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Entering teachings later in life

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by RichardD77, Jul 14, 2020.

  1. RichardD77

    RichardD77 New commenter


    I’m looking for some view points. I was made redundant from work in March, due to Covid-19. My role was a highly paid and high pressure senior executive job in the airline restaurant industry. The pandemic has made me re-evaluate what is important in life, and I’m intending to finish my degree at the OU in English Lit and Language, full time and then embark on a PGCE, after which I would like to teach English at GCSE and A Level. After which I’ll be 47.

    I’m healthy, with bags of energy, extremely organised and have always wanted to teach, but life took me in a different direction. I’ve got teacher friends who are largely positive about the profession, and I’m not in it for the money! I want to take stable career with more meaning. I’m under no misconceptions that it will be easy, but I feel my real life experience will help.

    I’m based in Sussex and ideallywould like to work there- will schools employ me? I intend to do all I can whilst studying to get classroom experience to prepare me!

    Any thoughts?
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Which part of your background makes you worry you won't be employable?

    I'm OU alumni - my PGCE course tutor told me she highly valued that experience, and several others have said the same to me since, including someone who interviewed me last week for a teaching job. Your experience with the OU demonstrates so many skills that are useful for teaching, including organisation and time management - it will also serve you well during the PGCE, because you'll be working during the day, and also doing school or uni work at night.

    As for your age, it doesn't matter, because you'll be placed on the same payscale as younger people. I was 35 when I did my PGCE; I think the oldest person on my course was mid-40s; my first placement mentor had been in his 50s when he started teaching. Of course, there are schools that will prefer pliable 22 year olds, but you're better off out of those sort of schools anyway!
    agathamorse, VickyCat and Googler like this.
  3. CocoaChannel

    CocoaChannel New commenter

    I’m about to do it at 50. There are pros and cons I guess. You’ll have the life skills and know how to manage people from your previous career. I don’t mind admitting on here, though, that my science brain is slower now than my uni days. It’ll take me that bit longer to acquire new skills. There’ll no doubt be a hint of ageism especially in areas such as IT skills which I’ve noticed young graduates in my previous career have in droves. It’s also been drummed into me that a teacher’s subject knowledge must be top notch, and that’s my number one preparation priority for this coming year. I’m probably putting pressure on myself, but I feel as an older trainee, I’ll need to be very good indeed.
    agathamorse and Sona5 like this.
  4. diddydave

    diddydave Lead commenter

    You are quite likely to be employable, you will have the gravitas of age and wordly experience without the price tag of someone who has been working their way through the pay scales.
    agathamorse and Googler like this.
  5. inkymark

    inkymark New commenter

    I was 53 when I started training as a teacher and, at the super young age of 54, I have just started an NQT role at a new school (i.e., not one of my placement schools). Definitely not too late - go for it!!!
    agathamorse and Googler like this.
  6. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Psh. You'll be 47? A third of my cohort will be mature students. And they all get jobs just as much as their younger counterparts. Don't even think about it as a variable of risk. It's an asset. Having age, work and life experience is an asset for coming into teaching. Welcome to the profession.
    agathamorse, Googler and Lucy2711 like this.
  7. garyamos71

    garyamos71 New commenter

    I am 48 and just about to apply for PGCE part-time at my nearest college. I am also an OU graduate (without honours) and the college knows this.
    We will never know if we never try! Go for it sir, and good luck!
    agathamorse and Googler like this.
  8. RichardD77

    RichardD77 New commenter

    Thank you, and to others who have replied, very encouraging, and good reassurance.
    agathamorse, Googler and CocoaChannel like this.
  9. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Before you embark on your PGCE try and get some school experience or observation at a local school. Keep your eyes open and get the teachers take on the profession before you commit yourself. Just make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for. If you're basing a teaching career on your own experience from 30 years ago, things have moved on in terms of accountability and the expectations placed on you. Perhaps less than half your working week will now be spent in a classroom actually teaching. If you decide to go ahead with it then I hope it works out well for you but make sure you are prepared for the workload and stress that a modern teaching career involves.
  10. CocoaChannel

    CocoaChannel New commenter

    Good advice about observing lessons. Schools offer, in normal times, school experience days where you can spend half a day or so observing classes based loosely on your choice of subject. I was extremely fortunate to do this in March of this year just before the world went bonkers. I’m sure schools will start to offer this experience next year.

    Another benefit of observing lessons is you can mention this on your application statement. I found this surprisingly tricky to write even though I’d worked in language teaching in the past. I took copious notes during the observations, and this proved very useful.

    I’m a mature candidate with an engineering background, but I’m not making any bones about going in as a novice. Am I nervous? Oh yes
    agathamorse and MathMan1 like this.
  11. Googler

    Googler New commenter

    Behaviour management strategies are an area you need to be well read on as well as listening to your teacher friends; positive and negative. Good luck.
    agathamorse and Shedman like this.
  12. Sona5

    Sona5 New commenter

    Well done....I am taking a plunge at the same age....you are not alone...we have a lot to offer....my current school values my skills...
    agathamorse, Shedman and CocoaChannel like this.
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    Lots of schools in my experience are incredibly ageist. Getting that nqt year under your belt may prove tough too.

