Many teachers ask, “What else can you do?” Some ex-teachers have shared with me on my Thinking of Leaving Teaching Facebook page what they do now. I have separated these into three areas:
- Teachers who set up their own businesses
- Jobs related to Schools/Education
- Jobs outside of Schools/Education.
Teachers who set up their own businesses
(there may be job opportunities)
Jobs related to Schools/Education
Jobs outside of Schools/Education
My first role upon leaving teaching was a project coordinator position with a small education charity. I was lucky in that, as they needed someone to look after programmes and relationships with schools, I didn’t need any specific project management qualification – to be frank, at entry level and with the right supervision and guidance, a lot of project management skills can be picked up pretty easily. 99% of it is very much common sense (this applies to most project management methodologies, such as PRINCE2 and APM qualifications) – you will just have to learn some terminology that is relevant to the organisation in which you work (business-related concepts, critical paths, floats, terms around risk management, leadership – so all pretty straightforward!).After a couple of years with this organisation, I discussed getting a project management qualification and agreed to pay for 50% of the costs of getting my APM PMQ certification, with my employer paying the other half. I skipped the fundamentals stage in order to get a higher level of qualification more quickly, which was slightly more expensive and needed more study time, but it was definitely the right option as I got more job opportunities as a result of this. In terms of which course or accreditor to go for, this is a really illuminating video:
My general guidance on this:
1) Short answer is that these qualifications are expensive and the right organisation will support you financially (many employers outside of teaching understand the value of financially investing in your development)…but a fundamentals qualification would really show your commitment.
2) Get up to speed with the terminology and concepts ahead of any formalised learning and use these in job applications.
3) Look into free online providers for introductory courses – I believe companies like Future Learn, Skillshare and some of the others that have free courses where you maybe have to pay for certification would be a good starting point even just to get your head around some knowledge.
4) I left teaching five years ago when numbers leading the profession were high but competition wasn’t as high as they are now.
5) Project management is pretty straightforward and a lot of the organisation skills you have as a teacher are incredibly transferrable – you make 5 -7 year plans all the time, you understand risks and mitigating factors, you understand time and resource allocations – but be open minded enough to be able to learn a new ‘language’ to start applying these.
I hope that helps!
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Harry Stachini got in touch with me. He’s a teacher and professional stand up comedian who was due to leave the teaching world in 2020 and go on to be a full-time comedian and writer.
The pandemic got in the way of that so he decided to start a podcast called ‘The Staff Room’, where each week he shares “anonymous stories from teachers who are overworked, underpaid and close to a mental breakdown”.
It’s a show where he and a guest dissect anonymous (and truthful!) stories from teachers. Since the release of the first three episodes, the podcast has been met with amazing support and an ever-growing weekly following.
As of March 2021, the guests featured have included comedians Josh Jones, who recently appeared on 8 Out of 10 Cats, Jack Carroll, as seen on Live at The Apollo and multi-award-winning Jack Gleadow. Future guests on the line up are Brennan Reece, Chris Washington and Lauren Pattison.
If you fancy listening to an episode, you can find it here – https://anchor.fm/staffroompod
Job in Civil Service
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Someone posted this comment in the Thinking of Leaving Teaching? group. I have added links to help.
“I had a Civil Service interview yesterday which went really well.
“I’ve been working as a supply teacher for almost seven years now (since I had my little boy) and to be honest, I love it. I have my regular schools who love me too. I just wish that there was some security and better pay. I’m too scared to go back to being a contract teacher, as I don’t want to sacrifice family time and I know it would be too stressful for me now. I need to move on. As a family, we don’t own our own house, we need a new car and we just have things that we would love to do and places we’d love to go. So I’m hoping for a new start. I will really miss the children and teaching, but I’m ready for a change now. Wish me luck!“
The following week she posted:
“Thank you so much for your good luck messages. They paid off – I got the job! xxx”
When asked what she did to find the job and prepare for the interview, she replied:
“I subscribed to daily job alerts on the Civil Service website. I set my preferences only by city and salary. I looked at all departments and all jobs that I was interested in. At an open event for HMRC I talked to lots of different Civil Service professionals. They were all very encouraging because of the diverse range of skills I have as a teacher. This gave me a real confidence boost (and at the time my confidence was at an all time low).
