T’was the week before term and whilst all my teacher friends and contacts are sweating over the return to school, I am feeling strangely relaxed. My suit is still in the dry cleaners, my board pens are somewhere in a box in the garage and my books are gathering dust on the shelf.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a blog about how great it is to be free from the shackles of school life, although I am not going to miss the navel gazing of results analysis spreadsheets and reports or the dull hours spent listening to someone reading out a powerpoint about the latest school priorities. This a slightly cathartic attempt to explain my story and the lessons which could be learnt for everyone in the education sector about the pathways within.
Teaching in schools is a very secure and predictable environment, in my 17 year career, I have changed jobs twice, both times I handed my notice in by the middle of May, to start a new role in September, a full 15 weeks or practically 4 months later (1/3rd of the year). Previously I worked as a buyer for two firms one educational publisher and a travel firm, leaving one job on the Friday to start a new one the following Monday in a very transient working environment. There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches, job security of course being the main advantage, I however, always felt a bit cornered, powerless to take advantage of some of the opportunities which presented themselves. Not that in reality there were many opportunities, and perhaps they were just perceived based on my ‘grass is always greener’ approach to life, but I always felt that I needed an ‘out’.
So here I am, out! I am fairly risk averse, but teaching nine different subjects across three different key stages, travelling over 2 hours to and from work every day was taking its toll. Added to 2 months off due to extensive shoulder surgery, the death of my Father and the effects of Covid-19, for my own health and well being if not the family finances it was time to be brave. I contacted my Union and requested they initiate an exit strategy, for both parties it was definitely the right course of action. So here I am, one week away from joining seemingly everyone else in the world, unemployed.
Yet I feel completely invigorated, so here is the masterplan, it will be interesting to see how many of these are ticked off before either I head off on holiday next summer, or am evicted.
Priority number one – Pay Septembers mortgage. I have registered with plenty of agencies, digging out old certificates and applying for DBS. Supply work is the priority, to make ends meet I probably need to bring home around £120-£130 a day, a quite and frighteningly tall order. I don’t actually know if any schools will take anyone on supply in the next few weeks with all this uncertainty? I guess pupils and teachers may well be hit by the French and Spanish quarantine rules? Who knows?
Priority number two – Set up a Tutoring Company. Its a mysterious world, tutoring. I hear of all these ex-teachers who have made successful transitions into tutoring, then I find out they all teach Maths! I have no idea if this will be successful or not, but I guess now is a good time to try. I will cover my experiences of setting up a company in my next blog post, but in the meantime excitingly http://www.castletutoring.com is live.
Priority Number Three – Contact schools to offer catch up sessions. Talking of opportunities, the Government is offering schools a catch up premium of £1bn towards a National Tutoring Programme, with each secondary school receiving approximately £80k. This money is for small one to one tuition and extra teaching capacity from September.
So overall, being free from a school contract has meant that I do not have the security of a monthly guaranteed wage and the ability to organise child care on a day to day basis around our work schedules, but I do have the flexibility to take on these new challenges and take advantage of the opportunities which in this post-lockdown world have presented.
Do let me know your own experiences and how this has shaped you and your career, I’d be very keen to pick up any hints and tips.