Ashley’s story: how we helped get her back into teaching
English teacher Ashley shares her story of depression caused by bullying in her school and how we helped get her back into teaching.
Your stories / 3 mins read
Ashley was headhunted for a job in an outstanding school - she eagerly accepted the job but once in post, it became clear that the interim headteacher was never going to be happy with her or her work, no matter what she did.
His treatment of her led to her being diagnosed with depression and being signed off work. By reaching out to her union and calling the our helpline she was able to get support, find a new role and get back to work. She now says she’ll tell anyone who will listen about her experience if it encourages someone to get the help they need and stay in teaching.
The best thing about calling the helpline was how quickly Education Support could offer me the support I needed and how much they understood the work of a teacher, the environment we work in and the pace we work at.
I loved school - I had some of the best times of my life there. I wanted to teach, my own teachers inspired me and I wanted to give other children the same experiences and passion that I had. And I’ve always wanted to help children who need a bit of extra support at school. I was at a brilliant school for my NQT year and stayed for a couple of years afterwards. I was headhunted by the only outstanding school in my area and they offered me a promotion which I took. I said I’d need some support as it would be a big step up and I was given assurances I’d get it.
When I started though, it became clear pretty quickly I wasn’t going to get any support. I had no mentoring, my PPA time was regularly taken away from me, I wasn’t given copies of school policies or told about school protocol, all of which made my job in the senior leadership team really difficult. I realised from the way the Headteacher was behaving to me that no matter what I did and how hard I tried, he wasn’t going to be happy.
My GP gave me anti-depressants but what Education Support offered me was the additional support needed to help me come out the other side.
He did things like not tell me that office dress was worn for inset days - so I turned up in casual clothes and was the only one not in office dress which was really embarrassing for a new, senior member of staff. He criticised my classroom displays because I’d not designed the borders according to the school display policy (which I’d been asking for all summer and which he’d never shared with me) and told me to be ruthless to the teachers I was mentoring, which I refused to do. Finally, he called me into his office in what turned out to be an ambush, claiming that I’d be facing disciplinary action for a private social media post that was in no way related to the school. He’d brought representation to the meeting, but not given me the option to do so.
I started getting ill all the time and was feeling increasingly like I couldn’t cope. I kept flipping between not being able to get up in the morning and running solely on adrenalin. I was not in a good place, and ended up being signed off with depression. At this point I got in touch with my union for some help and they recommended Education Support and the helpline. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I phoned and I put it off for two days, before making the call.
The best thing about calling the helpline was how quickly Education Support could offer me the support I needed and how much they understood the work of a teacher, the environment we work in and the pace we work at. My GP gave me anti-depressants but what Education Support offered me was the additional support needed to help me come out the other side.
Between the union and Education Support I got access to counselling and CBT to give me some tools to help me manage things, and support on how to explain the gap on my CV and what to say at interviews. I was signed off in December but by February half term had a new job and was back to work. The Head at the new school was much better, and very understanding of what I’d been through. It all worked out really well.
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