My advice, if applying to the Civil Service is – take a lot of time on your application. Follow the guidelines given – they are very clear. Study the Civil Service Behaviours and Strengths. Write down lots of personal examples to evidence your skills. Use the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) – this is also very important at interview. If there are tests, take your time. Do them without any distractions and do the practice tests first. If you get to interview: take a lot of time to prepare and practise.
As teachers, we have so many transferable skills. It took me a while to find the confidence to realise the skills I have, but if I can do it, you can too.“
Anne-Marie – Set up diddi dance for pre-schoolers
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“Diddi dance began as a single class in 2003 in London. As interest grew in 2006, Anne-Marie Martin, the founder, looked into franchising the concept, so she furthered the format of her classes, which guaranteed new dance styles. These were launched every half term, over a two-year programme, aimed at keeping lessons fresh and fun but not losing the security of enough repetition to help the children grow in confidence.
After producing a few diddi dance pilots between 2006 and 2009, franchising was officially launched 11 years ago. Since then, diddi dance has grown and currently have over 40 franchisees covering over 50 territories of the UK. Franchisees are in business for themselves but not by themselves. It gives them the flexibility to work around family life, provide valuable support to their local community and create a rewarding business. They also have the valued support of Martin’s experience and her support team to help guide them through, especially in this challenging year, more than ever.
If you’re passionate about giving children a great first introduction to being physically active then this is the all-singing, all-dancing franchise opportunity for you.“
Set up SEN Business
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“When I was completing my PGCE, it was the most stressful thing ever & I quickly realised that I wanted to focus on working one to one & with SEN. I always felt like the odd one out that I wasn’t throwing myself into finding a teaching position. I spent over a year in a secondary school working as part of their SEND team (I’m primary) learning as much as possible & carrying out interventions & teaching small groups. I set up on my own at the end of last year teaching & tutoring children with SEN, anxiety, home educated etc. I also go into a local primary & do one to one interventions with vulnerable children. I am still teaching but it’s on my own terms 😊“
Jenna – Set up Adventure Group
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“Hi everyone, I wanted to share a bit of my plan for leaving teaching or maybe becoming part-time.
This year I was diagnosed with complex PTSD and OCD along with long on going diagnosis of depression and anxiety. 2019 I had left my tile of head of department and assistant head (both running parallel across two schools) which had sadly very much contributed to my CPTSD). Although I had done both roles very well the results don’t lie, I didn’t fit with the new academy chain that had taken over (neither did any members of slt in the end – we weren’t a failing school but our head wanted to take the dive and join a trust as we were a small school and he thought that was the future) In the end I did actually whistle blow on some of their practices as it was truly horrendous. I had, had a stint of being supply (I was never out of work a single day) and then offered a post at my current school. The thing is I love being in the classroom and I thought going back to just teaching without added responsibility would be a way forward.
But for me it’s now tarnished. During that time from 2019 I also got divorced and set up and adventure group for people like me who wanted adventures but had mental health illnesses and felt alone with no one to do them with.
This is now hopefully going to be my new career. I’ve lots of work to do on it but it’s been successful in terms of I’ve taken people and completed the National 3 Peaks, organised weekends away etc and used my teaching skills to organise group activities. I’ve still a long way to go to get my dream but for the first time I know what I want to do. How I can leave teaching and still feel fulfilled.
Maybe I’ll stay part-time who knows but right now I’m filled with hope. The photo is one from Monday when I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks with a friend in prep for my group doing it next year.
So here’s to RED Adventures going from strength to strength x”
Fi – Set up Photography Business
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“So, I did it.
I left teaching during lockdown and took my photography business full time!
It’s been really busy so far! Headshots, family shots, confidence sessions and businesses restarting their websites.
Sanny – BBC Journalist
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“Hi everyone, I have a bit of a mad story that has led to me leaving teaching this summer, after 9 years of teaching science and joining the BBC as a journalist, going back to university and being comissioned by BBC Sounds to make a podcast series!
Last year, I took part in the BBC local radio “New Voices” competition. I had a minute to talk about a story to capture people’s imaginations. I spoke about my beloved Bury FC. Eventually, I got through to the final 6. I didn’t win but I my interview I pitched a podcast about what happened and the fans making a new football team.
