Alan's story | Education Support
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Alan's story


Welsh primary headteacher Alan, not his real name, was about to leave teaching after more than 20 years in the profession.

He was very disillusioned and couldn’t see himself ever returning to the classroom after a period of severe stress forced him to take sick leave. But with our help he found there was light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been a teacher for 24 years and a deputy head then head for the past 18. Apart from breaking my leg I have never taken any time off work. Then in August 2017 I had to go on sick leave due to severe stress. We’d had an Estyn that didn’t go very well and then the roof blew off the building in a storm. It all culminated in me feeling so stressed I had to come to the conclusion that my health was more of a priority than my career.

I knew if I returned it couldn’t be as a head any longer. But I wasn’t sure I could ever return to the chalkface and began talks with my union for a redundancy package.

Asking for help was something completely out of my comfort zone. I should’ve realised sooner that work was having a negative effect on my health.


My income took a significant drop and my financial situation became desperate. Then someone in my union mentioned Education Support which I’d never heard of. So I got in touch with the grants team which was very difficult for me to do as I’d always been able to support myself and my family, a wife who works in hospitality and our two children a girl aged 11 and a boy ten.

Fortunately the process was painless. I found the Grants Caseworker Carl very pleasant and easy to talk to. He totally understood my situation. Now the financial burden has been temporarily removed it’s given me some space to think about the future. I had felt that I was treated very badly by my school after making so many sacrifices of my time and everything else. Teaching was taking my health away. Now I see there is light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve gone back as a supply teacher.

Darkest days over

Asking for help was something completely out of my comfort zone. I should’ve realised sooner that work was having a negative effect on my health. But we don’t realise these things as they happen. It creeps up on you. The irony is about eight years ago I had to help a teacher going through something similar and I thought I would never find myself in that situation, but then it happened to me. It can happen to anyone.

I feel I am coming out of it now. The darkest days are over. At one time I didn’t ever see myself being involved in the education sector again. But I don’t want to go into any other line of work. I’ve had some fantastic times as a teacher and I’m glad I can still make a contribution. 


What made the work so difficult was the cutbacks. It meant our workloads increased just as our staff numbers were having to be cut back. Everyone had to do more work for less money as the pay freeze was like a pay cut. We also lost support staff which made life even harder. Right now it suits me to do supply work but I may return to something full time in the future. I’ll see how my health is.

I’m so very grateful to Education Support. It’s very humbling to find out that other people are willing to help. I had seen my GP and a counsellor but they’re always extremely busy and don’t have as much time for you as you need. So the emotional support from Education Support really helped too.

I wish when I’d been a head helping out stressed teachers that I’d know about Education Support as I would’ve definitely told them to get in touch. I’m so glad it exists for teachers and all education staff. It really made all the difference to my life and my family’s at a time when I just couldn’t see a way out.

How we can help you

Our confidential grants service is here to help you manage your financial and money worries to get you back on track when you are struggling.

If you are working in or retired from the education sector and are suffering financial problems caused by unemployment, ill health, sudden life events, bereavement or a personal injury we may be able to offer support.

Please visit our grants page to find out more and apply.