‘I sold my house, came out as homosexual and stood as a Green councillor’: life after headteaching

As task ads cross, it’s now not the most attractive. No marvel headteachers are resigning in droves: in keeping with a latest survey by the National Association of Headteachers, more than a 3rd (34%) are taking into account leaving before retirement. At the same time, more than a quarter of schools (27%) could not fill their management positions ultimate yr – this is extra than double the variety (12%) of faculties that did not fill these roles in 2017.

Nigel Utton 55. Was: Kent primary headteacher. Now: osteopath

When I became ahead, I watched several friends who have also been headteachers die from stress, have nervous breakdowns, or be booted out of the career thanks to stupid selections by Ofsted. All around me, people were disappearing. I absolutely consider the moment I decided to stop. I was 50 years old, on an excursion, and the government announced they would start testing four-yr-olds. I grew to become my wife and stated: I am not doing that. I refuse. That turned into the very last straw. In my opinion, setting stress on four-year-olds is criminal.

I meant to look out the school for 12 months, but I couldn’t. A few weeks later, I was interviewed on the radio, bursting into tears, talking about why I had resigned. Afterward, I turned into asked to signal a non-disclosure settlement. I left my school weeks later and feature in no way been returned. My mental fitness crashed. I changed into fairly famous regionally as the Kent Headteachers’ Association chair, and the loss of my fame became hard. Very fast, I have become depressed and stopped ingesting. But steadily, with counseling, I began to feel better and decided to retrain as an osteopath. I had usually desired to be one once I changed into younger. However, I couldn’t find the money to examine osteopathy.


I went to college in Swansea, was given divorce, offered my home, came out as homosexual, moved to Norwich, and installation my own exercise. It has most effectively been going some months; however, it’s been superb. I love my work so much now that I plan to paintings for any other 20 or 30 years. I earn a long way less than I used to – I slightly cowl my bills – however, I don’t miss the financial safety. I find it exciting and challenging. Besides, I actually have savings I can rely upon and my pension to sit up for.

I’ve regained my sense of status as a enterprise owner and a neighborhood councilor for the Green celebration. I don’t omit to work with kids because I still work with them as patients. Running your own commercial enterprise is much like walking a faculty. There are other similarities too: like at faculty, I am supporting people and teaching them about their health. I’m a lot happier than after I was a confused-out headteacher, and I’m more healthy than I even have ever been in my existence. I was a primary headteacher for eight years when my college went into special measures in 2016. I advanced depression and left my post after being asked to signal a non-disclosure agreement.

I felt professionally and publicly humiliated. I cried plenty. The voice in my head changed into announcing: you’re a entire failure. So lot of my identity had been wrapped up in being a teacher. However, I in no way wanted to paintings in schooling once more. I loved operating with children but hated the manner schooling had modified underneath the Tories. I changed into unwell of the league desk recreation of effects and assessments.

Now I’m a police dispatcher. I earn about a 3rd of my former revenue. However, I have higher paintings-existence stability. Instead of running 70-hour weeks, I work 48 hours over 5 days, after which I have 5 days off. I do not do any earn a living from home. I selected the police due to the fact I virtually like serving the community. I paintings in the management center, dispatching police to a particular place, so I must manage restrained sources, investigate the extraordinary dangers beneath stress, and identify who will visit each job. But I’m used to that.

I experience lifestyles so much more. I can’t have the funds to save in Hobbs as often as I used to – but I can take inexpensive vacations at some point in term time. I still sense I do a vital process. The distinction is I can hand it all over to someone else at the quit of my shift. I now do not sense a heavy experience of duty after I’m not working. And the police look once you if you have to cope with something worrying at paintings. A trauma team talks it via with you afterward to ensure you’re all right.

I hope someday I can see paintings in infant protection. It became a privilege to run with children as a headteacher; they may be humorous and excellent to be around. I cherished it once I got thru to the maximum challenging scholars; I felt I changed into converting their lives for the better. But I don’t permit myself to appear again and experience remorse. I don’t permit myself to miss it. I made the selection I made to live on – and I’m plenty happier now.

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