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Retraining as a teacher after 50

24 November 2015 ( 11 February 2021 )

Have you considered retraining as a teacher? If you're thinking about a career change, teaching could benefit from your skills and experience.

Louise Hill is now Head of Art at Hastings High School in Burbage, having retrained as a teacher in later life
Louise Hill is now Head of Art at Hastings High School in Burbage, having retrained as a teacher in later life

A number of over 50s with established careers succeed in retraining as teachers every year – and making the switch to a career in teaching is more achievable than many think.

There are excellent teachers who’ve made the switch to teaching from many walks of life - the financial sector, research scientists, media and marketing, and IT.

Many of the best teachers are career changers and transfer valuable skills they’ve developed in their industry to the classroom.

Teaching provides a new challenge

Louise Hill is Head of Art at her school. Louise initially studied Fashion & Textiles at university, and began a career as a children’s wear designer.

Louise stopped work to have a family, but once her children reached school age she began looking for a fresh challenge. Louise retrained as a teacher and then worked her way up to become Head of Art at her school. She now enjoys the reliability and flexibility that teaching affords her, fitting her career around her family life.

Here, the National College for Teaching and Leadership address some common questions for over 50s thinking about getting into teaching:

Can teaching give me a flexible career and a good work/life balance? 

Teaching is a flexible career which offers the option to work part-time and can fit in well with family life. If you're keen to achieve a better work-life balance later on in your career, teaching can offer you more time to spend with family and friends. 

Teachers receive more annual leave than many people in other professions, which can provide the flexibility to fit around your personal life. 

If you have children, often the school or university holidays will match up with those of your children. The profession also offers job security, good career progression and autonomy.

Ever thought about changing careers in mid-life?

My previous career has been in a completely different field – will this experience count for anything in the classroom?  

Some of the best teachers entered the profession after pursuing careers in other fields, bringing with them a wealth of experience and expertise to inspire the next generation. 

There are excellent teachers who’ve transitioned into teaching from many walks of life - the financial sector, scientific research, media and marketing, and IT. You’ll be able to use real-life examples in the classroom to help bring your subject to life.

I want to teach a subject that doesn’t have anything to do with my previous career – is this possible? 

If you studied a subject to a high level while at school or university, you can take a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course, which can help you build up and refresh your knowledge of a certain subject, such as maths, physics or chemistry. These courses can last from eight weeks to 28 weeks, depending on whether you need a refresher or a complete crash course. They can be studied part time or full time.

SKE courses are fully funded – so you won’t have to pay any tuition fees – and you may be eligible for a training bursary to support you throughout the course.

Can you afford to become a mature student?

What about my finances whilst I train to teach? 

Substantial tax-free bursaries and scholarships of up to £26k for those who train to teach core academic subjects. Find out more here.

With three of more years’ work experience and a degree, you can apply for the employment-based School Direct (salaried) route. You will be employed by a school, earn a salary, and work towards qualified teacher status (QTS) all at the same time. Find out more here.   

To find out more about what life as a teacher is like, visit the Get into Teaching website or call the Get into Teaching Line on 0800 389 2500.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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