Please give me your thoughts. I first worked in classrooms at the age of sixteen as an unpaid teaching assistant in the local village primary school. After my A levels, I signed up with Voluntary Service Overseas who jetted me off to the Fiji Islands at the tender age of eighteen to spend a memorable year teaching English, History and Geography at the high school on the remote island of Rotuma. Then it was back to Britain and straight up to the University of Stirling where, after four years, I gained an honours degree in English Studies with Education having undertaken teaching practices in a range of schools including St Mungo's Academy in Alloa and Alva Academy.
I could have stayed in Scotland but I preferred to get back to England. My career hasn't been what you might call meteoric. Over thirty two years, I have taught in just three South Yorkshire schools and for the last fifteen years have been Head of English in my present school. I have been Mr Dependable - never absent, always there, meeting the deadlines, supporting younger colleagues, oiling the wheels. Septembers have come and gone. The conveyor belt in the sausage factory has kept turning. I have given so much of myself, seen so many children and so many teachers come and go...to a point when I am now, in terms of years of service, the longest serving teacher in the school. How did that happen?
I decided some time ago that this academic year would be my last at that school. I just couldn't see myself there at sixty. It would have killed me. I have earned a reasonable pension package -albeit slightly reduced - but it would be easy enough to sign up for another school and put another couple of years in without the intense pressure and scrutiny associated with leadership and management. In fact I saw such a post advertised ten days ago in a school that is much higher up the league table. But do I really want that daily grind any more? Lessons to plan, books to mark, behaviour incidents to challenge and report, deadlines to meet, spreadsheets to fill. Late nights and lost weekends. The emotional toll.
It would help the family moneypot that's for sure but we're okay - no mortgage, some savings, the kids pretty much grown up.
What could I do instead? I could polish up my writings - plays and stories aimed at mid-teenagers. I could design and make mosaics. Return to song-writing and painting. I could sign up to be a temporary supply teacher - just to bring in extra money. Re-establish our vegetable plot. Make a pond. Get fitter. Travel some more - Guyana, Tuvalu, The Leeward Islands, keeping New Zealand for later when Shirley's able to commit six weeks.
I guess that the dilemma that faces me is one which thousands of people in less comfortable circumstances would envy but as the end of twenty three years at my present workplace approaches, I feel a growing sense of apprehension laced with uncertainty. How do you think I should move forward?