Should you ditch your current career and retrain to be a teacher?
Updated: Oct 7
Whether you are considering a career change, or have been pushed to the financial edge like the writer of Can Gruffalos swim? Retraining to be a teacher is certainly appealing. But is it all long holidays and homemade Christmas cards (and presents) by the truckload? We asked for some honest responses from those brave folk who chose teaching as their second careers.
Former documentary film maker
" Teenagers can be tricky, but they are also funny, inquisitive and exciting to be around, but they do not suffer disorganisation or boredom lightly.
I'm still teaching after 15 years, so it works for me. The real transition was from working as part of a team in production to being on my own in the classroom. I love it, but some who start teaching after a career break find this hard.
In terms of work life balance - that is a tricky one. I have been lucky enough to work part time - 3 days a week while the kids were young and upped to 4 when they became more independent. Not sure I would have managed full time as the workload can be intense. Obviously the holidays are great when you have young kids, although now mine are all young adults. It can be annoying being tied to the school holiday calendar and paying premium for a break away".
Retrained at 50 after a career in advertising
"After years of working for my own and seriously commercial gain I wanted to give something back.
I am still driven but lost the feel for an industry where ideas seemed to be the same year after year, just told in a different way. You can lose perspective in a bubble of nonsense and forget the things that really matter. Children always have ideas and they seem brand new and full of possibility so really, it was about transferring my skills and harnessing children’s ideas instead!
Hopefully, retraining and pushing myself at this point is a decent example to my two girls. Frankly, we are surrounded by lots of children who have most of their lives managed for them. My children have had to learn to make a spag Bol and do the ironing and walk the dog and that’s not so bad! It’s been super hard but we’ve survived with a bit of chatting and taking our share of the responsibilities".
Former manager at VSO ( Voluntary Service Overseas )
"My eldest was in year 5, my middle child in year 1 and my baby about to go into the school’s nursery. Suddenly I was with them, walking to school chatting together about the day, overseeing them during playground duty, chatting to their teachers about them. I saw all their plays, concerts and certificates.
As a working mother of three, picking my children up at the end of every day from their childminder, often having got stuck in traffic somewhere first (again), rushing not to be too embarrassingly late, forgetting (again) to bring the childminder’s weekly payment, all of us tired and hungry and me then short-tempered and snappy usually left me feeling like a complete failure. At work, younger people were joining with, like me once, no commitments, so they weren’t rushing off as soon as the clock struck 5; they were still hard at work. I always worked hard and was very conscientious but wondered if they thought I was not pulling my weight as I was a ‘manager’ and paid more. So not doing well anywhere. And as for sorting our holiday cover. I made my elderly mother walk miles from the bus stop once a week to cook for, clean up after and generally give my children a sense of relaxed family life that they weren’t really experiencing in term time!
As soon as I saw an advert for mature London-based graduates to move into teaching through the GTP programme I thought how interesting it would be to understand from the inside what my children’s life at school was like. It was definitely a link I thought was missing. We didn’t have much time to discuss school on the way home from the child minders!
The impact on my family life was ENORMOUS! I ended up doing my GTP at my children’s actual school.
From a professional point of view, I was glad I’d had 20 odd years of work before I became a teacher which included conferences, team work, proposal-writing, presentations and travel plus nights out with different colleagues, new friendships, etc, because teaching in a small primary school doesn’t give you much chance to meet lots of people or have a great social life when you’re young or a woman. It was obviously not an issue for me but I feel it could be for my colleagues who’ve gone straight into teaching
Former freelance musician and co-director of a Music agency
"The world needs good teachers with life experience, I did it and it gave me a new career and tons of transferable skills.
There are many routes into teaching and it does not have to be in schools as post compulsory education (F.E.) qualifications and PGCEs exist and can often be transferred into schools later anyway. Do it".
if you want to find out more about ways to retrain as a teacher you'll find some information here at Nowteach