They loved the idea and BBC Sounds comissioned it! Through making it over the last 12 months, I realised this was my chance to take a leap. I applied and was successful for getting a place for an MA in Broadcast Journalism at Salford Uni and then somehow was successful applying and getting through an interview for the Journalism Diversity Fund to pay for the fees!
I have a 19 month old son, my wife has also just left teaching and we are currently looking at no income coming in but if we can keep going and keep the faith, I’m sure something will come of it.
As for the podcast series, Out Of Our League comes out on Wednesday on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts. Here’s the trailer and I’ll hope you’ll join me on my 10-part series mad journey!”
Working in a Museum
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“… mainly I just wanted to add that if you aren’t happy then life is too short. I wish I had got out 4 years ago but I stuck it out because I needed the money and because I was scared of the unknown. But boy do I feel great having left! Just do whatever makes you happy…”
When asked what they did, they replied,
“So first I worked out exactly how much money I really needed to survive. By that I mean literally the bare basics – no unnecessary direct debits, no meals out, no holidays etc…
Then I worked to pay off any remaining debt so that nothing would be lingering financially that was urgent to pay.
As soon as I knew I would definitely leave I saved every penny possible on payday, then at the end of the month if there was anything left I put that away too no matter how small. That meant that by the time I left, I had money to cover me until I found something which really took the pressure off. I always used to feel that I had no money left to save but once I set myself that goal it was really easy to work towards and it added up quickly with us actually saving a lot more than I had aimed for.
Then I just looked for things that I fancied even when the money was pants or the contract wasn’t great.
I used my summer hols to start working in a museum which I LOVE despite pants pay. Then I picked up a few extra little jobs to supplement it all. All of the little jobs don’t pay much and we can’t afford many luxuries but honestly I’ve never been happier. Also, at some point I might get something more substantial and then we can have luxuries so it doesn’t need to be frugal living forever.
I think the main thing that sucks teachers in is the holidays and the constant pay- once you quit you don’t really need all those holidays because you aren’t stressed and down all the time and a lot of the stuff I spent money on was to make myself feel better and I don’t really need to spend that anymore because I don’t need to feel better if that makes sense??”
Anonymous – Probation Officer
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“I’m officially leaving!!! I got a place on the PQiP* course to train to be a probation officer!! So happy! Thank you for your support. This is my 9th year teaching and I’m just done. I cant turn up to work any more and face the imbeciles that call themselves SLT swan around and do nothing while the school crumbles around them.
I did apply for the police and am still in the application process but it was taking too long. I saw this and thought it was better.
After the course you are qualified and can apply for probation officer roles which start at £29000 which is decent wack. And you’re paid whilst being on the course obviously.”
(*The PQiP is the professional qualification in probation and is specifically for the probation service)
Rachael – Edits and Proof-reads Resources
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“I left this April after 10 years and so far, it’s the best decision I’ve made in years! Got a new job that I’m really enjoying and no evening or weekend work 😊
I work from home for a company that gives instant access to inspirational lesson plans, schemes of work, assessment, interactive activities, resource packs, PowerPoints and teaching ideas. I edit and proof-read resources before they go on-site.
I applied through their website. They are recruiting qualified teachers regularly. The pay isn’t as good as a full-time teacher wage, but as I was working three days after returning from Mat leave, I didn’t notice much of a change in take-home pay. Although I swapped back to working full-time I actually work fewer hours now.“
Pamela – Product Manager for Exam Board
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“I started googling jobs in education out of teaching and came across some in larger cities. As I live an hour away from London decided to go for it. Lots of transferable skills, but I’ve also learnt so much in a year – lots of development which is great. I’m now a product manager for an exam board – lots of ex teachers work in the company. Work life balance is now the best I’ve ever had. Main skills that are transferable are: Project Management (do that all the time in teaching) Thinking on your feet, organised, creative, team player, emotional intelligence, IT literate, working under pressure!! The list goes on – Sooooo much experience drawn from teaching.“
Alan – Teaching English Online and Utility Warehouse
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“Like so many other teachers, I was tired of the profession and the constant red tape and moving goalposts, and of course; workload. But what else could I do? I needed to pay the bills and no other vacancy I searched generated any interest or required salary to meet my family’s needs. The twelve weeks holidays meant little to me anymore, other than wasting my life away looking forward to them so I could rest and ultimately recover for another 6-8 weeks of intervention, data, marking in green pen, no yellow, wait no purple, oh I give up. In my 15 years in education, I’d seen people move up through the ranks, and most of them not because of their classroom ability; if you know what I mean.
