When Should We Leave?

I have been thinking about this ‘theory’ for a while now. (That means around an hour!)

I KNOW there is no right or wrong answer here, I KNOW there is no formulae to follow here, but I guess I want to open this up for discussion…


When I first started in my role as an Assistant Head Teacher, I think I was everything I wanted to be in a leader. I made time for everybody, I routinely went and ensured all my teams were OK and I was around for each and every single one of them, every day. I put my teams well-being well above mine. I was happy to ‘weather’ this while I settled into the role.

(For some background information about my role click here!)

All my teams commented on my presence and my involvement with them from the ground level. They said it was refreshing that I was visible to them and the students… However, as time has gone on, my workload has increased, my responsibilities have become more ‘intense’ in relation to expectations and outcomes. The newbie sheen has well and truly rubbed off! I have become maybe, less effective? at being the above with my teams. Nonetheless my level of productivity has definately improved… but for who? I feel I am now, much better at my job. I feel confident as a leader and I feel I am doing really well! I feel my teams can manage themselves now… Result?

So… is there any weight in suggesting that we should all leave our current places of work after…

  • A maximum of 5 years as a classroom teacher

  • A maximum of 3 years as a Senior Leader

  • 5 years for a HeadTeacher?

Does a promotion count as a change? I was at my previous school for seven years and changed my role every 2 years…? Why should we change? Because as time goes by pressures and workplace ‘issues’ begin to take over? Do we simply settle into stability? Do we get fixed in our routines? Do we just do what we always have? Do we get bored?

Are we at our optimal in the first stages of our place of work? Does the school get more out of individuals during their first years? 

Having sent this post to my Head Teacher she shared with me some of her thoughts. She told me she feels a changing leadership team, invokes changes within all. She also mentioned if a school goes through Academisation, Multi-Academy trusts etc do the timers start again? (I think so!) She also said,

‘Never stop learning. This is when complacency takes over.’

What do you think? Having read many comments from this post, having posted it in @StaffRM here I took on board some other factors to consider…

  • Geographical location: Down south, there are many schools for you to move on and around to… in other parts of the country this may not be the case and several schools in a short period of time can be seen with scepticism?
  • There are changes that can invoke a reinvigoration that does not require one to leave. That can include, a new role within the school, a new Head Teacher or a new Ofsted grading?
  • What about the students? Leaving in between their GCSEs/A Levels/SATs?
  • Thinking about the notice period- can people afford to leave!
  • Does Twitter/TeachMeets/StaffRM create that change for us too?
  • There are many other factors involved! Life is more complicated that what I have written!

PS- I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE MY JOB! I LOVE IT: I am going into my third year… I feel, one year, find your feet, second year make the changes and third year prove it was not a fluke! 🙂 One last point: The research of Hanushek and Rivkin,shows that teacher development tends to grind to a halt after the first few years in teaching, rather than continue to improve. (Ref.)




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