I Quit Teaching and I’m Happy

quit teaching and happy

Quit Teaching and Happy. That’s me, I got there. When I was looking for routes out of teaching I hit brick wall after brick wall; I couldn’t work out what alternative careers were out there for me and, quite honestly, I was scared of the financial and personal-life obstacles I might face once I stepped away if I was even brave enough to quit teaching.

stressed teacher

I made this website because when I was looking for exit routes, I found nothing useful. I did find TES articles talking about the reasons people quit. I did see guilty NQTs admit they were struggling on Twitter and replies from teachers saying “hang in there, I have thought about quitting so many times but we have to continue” and other morally charged moments. I thought to myself… why? If a job is so distressing, leave. But the support wasn’t to be found – how does someone who has spent years qualifying and working jump ship and not suffer terrible financial repercussions?

By the time I finally decided to quit teaching I was earning around £45k; a decent public sector salary by any standards. I had a house with a mortgage, car with finance and a child that was in school but needed childcare until I could get back and collect. How was I going to afford to live when I changed careers? I was desperately searching for jobs that would get me away from school; some with £15k pay cuts! I wanted to quit teaching so badly that I considered anything.

My wellbeing had spiraled out of control. I drank every night, and ate too much. Stints at the gym were short-lived and fad diets popped up every few months. My weight had ballooned and, as I approached 40, I was genuinely worried about diabetes, heart disease etc. I knew my blood pressure was too high and the GP wanted me to lose weight. I was depressed and anxious, passing out with exhaustion (and alcohol) but struggling to wake up and start the day. The problem is teachers talk about this stuff like it’s part of the job, a badge of honor. Wellbeing issues are just part of the job! We see our colleagues get signed-off sick and think nothing of it because it happens with such regularity. Someone tells us they were up until 10pm marking, we don’t challenge that, we say “That’s nothing, I was up until 2am last week getting those books marked”.

Yet we soldier on. Because it’s our vocation. Our moral obligation. We might talk about leaving the profession with our closest work friends but don’t dare express a genuine interest in taking action. When we do, we feel the guilt pump through our body and the looks on our colleagues faces change.

“What about the kids?!” (What about MY kids?!)
“You’ll miss the holiday too much!” (Spent worrying about work?)
“You’ll be wasted outside teaching!” (Let me find out for myself!)

We worry what our loved ones will say. They supported us through a grueling training year. They saw the sacrifices, and made some of their own too! We probably teach to put others first, so when we get responses that make us question our judgement we accept them and struggle on.

In a 2017 TES article, they discovered that whilst teachers took a pay cut, they were overwhelmingly happier. In 2018 I lived that reality.

Escaping Teaching

Returning to work in September had always made me feel ill, 2017 was no different. By this point I was ready to quit and had been actively seeking employment away from teaching. I found it hard, resignation dates never matched or salaries were too low. I started losing a grip of my priorities and was looking further and further afield, desperate to find something that would save me. I knew if I was serious about leaving teaching, I had to make job hunting my hobby; so I did.

It wasn’t easy, I couldn’t get the advice I wanted. Every website I found was about teacher retention, and why I should stay in the profession. I am not anti-teaching, but I had made the decision, I wanted advice on how to leave. I had to do my own research.

Eventually, I had a system where I would set up alerts with a set of job websites I had identified as being in my areas of expertise. I had also listed my new job priorities as a set of non-negotiables. I used these guidelines to filter jobs that sounded appealing but would have led to other stresses e.g. financial burden, longer commute, loss of time with child, loss of weekends etc.

It took longer than I wanted. But I handed in my teaching notice in February 2018 to leave in the Summer. If I’m honest two things delayed me; not having support in my decision, and not knowing what lay on the other-side, being too afraid to find out.

Quittingteaching.co.uk is the answer to both of those problems, so I hope that you find your journey a little easier.

Quit Teaching and Happy. That’s me!


  1. Hi!
    I’m so glad I found your post just now! I’m in the US (Massachusetts) and have been teaching for 15 years but in the field as an assistant/job coach for about 5 years before getting my first teaching position. Just this past Friday, I got a job outside of teaching and I have to tell you, just the thought of maybe not working outside of school hours and not dealing with the demands of administration and parents makes me feel as though a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders. I am a good special education teacher and love my kids – I just hate how the system works (or doesn’t) and how little respect we are given by both colleagues/administration and people that know nothing about education (outside of their own). I’ve come to realize that no sane person that is made to have a minimum of a Masters degree to do this job is going to stick around for long – for the level of education we are expected to have and how little we are allowed to actually use that education and voice our professional opinion, it is just appalling! I am leaving my public school job to become a case manager to help the elderly and adults with disabilities that lead them to continue to be dependent on their parents into adulthood in about 8 school days. There are a few days I will be missing at the end but I needed to start this new position before school is supposed to let out for the summer – the rest of folks don’t work on a school year calendar, so I gave my professional 2 weeks notice this past Friday. In a couple of weeks, I will be a teacher on Friday and then a case manager on Monday – craziness!

    • Wow, what a journey! You hit the nail on the head with your comment about the expectation of being an expert in education whilst simultaneously have little power to use your voice to make the changes you feel need to happen. It sounds like you have made the right decision and a new life awaits. It is obviously challenging to step away from a career that has offered so many happy moments but too many people stick around longer than their passion and that isn’t fair on the children either. It is interesting that since stepping away from the classroom I have had space to consider the ways I might stay involved in education through outreach and enrichment. I will read more on the system in the US as I do get a lot of visitors from abroad and would like to be able to support them more.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. A colleague, close to retirement age, commented recently…I can’t imagine having to do another 20 years of teaching…and it made me stop and think. I really don’t want to either. Having taught for 15 years, with zero work life balance and low pay when you work out the pay per hour, I feel that unless I get out, I will be stuck in this situation until I retire in 20 years. Your website is the first one I have found with reassuring and practical advice. My heartfelt gratitude for taking the time to share your experience with others and make this process less daunting.

    • Hi,

      So sorry it took so long to reply! Thank you so much, I recognise your worries and have been there myself! There is so much concern over retaining teachers that the pressure to stay is overwhelming. SLT, colleagues and friends can all make us feel guilty for wanting to leave a career that is eroding our wellbeing. There are fabulous schools out there, but you’ve contributed for 15 years – if you decide to look at different careers, you have certainly earned a break!

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