I had been teaching Business as my second subject for 3 years when my fantastic Head of Department left and departed for pastures new. I was genuinely upset for myself at this as she was (and no doubt still is) amazing and I genuinely wish her and her family well in their new life. Into her shoes stepped Mrs X. An inexperienced classroom practitioner from the private sector who had been in the school for only 2 years (2 years steeped in constant mistakes, which is fine if you learn from them. She didn’t). It was at this point I made my decision. I have one academic year to get out (Nov 2019). But what else could I do? I knew of this Facebook page ‘thinking of leaving teaching?”, so I read, and read and read until I concluded that for the wellbeing of me and my family, my earnings need to come from more than one source. Good. Progress being made. Now, where was this income going to come from?
I began a TEFL course as advised from a member of the Facebook page mentioned earlier and researched TEFL as an online opportunity. I was progressing nicely with the course and teaching at school was becoming more enjoyable again (yes actual teaching, not the politics that goes with it) because I knew my plans. Friday came and boom. Up steps Mrs X with a stark reminder of why I need to get out. I was furious that this person had ruined the start of my weekend. Going home to family in this mood is neither right nor fair on them; it’s not their fault after all. It was then I felt that perhaps I could do literally anything to get out earlier than I planned while I learned TEFL. So back to the job websites. I trawled the usual pages and vacancies and eventually did what I thought I would never do; I sent my CV to 5 adverts for ‘work from home as a distributer’. Yes, it was that bad. Or was it? Four made contact by email and none of them inspired me one bit, but one person, Laura rang me. “What’s your story?” she asked. I proceeded to waffle on about being a teacher and being desperate to get our when she stopped me mid rant. “I’m an ex teacher and Deputy Head too”. Wow, someone that understands. We immediately had a rapport and I haven’t looked back since.
She sent me some information about the company, so I delved a little deeper. I rang back and became a customer. I immediately decided to become a Partner in the business and began my online training. In hindsight, I’d have waited until later in December to start to get the business up and running in January as nobody is interested during the festive period. No matter, I persevered and booked a launch party at my house on January 6th. From there, I’ve learned new skills and discovered skills I didn’t know I possessed and earned commissions similar to that of my teaching salary, but all part time from home. I have progressed already to Team Leader status, have 20 personal customers, 50 group customers and a team of 12 Partners all doing well for themselves which naturally in turn means I am too. At the time of writing I am working on expanding my business and taking it online, and all from the comfort of my own home.
During this time, I have finished the TEFL course and secured a position with an American company to teach English online where I choose my hours around my life. It’s truly eye opening what you can find and do for yourself when you have a plan and go about executing it. Click on the link to discover a new way to earn.“
Eileen – Set up Your Money Sorted
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“At times I wondered whether the stress was going to kill me, as my life seemed to career out of control.
Shattered, stressed and fed up with the demands of 3 young children, a teaching career and managing a household, I felt totally overwhelmed and had no idea what to do about it.
Why was I feeling like this?
Because I felt like I was juggling everything….badly!
I couldn’t remember birthdays, couldn’t think more than 1 day ahead of myself, was meeting deadlines at the last minute, throwing beans and toast at the kids (not literally, though tempting sometimes!) had a never ending list of tasks to do and was working till past 9pm most nights.
For someone who used to be in control, this felt horrible!
I felt stuck, but I was too busy and too stressed out to think straight
I tried various methods of improving my situation.
Setting rules around work/relaxation times, writing to-do lists, ripping up to-do-lists, signing up to productivity emails, (then getting stressed out because they were filling my inbox), forgetting about everything and drinking copious amounts, meditating (or should I say trying to….?) and various other methods.
While some things worked for a wee while, others just annoyed me (group meditating is NOT for me!); nothing was actually helping me.
I was still stressed out and overwhelmed.
I am sure I was not alone, but it felt like it
I knew that my teaching colleagues were struggling with stress at work, but we never really discussed the stresses that having a family added to that.
