours of evidence for Learning Journeys and assessments plus the usual planning and paperwork etc. I spent my ‘days off’ working as well as evenings and weekends and also went in to school on days I wasn’t actually teaching. I was earning really good money despite being 0.5 as I had been UPS3 for quite some years.

Now my job is 20 hours a week term time, reducing to 10 hours a week in holiday time. I get paid the Living Wage which is obviously a huge salary drop and I’m lucky that we could afford for me to do that. So far it’s all working out and I’m spending more time with my family. I’m basically an administrator doing anything that’s needed! So it’s basic office type things (phone calls, emails, letters etc) but also banking money, paying wages, managing client fees, booking out rooms in our building/generally managing the building (including maintenance type things). Still very much learning everything but have quickly got the basics mastered! Some very transferable skills from teaching there!

What I’m not doing is taking hours of work home every day and worrying about how I will ever get it all done :-)”

Nicholas

“My advice is not to think about it, just do it right now. Get the hell out and then start rebuilding your life. You will find yourself enjoying life once again and wondering why you wasted so much of your life putting up with all the stress and associated nonsense involved in the profession.

I wasted fifteen years teaching, I now earn more, I have more time for my family, more energy, far better mental health, my customers really appreciate the work that I do for them so there’s plenty of job satisfaction, I am my own boss so no line-manager hassle and if I don’t like someone I don’t work for them.

I would happily trade in my worthless Master‘s Degree in Education to get those fifteen years back. Don’t put yourself in that position.

(In response to the question, “What do you do now?” Nicholas responded:

I‘m a multi-skilled craftsman, I run my own construction business. This is pretty much the same as I was doing before I went into teaching construction at FE colleges and PRUs. Having said that whatever your background or previous experience all teachers should be able to diversify and adapt to other work/life situations. By the nature of the work you are all intelligent people who have enough self-awareness to know your own capabilities and to identify business opportunities. I know that the biggest hurdle may be self-belief, but you can do it and the rewards are high all round.”

Bonita

“I left teaching in July this year. I had adrenal fatigue and was at my lowest point. I’ve spend the last 18 months requalifying as a Business Coach and NLP for Business Practitioner. It took 2 years before that to find out what I wanted to do but I knew I had to do something different. Teachers have the most unbelievable skill set and I now fully understand how transferable our skills are. I feel better than I have done in years. I’m loving setting up and exploring my new skills. I’m building up my client base and networking. You really can leave teaching if you are determined enough. I’m going to start doing some supply work a few days a week and I’m looking forward to walking in, doing my job and walking out. This time next year I hope to have enough clients to give up supply completely. You can do it! Believe me, you can.”

Sue

“I felt like that after my NQT year 15 years ago, so did supply for a year and it suited me. Supply is where I found my niche as I did a lot of SEN supply. Became a permanent full time SEN teacher, teaching small groups and one to one in mainstream for 8 years and all the rest that comes with special needs teaching. A much more rewarding job. Now I’m an advisory specialist teacher for the LA and teaching Braille to VI students. Of course I’ve had to do some training along the way but couldn’t be happier.

Otherwise if I hadn’t have gone down that route I would have left the profession.”

Josh

“Ok so I left teaching in March 2016 for a variety of reasons which I won’t go through now because the article captures the feeling of persecution very well, as well as the liberal use of the word ‘support’, which I just found to mean ‘bully’. After my headteacher told me she wouldn’t want her child in my lesson I had what can only be described as a panic attack that night and sacked it in. But again, my story is nothing new.

For a little while I was playing poker full time, a surprisingly versatile game with transferable skills out the ears, many of which I developed while teaching. These are many but the main ones are: patience, dealing with difficult personalities and the need for a sound, logical approach to things.

