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It’s September. For anybody who has ever worked in education that means only one thing – back to school. I started teaching in 1990 (that makes me feel really old!) and, since then, there have been very few Septembers when I haven’t had that odd mix of dread and excitement when the first day of term rolls round. For one of those Septembers I chose the first day of term to be the day I flew to Beijing and started a ‘year off’. Another was the following year when I didn’t have a job to return to or a plan for the future.

Last year was very strange though. I had walked away from my permanent, part-time teaching position in a school where I’d worked on and off for ten years with no idea what to do with the rest of my life – I just knew that it wasn’t going to be that job in that school. I’m not alone in abandoning teaching and the reasons I’ve heard from other teachers are myriad, some similar to mine, some more akin to utter despair. I could ramble on about the politics for ages but this isn’t the place.

My first year away from a permanent job has been varied and interesting. I’ve done some supply teaching – mostly English and drama – I’ve done a lot of walking in the north of England and further afield, I’ve applied (unsuccessfully) for jobs outside teaching and I’ve had a book published. It’s been a good year and not at all what I expected. It was a scary leap into the unknown but a necessary one.

And now it’s September again. I have an appointment to sign up with a supply teaching agency, I’m still looking for work outside teaching and my next novel is due to be published in the next few months. I have no idea what this academic year will bring but I’m nowhere near as worried as I was this time last year.

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