England
Northern Ireland
Scotland


The NASUWT recognises that situations arise where members may need to hand in their notice and resign from their substantive post.

The purpose of this advice and guidance is to provide comprehensive information to assist teachers during this time, bearing in mind that resignation can be a big step that requires due consideration.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your school/college, please talk to us so that we can give you further advice and assistance tailored to your particular circumstances.

England

Schools and colleges will require a reasonable amount of notice if you intend to hand in your resignation and leave your post. This provides the school/college with adequate time to advertise and secure a temporary or permanent replacement.

Your contract of employment should stipulate the notice period you are required to give, so you should check your contract carefully.

If your contract of employment does not stipulate a notice period, then in all likelihood you will be expected to provide the statutory minimum notice period.

What should you include in your resignation letter?

When submitting your notice, it is good practice to do this in writing (including email) and that you retain a copy of this for your records in order to avoid any issues in respect of when you gave notice. Indeed, your contract of employment may stipulate as much. Consideration should be given to specifying the date or term when you no longer expect to be employed at the school/college.

Who should you address your resignation letter to?

Unless your contract of employment specifies otherwise, your resignation letter should normally be addressed to your headteacher/principal.

For headteachers, letters of resignation should be addressed to the chair of governors. In situations where there is no governing body, the contract of employment should identify the appropriate person who the letter of resignation should be addressed to.

Notice periods for teachers working in England

The vast majority of publicly funded schools in England operate according to the provisions of the Burgundy Book - conditions of Service for Teachers in England and Wales which specifies the notice periods for teachers in local authority maintained schools.

Typically, you would be expected to give two months’ notice, and in the summer term three months’ notice, in order to leave your post at the end of the term.

Inclusive of school holidays, broadly speaking, the dates of the three English school terms run from the following dates:

  • for the autumn term, from 1 September to 31 December;

  • for the spring term, from 1 January to 30 April; and

  • for the summer term, from 1 May to 31 August.

Therefore, if you wish to leave your job, you would be expected to give notice by the following dates:

  • to leave at 31 December, give notice by no later than 31 October;

  • to leave at 30 April, give notice by no later than 28 February; and

  • to leave at 31 August, give notice by no later than 31 May.

If you are a headteacher, the Burgundy Book specifies a notice period of a minimum of three months’ notice and in the summer term four months’ notice to leave your post at the end of the term.

As referenced above, if you provide the appropriate notice you will be paid up to and including the last day of term, even though school holiday periods start earlier than these dates (e.g. paid until 31 August despite summer holidays usually beginning in July).

However, if you resign at the end of the spring term to take up another teaching post in a different local authority, you will be paid up to the day before the new school opens for the summer term if this is earlier than 1 May.

Teachers on maternity leave employed in accordance with the Burgundy Book

If you are a teacher on a period of maternity leave, then the provisions of the Burgundy Book in respect of notice periods referenced above still apply.

In addition, under the provisions of the Burgundy Book, if you do not return from your maternity leave for a period of 13 weeks, including school holidays and half-terms, following the birth of your child, then your school/college is entitled to reclaim part of the maternity pay you received which represents the 12 weeks paid at 50% of your salary.

These 13 weeks referenced above applies if you were working full time prior to your maternity leave. For those working part time, the period required is the equivalent of 13 weeks based on your work pattern.

Your school/college has the discretion to waive any notice period if your circumstances change following the birth of your child, including the requirement for you to complete the 13 weeks’ notice period, and pay back any occupational maternity pay.

The NASUWT would expect the employer to deal with any such situations sympathetically and sensitively.

If you are contemplating this, you should contact the NASUWT immediately for further advice and guidance.

If you are employed on a temporary basis in place of a teacher who is absent for reasons such as secondment, prolonged illness or maternity, you are exempt from the aforementioned statutory notice periods.

The resignation dates referenced in the Burgundy Book do not prohibit your employer from agreeing to you leaving earlier if you wish to do so, such as at half-term. However, this is entirely at the discretion of the school/college, so you may wish to meet to discuss this in more detail with your headteacher.

Teachers working in academies and free schools

Some academies and free schools may operate terms and conditions which do not adhere to the provisions of the Burgundy Book. They are therefore able to set different notice periods.

However, the overwhelming majority of academies and free schools do adhere to the same notice periods as those for maintained schools, but you are advised to check your contract carefully given the freedoms and flexibilities academies and free schools have.

Teachers working in sixth-form colleges

If you work in a sixth-form college, the notice periods are the same as those in maintained schools referenced above.

Teachers working in independent schools

If you are a teacher working in an independent school, you should check your contract carefully as notice periods can vary from school to school.

What if you are employed on a probationary period?

Despite the fact that the NASUWT does not advocate the use of probationary periods for teachers, the Union is aware that some schools/colleges which do not adhere to the provisions of the Burgundy Book employ teachers on contracts that include provisions for a probationary period.

As such, the statutory minimum notice period should apply, which in most cases is one week.

What is the notice period if I no longer want a job I have just accepted?

Once you have accepted a teaching job, it could be argued that you are bound by the relevant notice periods stipulated in the contract of employment, including situations where the offer of employment is conditional on satisfactory pre-employment checks (e.g. Disclosure and Barring Service - DBS) and references.

If you are contemplating this, you should contact the NASUWT immediately for further advice and guidance, as it may be the case that a mutual agreement can be reached between you and the school/college.

Breach of contract

It is important to note that if you leave your school/college without giving the required notice period, this could be seen as a breach of contract, as well as having a detrimental impact on any reference provided by the school/college.

If you are contemplating this you should contact the NASUWT immediately for further advice and guidance, as it may be the case that a mutual agreement can be reached between you and the school/college.

Northern Ireland

For a permanent teacher, or a temporary teacher paid as if they were permanent, the contract may be terminated by giving notice in writing of at least three calendar months for termination on the last day of any month, except for termination on the last day of August or September when at least four calendar months’ notice is required.

The contract can be ended earlier than this by mutual agreement.

A teacher employed through the Northern Ireland Substitute Teacher Register (NISTR) without a defined end date can leave employment at any time, but it is good practice to give a week’s notice.

Where a teacher is employed though NISTR with a defined end date, they should email the NASUWT Northern Ireland Centre for advice.

Scotland

Teachers on the main grade scale, teachers on the Chartered Teacher spine, music instructors, Education Support Officers, Quality Improvement Officers and Education Psychologists must give a minimum of four working weeks’ notice to terminate their employment.

All other teachers, Quality Improvement Managers, Principals and Depute Educational Psychologists must give a minimum of eight weeks, which includes four working weeks.

A working week comprises any week in which a school/establishment is open on any day for pupils and/or any employee covered by the terms of the SNCT Handbook, regardless of the number of hours that the school/establishment is open or that employees work in the said week.

Notice periods for teachers and associated roles who are employed by local authorities and subject to the SNCT Handbook of Conditions of Service are set out in SNCT Handbook Part 2: Section 9 - Other Provisions.

If you are a teacher working in an independent school, you should check your contract carefully as notice periods can vary from school to school.

If you need any further advice on notice periods and resigning from your job, please contact us.