    I’d open your net wider and not assume you will get a job straight away as your younger competitors may do. Perhaps look to private tutoring and online tutoring or the more challenging and failing schools in the event of little take up.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
  14. CocoaChannel

    CocoaChannel New commenter

    Tough as in tough to do or tough to secure a job after the PGCE year?
  15. install

    install Star commenter

    Tough to secure a permanent job in a UK secondary school imho.
  16. rolls

    rolls Occasional commenter

    I have seen lots of people qualify and get jobs in their fifties. We will always need English teachers and a wave of staff are approaching retirement. Don’t think you will have any problem at all.
  17. zetafunction

    zetafunction New commenter

    Be very very careful of the path you are taken! as you will be faced different challenges and obstacles beyond your control and soon you find yourself demeaned and shattered by kids and colleagues alike who don't give two hoots about anything and finding yourself backed against the wall in a no win situation with drastic consequences for your physical and mental health,( I hope, I am wrong, and I hope you are different and made up of different stuff other than flesh and blood, and will be a shining example to prove all those teachers, who have reached breaking point, with their tails between their legs, with their emotional, physical health in tatters, before you wrong). I have posted this somewhere else but below encapsulate the teaching experience of every teacher I have come across, including my own; Good luck and wish you all the success......Now imagine; you are in front of a group of year 11s , they don't want to learn anything, everything is a joke for them, their predicted grades says, that Johnny is a A* student, while Johnny exhibits tendencies of a Psycho and lacks the basic skills that enables him to survive the afternoon, let alone learning, you see that he is unable to chew and walk at the same time, yet you are tasked to get him through his exams and get them those god-damn predicted grades come sunshine or rain! of course he is not going to get those grades, as all the data about him were cooked when he left the primary, so that his primary school can claim that they have made tremendous amount of progress with Johnny despite his difficulties!!!! while you, that is the secondary school, ends up holding the bag and it is going to hit the fan at any moment (progress checks, exam results, as Johnny is embarking in a journey of rewinding evolution, he is devolving in fact, the skills he has been taught when a wee person, like manners, common decency, are now replaced by expletives and attitude of entitlement as on paper Johnny is a genius), you and the school know all of that yet when the blame games start, guess who is going to carry the can???? you are right, the teacher, the poor person who suffered the most, as a sitting duck, ready to be blamed as both the kid and the system ( line managers, SLT etc) are beyond reproach..
    Now times the above by 300 pupils, to use a flight analogy, it will be a crash on the side of the mountain with the word F**** recorded in the recovered blackbox, or a more apt expression will be FUBAR.

    If I see my younger self, full of dreams and aspirations and full of energy to dedicate a life time in providing education and a ways out through it for the future generation, I will stop myself from proceeding.

    I have never have been in a more demoralising, thankless and soul destroying profession, I am very sad to admit it to myself, " never under estimate the power of self delusion" but to be honest, I am heartbroken about my choice, albeit with very good intentions, about the paths I have taken, about what it could have been, about the road not travelled.

    I sit in the staffroom and look around all I see is broken spirits, defeated individuals, just waiting to get to retirement with their pride and faculties intact, I am one of them , although I deceive myself in thinking that I am just an observer, it is very hard to look at all those, including my own, shattered dreams and broken spirits, like soldiers in battle field blown apart their limbs thorn off, the soldiers will get a prosthetic but there is nothing worst then a broken spirit, there is no prosthetic for it , so I will stop my younger self to ever embarking on such a course.

    Of course you make your own decision, but history teaches us if we don't learn from it, we are condemned to repeat it! Teaching slowly traps the teacher, in terms of pay progression, more financial responsibility, guilt etc etc , right now at the start of one’s career, those traps are just that, traps, avoid them, run from them, life is too short and precious to be wasted, I am not saying teaching is not a great profession, it is, but our first duty should be to ourselves, to help ourselves, then only then we are able to offer that help to others. I have through my long career ( still in the trap) spoken with hundreds of teachers, the combined teaching life of may be over a century of teaching, and without exception I have been informed of the above, they cannot wait till the time comes for them to retire, that includes me too, life is too short, in the time scale of eternity, we are this little spark that is flying from the anvil of creation through the darkness and soon will hit the ground and fizzle out, choose carefully how you are going to use the rest of that brief flight to nothingness and oblivion!!!!
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
    geordiepetal, agathamorse and Shedman like this.
  18. zetafunction

    zetafunction New commenter

    Sorry for disappointing you but your " real life experience" is not going to cut it in schools, faced with the irrationality of the kids and the system ( Gove wanted more than half of the schools to be above average, a mathematically impossible task!!!!, but all and everyone was whipped to get those grades, Gavin Williamson, says that all the rules that applies in public to keep them safe from corona virus is not applicable in school, what sort of sick minded individual are these, and we are expected to follow them and pay with our lives!!!). Please go and observe (really observe),if what is happening in schools are real, then " your real life experience" must be unreal, they cannot both be right, they are mutually exclusive.
    geordiepetal and Shedman like this.
  19. CocoaChannel

    CocoaChannel New commenter

    I’m sure there’s no smoke without fire in your posts, but a career changer will most probably write similar or worse for their previous career. If you’ve spent decades as a teacher and feel that way, that’s extremely unfortunate.
    agathamorse likes this.
  20. zetafunction

    zetafunction New commenter

    I wish you all the success in the world, and I hope I am wrong! The ideas expressed are not just mine but of every teacher I have spoken or come across to. Good luck and all the very best.
    CocoaChannel likes this.

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