Mike worked as a teacher for 15 years, including time in SLT. During this time he got married and had two children. Last year he decided to quit teaching and start a new career working for a large UK based charity.
What made you decide to quit teaching?
I was working as a member of SLT within a large academy school, there were elements of my job that I still loved but I saw the trajectory I was headed on, and it filled me with dread. I was surrounded by colleagues that invested their lives in the jobs and had sacrificed so much; at the time my Headteacher talked regularly about how little he saw his children and the strain this had put on their relationships. My children were in the process of starting Reception and Year 2 and I already felt so guilty about barely catching bedtime in the evening, it was evident this wasn’t going to change and I wanted my priorities to change.
What steps did you take?
I found it hard! Lot’s of people talk about quitting teaching but very few do, and they remain miserable. I started to think about the parts of my job I enjoy and made a list of the features I wanted in a new career, this was really liberating and made me feel quite positive about the process. I knew I wanted to remain part of a team, work with children and feel like I was making a difference. I also added some new elements to the list; flexible working and a shorter commute! At this stage, I was able to start focussing on certain roles that seemed to suit and charities with an educational or child focus became increasingly appealing.
How did you finally land a role?
I applied for a role as Team Leader at a National Children’s Charity with an office in my City. The role includes visiting schools to talk about mental health and running workshops that engage children in emotional development. When I had my interview it was clear that many people came from similar backgrounds and whilst I was a few years older than the average employee I was made aware that my experience and expertise would be highly valued. The interview process was quite daunting but it was odd not to have to do a micro-teach! Throughout the interview, I was able to draw key examples from my time in the classroom and leadership. The whole experience was really positive, and I left excited about the possibilities. I was absolutely delighted when they called to offer me the role, and were really understanding regarding my notice period.
Let’s talk about money and holidays!
Ok, so I took a pay cut and I lost some holidays! But the tradeoff was worth it. My office has a flexible working policy meaning that I complete the majority of my role from home or adjust my hours as required. This has been invaluable and means I am a much more present parent, able to do the school run and attend end-of-term concerts without having to negotiate time off or pull a sicky! The pay cut has been tricky at times but I planned ahead and it only works out around £100 a month less than I received at L6 payscale. The holidays are generous but no way near what I recieved for teaching, however I can work from home so I am in a position to spend the holidays with my children and work from a laptop as required.
So what are the changes?
I don’t take work home, well rarely, so at 5pm I am done for the day and there is zero expectation to work at the weekend. The Charity take my wellbeing incredibly seriously and consequently make sure that any work beyond your 37 hours is taken as TOIL; it’s fairly unreal coming from 60-70 hour weeks to an expectation of working no more than 39. I have gained so much time with my children, even just being present during the school run and in the evenings has tightened our bond. It’s been genuinely life changing in this respect. I wake up on a Monday morning and feel happy to get to work; I am still improving childrens lives but now I am improving mine too!