Eventually this got wearing and wasn’t making me rich as I had initially hoped so I went back to my interest in education and in September 2016 I started an MEd in ‘Autism in Children’ at The University of Birmingham which I completed in August, with a merit. 🙂

Since then I’ve been working for a charity called Resources For Autism, we provide tailored support to young autistic people either in ‘clubs’ we run or on a 1-1 basis. It is exceedingly rewarding and while their behaviour can occasionally be challenging this is rare, and we are trained to deal with it in a myriad of different ways anyway. It will also be nothing new to anyone who was a teacher anyway.

I get to work and the service users are pleased to see me.
I get to work and their parents are pleased to see me.
My manager messages me to ask how it went and is pleased and appreciative when I confirm it was all fine.
I take no work home with me.
There is room for advancement.
I don’t start until like 10 in the morning at the earliest, leaving some room to pursue poker on a recreational basis.
I am decently paid.

A couple of the students who were in my year 11 form two years ago have asked me to come for a drink with them in a couple of weekends (they are 18 now) to celebrate one of their birthdays. They are a testament to the fact that I was not a failure really, only made to persistently feel like one. Getting out of teaching was extraordinarily liberating and I promise it can be done successfully. Although I now occasionally suffer from anxiety and still have disturbed dreams about it, for the most part, I am just happy that I got in and out as quickly as possible.”

Anna

“I was a secondary teacher for six years before I decided on a career change. My reasons for this were twofold. I am from Belfast and after teaching in Manchester for six years I wanted to move home as I missed my family, my friends and my home town. Northern Ireland is an extremely difficult place for a teacher to find a permanent job at the moment, the thought of coming home and doing supply work for years did not appeal to me. I wanted the security of having a permanent job as soon as possible to enable me to have some financial security and stability. I found the job incredibly stressful also. I always thought, “Maybe it’s not the job, maybe it’s the school?” and was convinced that if I found a great school I would enjoy the job more.

I did find a great school though and my latter three years teaching were spent teaching there. I enjoyed my time there very much but still had a niggling feeling that the job was maybe just not for me. I did know that I wanted to continue to work in education. I had heard of but had not had any direct contact with education welfare officers and decided to research more about the role. EWO’s work closely with families, helping to support young people to re-engage with education. This seemed like such an important and worthwhile role. As someone who enjoyed high school and valued education it made me feel disappointed to think that there are so many young people who are unable to engage in education for a myriad of sometimes very complex reasons. Education Welfare Officers are social work trained to enable them to build up the knowledge and skill base to work with families who may be experiencing a lot of difficulties that can leave young people unable to maintain good attendance at school.

After returning to university to study for an accelerated two year social work degree I got a job as an EWO and thoroughly enjoy it. I feel having both a teaching qualification and a social work qualification makes it easy for me to empathise with and build relationships with both school staff and young people and their families. It’s a very worthwhile and rewarding role and I would encourage any teacher who is thinking about doing something else in education to consider it.”

Zan

“I left teaching at Christmas after 23 years and a term. I have gained the first two of the three qualifications to be a driving instructor and my own driving school goes live at the beginning of next month. (You can instruct for six months while gaining the third qualification – the experience helps.). It took investment: the cost of training, studying whilst still working full time last term, a period with no income and now setting up the business. And I am sooooo much happier!! I never hankered after running my own business but I simply couldn’t carry on giving every minute and every ounce of energy to teaching, and still feeling I should give more. I have a life. I sleep well. I socialise. I create food, poetry and cards. I feel fulfilled as a person again. Good luck: find a path and do it!”

(In response to Zan’s post) “As Zan’s spouse, I’d just like to add I’ve got my wife back as opposed to the hollow shell she had become 😀”

Mary

(In response to Zan’s post) “Wow! I also left teaching at Christmas after 23 years. As you say – I couldn’t keep giving what I was trying to give to teaching. I was so demoralised with it no longer being about the children and far too much stress because of unrealistic targets.

I have also now started training to be a driving instructor! I’ve had to pay for the training and up to this week had no income. However, I now have a part time job while I continue training. I also feel I have my life back. I no longer wake up with that feeling of dread every morning. I have time for myself.