Eventually I realised that something had to give, or my mental health was going to suffer badly, so I looked for other options.
After training, I started my own bookkeeping business and cut down to a 0.4 contract.
I absolutely loved the bookkeeping and shutting myself away, in a quiet office, with a pile of paperwork was bliss! However while it solved the stress, the guilt and work-life balance, it meant that we were considerably worse off than we had been. This led to me feeling stressed and anxious about money instead!
That then led me on a personal development journey and into the world of coaching. I then retrained as a life coach and money coach and I love the benefits that coaching has had for me as well as for my clients. I am now so much happier, more focused and very rarely stressed about anything (apart from trying to stop my 3 teens from leaving stuff lying about!!).
A lovely bonus is that I really love teaching again, because I can enjoy all the great things about being a teacher, without having to work myself to the bone.
As I improved my own situation, I realised that the things I had learned would be valuable to many other teachers too. I now help other teachers to become happier, healthier and wealthier, through my wellbeing and wealth coaching.
As part of this I have developed a teacher wellbeing programme, focusing on 3 areas: helping teachers to live a life that makes them happy, creating a better work-life balance and simple steps to financial security and happiness.
I hope that, by taking control of their life and their finances, more teachers will be happy in their jobs and will be able to enjoy teaching once again. However, for some, it might mean leaving the classroom, choosing a different profession, or starting their own business, and basic support for this is also included in the programme.
Regardless of whether people stay in teaching, or leave teaching, I am on a mission to help thousands of teachers to feel happy, calm and financially secure. If any of this has resonated with you, then why not pop along and join my free Facebook group for teachers?”
Deborah – Set up The Reading Doctor
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“In 2012, after 19 years of teaching, I made a decision to leave the classroom behind and actually teach again! School had become an overflowing stream of initiatives, targets, inspections and unrealistic demands which found me questioning their purpose and value. I never wanted to be that moaning teacher in the staff room, so, decided to do something about it!
All passionate educators understand the importance of children becoming literate. As a reading recovery teacher, I became aware of the barriers to success and developed a range of tools, resources and strategies to ensure every child I taught learned to read. After leaving the classroom, The Reading Doctor was born. I used my experience to launch a home tuition business coupled with school consultancy work to raise attainment for the lowest achieving students.
Seven years later, there are five Reading Doctors, each with their own thriving businesses. Ofsted have recognised the success of the programme and The Reading Doctor is going from strength to strength. On a personal note, I have rediscovered my reasons for becoming a teacher and see this through the success of Reading Doctor pupils every day.”
Janet – Clinical Hypnotherapist
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“I gave up 4 years ago after 25 years of teaching. I retrained as a Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist and have not regretted leaving one little bit. I’ve not missed it either even though teaching was all I ever wanted to do from the age of 8! I’m still teaching but now I’m teaching people how their brain works, why we suffer with anxiety etc and what we can do about it!
I now help people to reduce their anxiety and improve their sleep. All my clients are given a relaxation recording to help them to improve their sleep. If we get enough sleep (between 7 and 9 hours for adults) then we can cope with stresses of life much better.
You can read more about Janet’s work, including a free copy of her relaxation recording in my section on Sleep Deprivation and Stress.
Julie – Independent Private Tutor
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“I was made redundant in 2016. I had just under 30 years of teaching experience and had spent at least 20 of those years involved with SEND, as a SENCO, LEA support teacher, a specialist teacher (dyslexia) and finally as Manager of a Peripatetic Teaching/Support Service.
Stress-related shingles and a lengthy recovery finally put an end to any thoughts of returning to full time teaching. Reluctantly, I took early retirement and faced the prospect of selling my home and downsizing to make ends meet.
I took a 150 hour TEFL course while I was recovering from shingles and completed it with a 98% grade. Three years on … I’m an independent private tutor, teaching English and Maths to children 6yrs+ and English as a Foreign Language to adults.
Still in my home and able to continue paying off the mortgage. I am studying for a Masters Degree in Special and Additional Needs with UEL and ICEP. I couldn’t be happier.
With 14 regular students and demand for tuition growing, I have a certain amount of security and I can enjoy teaching again.
I’m not surprised that so many teachers are leaving. A short stint as a supply teacher demonstrated how difficult the workload is for the ordinary classroom teacher. Even supply teaching is difficult to find and the uncertainty drove me to self employment and private tuition.
