Transitioning into a new life beyond the classroom.

This is the moment you have been dreaming of – the moment where you can hand in your notice and walk away from the classroom. But reality is a sneaky snake. Those gremlins are back filling your head with doubts.

  • Have you made the right decision?
  • What if you are making a terrible mistake?
  • How can you be sure that your new plans will work out?
  • What if you fail?
  • What if you are still unhappy?

There are four broad stages of transition from leaving a career in education to changing to a new career path. These consist of:

The Mapleleaf Vision blog covers each of these stages to provide helpful advice, practical tips, and plenty of supportive guidance from a former headteacher who has successfully transitioned to a new career path and discovering it is possible to #LiveDaringDreams

Your transition from the classroom takes two forms. The mental shift in moving from one career identity to another and the physical transition of a career change. In this guide, we will be tackling the physical transition before finally dealing with those gremlins in your mind.

Leaving the classroom behind – the physical transition.

Handing in your notice

If it is your intention to hand in your notice once you have a secure job offer, it is normally advisable to have an offer in writing before resigning your current post. Do be aware of the long notice periods associated with education.

Resignation dates for teachers and school leaders (not head teachers)

  • 31st October – contract will terminate 31st December. Available for new job: January.
  • 28/29th February – contract will terminate the last day of the Easter holiday. Available: summer term onwards.
  • 31st May – contract will terminate 31st August. Available for new job: September.

For headteachers, you will have a two-term notice period, so Christmas to leave at the end of the academic year, and so forth.

If you are exiting under challenging circumstances, involve your union for support and DO NOT submit a resignation without union advice. Speak to a GP if you are experiencing health issues. Get support.

Try to keep your resignation letter professional. This is not the forum for listing grievances, complaints or general “horrible job / horrible boss” comments. If you want to do that, ask for an exit interview. Otherwise, just keep your resignation brief, to the point stating you wish to resign and the date you expect your contract to terminate.


It is good manners and practice to ask the person you wish to use as a referee and let them know you are actively engaged in job seeking. For one, your referee will be able to look out for reference requests and not delete thinking it’s spam mail; it also gives them a chance to decline, which is preferable for you than having someone write a reference unwillingly or simply ignoring it, holding up a recruitment process and causing you to explain to a potential employer why you need to give a different reference.

Two or three references are normally expected. One must come from your current or most recent place of work. Hence why it is a good idea not to go out in a blaze of burnt bridges and mud-slinging in your resignation letter! It’s also worth noting that you may need to use your current or most recent employer for a reference for some time. The second reference is from the next most recent employer, so even after you change jobs and have a new employer, your school may still need to be reference two – not always, but possible!

Notice period

Depending on your circumstances, you may have a lengthy notice period to work before you actually exit. Again, it is advisable to try to maintain professionalism if not for the school, for the children and parents who still deserve the best you can offer. The last thing you need is a reference being revoked, any form of disciplinary action over conduct or anything to jeopardise a dignified exit.

It is worth finding out which staff meetings and training is still relevant for you to attend. It’s also worth having a conversation about what is expected in terms of a handover. Handover requests are normal to ensure the continuous provision in the education setting but they should also be reasonable. If in doubt, speak with your union.

Leaving day

This may sound odd but do not expect anything. You may have had a long and exceptional service, but it has been known that several schools simply do nothing – no acknowledgement, no gift, no card – just a quiet slip out the door as if you never existed. If this happens, you will feel worthless and angry that you gave everything just to be spat out at the end. But you are out – life goes on and you will be happy and appreciated elsewhere!

If you do get a send-off, the key to a successful transition is to exit with dignity. This doesn’t mean you cannot shed a tear or two if that’s how you feel. It does mean that you shouldn’t use the occasion to get on your soapbox and leave in a trail of stigma. It’s your last day in the profession – exit interviews are over – there’s nothing more for you to do but exit.

Hopefully you have managed to clear out a lot of your belongings in advance but now is the time for that last check. Take what you want, leave what you don’t want. The essential thing is that you do not need to come back for anything you’ve missed. So, make sure that last sweeping check is thorough enough.

Don’t linger over lengthy goodbyes. Do them quickly, keep it as casual as you can. You are leaving a job, not being diagnosed with terminal illness. The people you like will be seeing you again before you know it; for those who don’t add value in your life, why waste time on them now? Have everything ready to drive away – and then just do it. Leave. Don’t look back – there’s nothing there for you anymore. Your future is ahead – so look towards it. Go, and keep on going! Your new journey has begun.

What happens if you need more support?

It is reasonable for anyone considering a career change to do their research before taking the leap. Maybe you are still in a job you hate but feel too overwhelmed to take these steps alone. Perhaps you are even still stuck at the crossroads not knowing what you want to do next or how to find your right path to a job that makes you happy.

If you need more support, help and guidance is right here to take you step by step along the journey. You don’t have to do it alone. Imagine having someone with first-hand experience and lots of expertise on hand to guide you each step, someone in your corner championing your success and achievements, building your confidence, helping you fix what is broken and empowering you to be everything you dreamed you could be.

Welcome to the Mapleleaf Vision. A world in which people are never afraid to chase their dreams.

Get in touch and start your discovery now.



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I first worked with Will whilst I was a junior member of a teaching team. I worked closely with him for around three years and he became a true mentor to me. During this time Will helped encourage me to discover my own leadership style and he mapped out what it takes to be successful. I highly recommend Will for life and career coaching.

Will is a professional, natural leader who manages to make you feel at ease. He manages to be both emphatic and encouraging, whilst also managing to challenge you to find your own answers. Will’s approach is totally non-judgmental and the sessions are really focused on you and on what you want to achieve. Working with Will has allowed me to address challenges I was facing and he brought a wealth of resources and practical tools to help me set goals, clarify my values, and explore avenues right away. Even though I left teaching 5 years ago, I still seek out Will for his help and guidance and I appreciate his versatility as a thought partner, ally, and coach. Our sessions are always productive and efficiently run, which is perfect for someone who is juggling many priorities! Will brings great communication, professionalism and quality to his work and I highly recommend him as a life/business coach.
- Jamie T (Leadership Coaching)

Highly recommended

I am so glad I found Mapleleaf Vision! Will has been super supportive and understood exactly what I needed to help me to redirect my focus. I now have fresh enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
- Greg M (Life Coaching)


Will at Mapleleaf vision fitted me in for a last minute decision-making session that I needed to make ASAP re. a job offer / career change. He was friendly, professional, and really knew his stuff! He unpicked things that I could never have done on my own. I’m so grateful to him & will be highly recommending him to everyone! Where there is a ‘Will’, there’s a way! Thank you, Will. You truly have a gift.
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