Giving up teaching was the scariest thing I have ever done but I have never doubted it was the right decision.

You sound like you have done amazingly well so far and I wish you the very best of luck with your business. It was reaffirming to read your story. 😊”

Tara

“I left 4 years ago after teaching for 14 years. I looked at council job websites. I now work for Public Health. Absolutely love my job. The transferable skills allowed me to get the job and I have had lots of on the job training. I really love it. It took about 6 months to get used to the fact I had my evenings and weekends back.”

Anonymous

“After 29 years, I quit in December 2015. I had loved my job, which over the years had been mainly ks2 based, but was also ks1, a PRU for ks4, part time advisory for two boroughs and 4 years teaching teachers through NoF/ APU.

I was in the fortunate position of not having to maintain my salary, as my children had left home and we have no mortgage. Plus, I was just within the TPS limits so could get my pension based on my final salary once I get to 2024. At the time though, none of that mattered. I was crying, having panic attacks and feeling awful… My work was often held up as a good example in my school, but couldn’t sustain the marking, meetings, displays and record keeping and felt unsupported by management… not so much my ht, but others who did not lead by example.

I had two interviews, one for Gatwick in security, which I was offered and would have been customer facing (my son was doing it at the time and liked it, but I’m not sure I could have done the shift work) basic salary £19000 plus shift allowances which made it up to about £26000 … and lots of days off!

My second interview was more of a chat, with a local company who sell AV. As ICT coordinator I’d kept in touch with them from my NoF days and they took me on to do order processing, coordinating deliveries and engineers for installs. I now write their bids for larger contracts. They are lovely people, and I really appreciate the lifeline they gave me when I was so down.

It’s 9-5, sometimes I do more but I generally get my weekends and evenings. The salary is approx. half but I pay less tax and do 5 hours tuition a week… I’m not spending money on classroom resources either, which saves a bit.

I often wake up dreaming I’m back in the classroom. I look at the ads, I speak to friends and colleagues in teaching who tell me it has got worse, but then offer me jobs. I miss it.

I intend to retire from my current job in three years, when my husband retires, but I’d like to go back and do some supply work then. Maybe just to prove to myself I did the right thing by leaving…. or maybe to give me a chance to prove I had the best job in the world for nearly 30 years. I miss the creativity, the buzz and the “wow” moments that I spent time planning for, or better still, just happened.

My family won’t ever let me do it again full time… I really didn’t comprehend the impact it had on them. Like many teachers, I was probably my own worst enemy. The more I did, the more I was expected to do.

There are jobs out there for teachers without retraining, but they are, in my opinion, jobs, not vocations.”

Victoria

“I’m leaving teaching after 22 years to work in the CSS, one-to-one with students who need reintegrating back into school. I’ve had enough of the disrespect from government and public, enough of the marking workload, enough of the pressure for results (the predictions for which coming from machines, treating students as little pieces of data and not people anymore) and every years new ‘fad’ and new strategy: HIT lessons, stretch and challenge, differentiating for 3 or 4 different types of learner per lesson. I loved teaching and I knew I never wanted to be anything else since I was 14. But teaching isn’t the respected profession it once was and I feel we are being blamed for all of societies ills. Enough.”

Anonymous

“I have just started working in the private sector…..pressure is different, but paperwork is significantly reduced and the support is amazing.
Stress = gone”

Ami

“I have been a primary school teacher for the last 16 years. I’m currently working part-time in Year 4. I have felt increasingly trapped in the profession which has really affected my mental well-being and I have fallen out of love with teaching. I can’t do it until I’m 68 but, until recently, I couldn’t see a way of being able to leave without taking a huge pay cut and working hours that didn’t fit around my children.

So, last October I took the opportunity to become an online health and wellness coach. I wasn’t sure if I could do it but I needed to get something. I partner with an amazing company who launched their coaching opportunity in the UK last October and I support people to get fitter, healthier and happier.

