Lucy's story | Education Support

Lucy's story

Primary school teacher Lucy faced an impossible situation when she moved to a new job in London. She was faced with an ultimatum of either enduring physical violence from students or lose her job. She called our helpline who provided counselling and made her aware of our grants service, helping to pay her rent while she looked for a new teaching job.

My interest in teaching began with my brother who is a lot younger than me. One of things I did was help teach him to read and write before he went to nursery which I really enjoyed. I started volunteering at a few schools during my A-Levels and then went on to take a BA in Primary Teaching.

I was originally based in Oxford where I taught for 3 years. When I submitted a reference to work in London I received a lot of different recruiters speaking to me which was great but also quite difficult to manage. I found a new job quickly in a school on the outskirts of London in September.

When I arrived at the school I immediately realised that the students’ behaviour was very challenging. I’d made clear from the beginning that the one thing I hadn’t had much experience with dealing with extreme behaviour because even though I’ve been teaching for three years it just wasn’t something I had ever encountered, either at university or in my years at Oxford.

I was very if very difficult to manage this behaviour and what was worse was the fact that when I asked for support and advice, it was flatly denied. It got to the point where I would go home in the evenings and felt quite sad about it. I didn’t feel happy at all.

I asked for a meeting with my headteacher and said ‘it’s getting to the point where I’m feeling quite unsupported here’. I was having children being physically violent. I’d been informed that my observations were fine and I was an experienced teacher – even though I’d only been teaching for three years. But I was given an ultimatum – either carry on or leave.

The following morning, I called up the Education Support helpline. The lady on the phone was absolutely amazing, she gave me the confidence that I wasn’t going mad asking for advice. She really helped and told me that I was being pushed into a corner and that I shouldn’t be getting bullied.

She said to me that, sadly, my school didn’t seem likely to budge on the matter and to contact my union and also the Education Support Partnership Grants Service, to help me financial if I left halfway through my contract. I was amazed they could help, she said: ‘We want to keep you in the profession, rather than you thinking it’s been such a negative experience that you move on to other things!’.

I first heard about the helpline at university and after talking to family and friends I wanted to talk to someone with more inside knowledge of my current situation. It was really lovely to talk to someone who understood and really made me feel good about myself.

Following the advice from the helpline, I rang up Carl the Grants Caseworker and checked that it was ok if I applied – I’ve never applied for anything like this in my life! I don’t have any children and I’m not supporting anyone so I wasn’t sure if I was eligible. Carl asked me about my finances and let me know that he was assessing my case. I was amazed, I really wasn’t expecting any help at all. It gave me real confidence boost and made me feel that I’m actually wanted within the profession.

I went to three interviews following that and have now just started in a new role. Thanks to the grant I was able to pay my rent which is amazing and has really helped me to change jobs and stay in teaching.

People look at primary school teachers and think they earn good money and are financially secure, but it’s really not the case. Especially when you begin to spend money on resources. This week I’m teaching cooking, but I had to go out last night and buy all the ingredients!

I would recommend Education Support Partnership 100%. I have friends that were with me on my university course, and less than half (myself included) have stayed in teaching. I think if they knew about the helpline and grants it would have helped them stay in the profession.

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

If you need emotional support, our free and confidential helpline is here 24/7 throughout the UK on 08000 562561 for all education staff.