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How to resign from a teaching post

Career | Published 1 July, 2012 | By: Helen Beckett

Schools are like pressure cookers and teachers don’t always leave on the best of terms. If you’re in this delicate situation, how do you frame your resignation letter?

How to resign largely depends on your situation. If you have a job lined up, you can afford to be a little more candid than the teacher who has yet to secure the next position.  However, if you intend staying in the profession for the long haul, and, even more pertinent, in the same locale, diplomacy is the best tactic.

Keep it neutral

The tone of your resignation is all a matter of exchange theory, reckons TES careers expert John Howson. In other words, you need to weigh up the immediate satisfaction of slating your head against a longer term risk: namely, that you may come up against this individual further down the line in your career and they may have the power to adversely affect it.

For this reason, even if you’ve had an awful time, it’s worth keeping your resignation neutral, he counsels. Headteachers talk to each other and should your former head become the chairman of the local head teachers’ association, he or she could well be canvassed for an opinion.

Stick to the facts in your letter and keep it brief. ‘I have been offered a promotion at school X and therefore I wish to tender my resignation,’ is the only explanation that is required.

Be professional and think of your future

According to Normad , TES Connect forum contributor, a good resignation letter can be short and concise. However, an exceptional letter of resignation accomplishes much more in that it leaves your current headteacher with a positive feeling about you and establishes a basis for positive references in the future.

Nomad recommends the following for your resignation letter, especially if you are parting on difficult terms.

  • Don’t get personal or write personal remarks about your life and feelings in your resignation letter.
  • If you are leaving on bad terms, resist writing negative comments or complaints about the school, the job or other teaching staff in your letter of resignation.
  • Clearly state that you are resigning and the effective resignation date (e.g.31 August 2012).
  • Indicate that you regret leaving and mention positive things about your experience, your teaching and other colleagues, your work and the school.
  • Emphasise and highlight your most important contributions to the school or department.

You can read the rest of Nomad’s advice including how to behave post resignation, in the thread: I got the job now I need to resign

Give it to them with both barrels

Recommended only for those who intend to leave teaching for good, Simon Broomer, director of career balance, specialists in career change, thinks there is a value in straight talking. “Say it as how it is and don’t beat around behind the bush”, he recommends.

Not only is it personally useful for individuals to offload in order to move on, there is also a broader responsibility in speaking out, he believes, “If there’s something that you’re really concerned about, such as teachers’ safety in school, blowing the whistle may help others.”

For real impact, Simon suggests sending a copy of  your resignation letter to the school’s  local MP or even bypassing the headteacher and tendering your resignation to the board of governors. The letter shouldn’t be a peevish chronicle of all the incidents that have happened but could include a few bullet points detailing the reasons for your departure.

Need more advice? Visit the Ultimate guide to jobseeking


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