It isn’t a get rich quick scheme and does take some effort (nothing like teaching – I basically post on social media) but I can see that if my business continues to grow the way that it is I could leave teaching within the next 3-5 years. It has massive potential in this country and it has given me hope that there is a way out of teaching.

I absolutely love it and because it has given me something else to focus on teaching hasn’t become the be all and end all anymore.

Do you have to have a fitness background? No

Do you have to be physically fit yourself? No – people will be inspired by your journey.

Do you need to know a lot about business building and social media? No – I didn’t but the training you receive is incredible.

I am so pleased the lady who told me about it did so because it has honestly changed my life in the last year. My mental and physical health has improved and I am building a brighter future for me and my family.

If you’d like any more details please get in touch.”

Ami also gave me the following link: https://mailchi.mp/105be21f8149/teamamicoachingopportunity

Miffy

“Hi,
I taught for 27 years.
During that time I took NPQH, ran a nursery school, was on SLT at three schools and was also an advisor.
I worked so very hard, seven days a week fitting my life around my job. It became all consuming. My social life went as did my hobbies , allotment and time to spend with my family.
It got to a point where working like a slave to the job wasn’t enough. I physically and mentally could give no more.
I was losing weight, sleep, confidence and my ability to function as a human being due to stress and pressures of a role i used to love.
Constant moderation, planning, assessments and endless paper work and data!
So I woke up one day and said no more, within three days of making this decision i had found a new job.
It was a lot less money, but it was zero stress and was something i excelled at .
It gave me back my self esteem and confidence and proved to me that I could do anything I set my mind to.
Whilst doing this role I thought about what my ideal job would be where I could do something I loved.
Id always wanted to run a vintage shop.
Well a year and a half since leaving teaching that is what I now do ! I have a job as a manager running a vintage shop for a charity.
I run the shop how I wish, make things to sell and get to meet lots of lovely people whilst also making money for the charity.
Money is very tight. We have had to make a lot of changes to how we live.
However, I am now happier, healthier and have time to relax and be with my family.
I gave 27 years of my life to teaching and in that time the profession has changed beyond recognition.
My advise is, if it is making you miserable, having a negative impact on your wellbeing and that of those you love then make the change.
If I can do it after 27 years anyone can.
There is a whole big world out there where it’s ok to have evenings and weekends work free.
Be happy and take care xx”

Matthew

“I left teaching about 17 years ago and after about four to five years my salary was up to the same level as I earned as a teacher. I have worked in various IT and finance roles, always employed and never self-employed. Definitely possible – but you have to retrain and avoid teaching-type jobs in my experience.

I got a break by temping. I took a fairly low paid role in something I had no experience in. No risk to the company because when temping, they could just tell me not to turn up tomorrow. I ended up staying at the first company (where I started as a temp) for three and a half years. Ironically I am now still in education (working for a University but not involved in any way in teaching) but that first role was in IT/finance at a large bank.”

When asked what kind of retraining he did, Matthew replied,

“Initially, my employer paid for me to take evening classes in vocational courses related to my role. I was producing Management Information so I studied Oracle SQL and other fairly esoteric training. However I have always worked for large organisations since leaving teaching (i.e. with thousands of staff) and taken advantage of any staff development available, including PRINCE2 (project management), accountancy,/bookkeeping and a variety of management and leadership training. Top tip – get a job in a big organisation (however junior) as this will give you access to the company’s staff development programme and the ability to apply for internal jobs.”

Thomas

“If you want similar security then you need to look at the public sector.
I went back to my old career in pharma. I am much better paid than I was as a teacher. The pension is not the same and I do not get 13 weeks holiday a year.. then again, I am not overworked stressed and kanackered. A former colleague went from head of dept to HR exec in a supermarket.”

Stuart

“I earn more running my own company of writing and web design- getprocopy.com

Rachel

“I’ve recently left teaching and had to take quite a drop from M6. I’m tutoring apprentices for a training company – but absolutely not expected to take work home, so I definitely have more of a work life balance.”