From time to time I wonder that I was ever a teacher in school. It’s been a while but here’s the story…
I graduated as a qualified teacher way back in 1991, working in Early Years in schools in Hampshire until moving to Bradford in 1998 where I continued my career in early years until 2002.
For a while after that I battled with my own mental health problems* before eventually finding my way into a wonderful special school where I started again as a teaching assistant supporting learners with Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties. It was a lovely post in a lovely school, and helped me to heal and to regain my confidence.
In 2010 I was able to return to my position as SEN Supply Teacher, but frustratingly this came at a difficult time for both pupils and staff of Bradford Council’s special schools. The Council’s complete restructure of its special school provision involved the closure of existing schools (including mine) and the opening of 3 brand new, purpose built schools. Many of the staff were wonderfully talented and committed, and we all did our absolute best to try to help our young learners negotiate their way through an extremely difficult period of change. Inevitably some of the staff I’d worked alongside chose to take redundancy while those who needed to continue their careers were required to apply for a new post in one of the new schools. I decided to stick with supply work so didn’t apply for a permanent post and I watched as this process of ‘reassimilation’ took its toll on many of my colleagues. In many cases the whole thing was deeply distressing. with some people struggling to find a post at all. Despite the council putting some support in place in the form of short meetings with a visiting life coach, many people felt deeply let down, rejected and hurt.
Once the new schools opened I approached a couple of them to offer myself as a supply teacher. One of the schools told me that they would no longer be using supply so that was that. The other school employed me for 3 days at the end of the summer term and added me to their payroll. But by the time the Autumn term arrived something that I was not privy to had evidently changed and the school no longer wanted supply teachers.
The whole thing seemed to be in a mess. Sadly for me, what had been healing had become destructive and I felt that I had no choice but to ‘retire’ from teaching in Bradford. Looking back I realise that with determination I may have been able to find supply work and/or a new post elsewhere, but this didn’t seem possible to me at the time. My mental health just wasn’t up to it.
*I’m planning to write more about this in another post about mental health