It’s not for everyone, but for me it has sent me on a totally new path and I’m feeling optimistic about my own prospects as a 58 year old in the field of education.”
Jayne – Blood Donor Carer
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“I now work for the NHS as a Blood Donor Carer Driver. Earning less money but you adjust. No stress and no working at home for hours on end.”
Farrah – Regional Trainer
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“I’m now a regional trainer for a private Company working with students and delivering training to teachers in schools.”
Joanna – The Body Shop at Home
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“I left teaching two years ago. I now work for the amazing company that is The Body Shop at Home (since Feb only) and an now on half the ‘salary’ that I was on as a teacher but I’m not spending half my salary on before and after school club, extra baby sitters for appointments etc. I work the hours I chose, it’s my business. I’m my own boss now. Pm me for more info, you can do it and believe me, it’s such a better quality of life….”
Louise – Teacher in a Pupil Referral Unit
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“I left mainstream and now work at a PRU. I’m so glad I gave teaching a second chance as I really couldn’t be happier. Of course the kids are challenging but it’s much more like I thought teaching would be. Relationships come first over data.”
Elaine – Online Tutor
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“I have been asked by this page to explain a little further about my job as an online tutor due to the amount of interest in it. Firstly, please understand this is my own experience, I am not a salesperson and just commented to help someone who was asking for suggestions! After leaving full time teaching in 2013, I chose to be a supply teacher. I did this until early this year. I did mainly emergency cover because I found once I took on longer contracts it was straight back to all the planning/assessing/parent’s evenings etc.
Last year one of my friends asked if I had heard of online English teaching. I hadn’t and she sent me the details. I was very interested in what I heard, I completed the TEFL qualification over the summer holidays last year and started tutoring in October 2018. At first I was still doing supply as I gained confidence (mainly with the technology). However, I found I really enjoyed it and took the plunge in February to go self-employed and now work online pretty much full time.
The company I work for is called Itutorgroup. There are many other companies out there that employ online English teachers, but this is the one I work for. Some teachers work for several but I prefer to stick with the one. (I was the same as a supply teacher to be honest). I got the position through a recruiter. The recruiter was Comfort Education As far as I am aware, they still recruit for ITutor. You can also apply direct to ITutorgroup (http://www.itutorgroup.com/).
You will need a Bachelor’s Degree and a TEFL qualification. I did not do an expensive qualification, I obtained mine from Oplex Careers. I think I paid about £30 for it. It was an online course, I found it pretty interesting and not at all difficult. The company accepted it without issue. I believe there are other places you can use to gain this qualification as well. I am not going to be commenting further on this. I hope I have covered everything. I am very happy doing this job, I enjoy teaching Asian children, I don’t mind the fact there is a time difference (they are 8 or 7 hours ahead depending on our clocks!). The flexibility, the fact there is no commute, and the ability to work 7 days a week, all year round if you should wish to do so (I don’t!) makes up for it.”
Jo – Higher Executive Officer
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“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 – Set up Tutoring Business
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“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 – Software Developer
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“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 – Set up her own Emotional Wellbeing Business
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“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 (opens in a new tab)
Phillip – SEN Social Work
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“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 – Antenatel Teacher
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“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 – Set up educational business
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“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. littlelearnersuk.com“
Sarah – Administrator
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“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 – Multi-skilled Craftsman
“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 – Business Coach
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“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 – SEN Teacher
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“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 – Charity Worker
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“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 – Education Welfare Officer
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“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 – Driving Instructor
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“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 – Driving Instructor
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(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 – Public Health
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“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.”
Victoria – Children’s Support Service
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“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 – Private Sector
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“I have just started working in the private sector…..pressure is different, but paperwork is significantly reduced and the support is amazing.
Stress = gone”
Miffy – Manager of a Vintage Shop for a Charity
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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. I’d 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 advice 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 – IT and Finance Roles
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“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 – Pharmaceutical Industry
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“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 – Set up web design business
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“I earn more running my own company of writing and web design.”
Rachel – Tutoring Apprentices
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“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.”
Ami – Online Health and Wellness Coach
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“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 this link.
Anonymous – Bid Writer
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“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.”