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Teaching at 60 plus

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by MEN, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. MEN

    MEN New commenter


    I'm 60, have recently completed a languages degree and would like to go into teaching - a very late starter, I know!

    Earlier in my life I taught EFL in France, Italy and London and loved it. I have also been sub-teaching in a secondary school for the past 8 months, although not qualified, and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, it has also made me very conscious of my lack of skills and experience (especially in classroom management). I am wondering if I should attempt a PGCE at this stage. What are the chances of being accepted on the course? Is funding available? And what of the chances of finding work afterwards?

    I have also been contacted several times by the organisation Get into Teaching which seems to offer various routes into the profession but I am unsure about the qualifications they offer.

    If you have any advice for me, I'd love to hear from you. Many thanks.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    MY PGCE mentor from my first placement was in his 60s, and had only been teaching a couple of years. He'd had a very high profile career before teaching (Googling his name finds pictures of him shaking hands with important people), so maybe that helped him secure a place on a (now defunct) GTP course, but regardless of his connections he is proof that it is possible to achieve a teaching qualification later in life.

    I would say though, be very careful about where you choose to train - universities appear to have more contacts in schools, a wider net, and more sympathy/ability to select an appropriate school for you; School Direct, on the other hand, may suffer from lack of contacts, which could result in you being placed in very 'rough' schools, which are not ideal if you are already sensitive about behaviour management.

    There will be plenty of unis who look favourably on your work and life history, as well as your degree. MFL jobs will be more in demand in future, due to the EBACC (a government measurement of schools, which encourages MFL subject selection at GCSE). As for finance, MFL jobs can attach a fantastic bursary (depending on your degree classification), and I don't think your age will limit your ability to apply for funding - look at the student finance website though.

    Conclusion: I would suggest a PGCE through a university, leading to QTS (qualified teacher status).

    Spend some time in schools to make sure you are happy with your career choice, different types of schools that is. Contact unis and speak to them about requirements.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. MEN

    MEN New commenter

    Thank you so much blueskydreaming for all this very useful information. Lots to follow up on. I will start investigating my options straightaway. Thanks again
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    You're welcome! Come back and post if you have more questions :)
  5. Mazod

    Mazod Occasional commenter

    I think in many ways it is exciting that the profession is attracting someone with your life experience and that can only be a good thing.

    I do have one worry sadly and that is physical fitness. You may be exceptionally fit for 60 in which case, great! However, your student and NQT years are very demanding physically as well as intellectually and emotionally and you need to be ready for that. My dad retired from teaching last year at 60. He was much loved by his pupils (any I ever meet tell me how great he is!) but it was all just too much for him physically and he didn't have the energy anymore. It might not apply to you, just something to consider
    Lara mfl 05 and pepper5 like this.
  6. minnie me

    minnie me Lead commenter

    There is no substitute for stamina
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I very much agree with blueskydreaming about choosing your training provider carefully to try to ensure you go to decent schools. The last thing you want is to wind up in some school on a placement where the students are completely out of control and your life is torment.
  8. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    When I left my last job at Christmas, I remember thinking how difficult it was telling the staff apart from the Sixth Formers. The average age of the teachers (without me) must have been about 24.

    Ring up or write to the Head in the academy closest to you with the worst reputation, lowest ranking in the league tables, in Special Measures or with rubbish A - C* stats and ask if you can go in and observe lessons prior to doing a PGCE (You have to do a couple of weeks anyway before applying). After a week in one of these hell-holes, you'll know if you really really really want to do this to yourself.

    I think that you are seriously underestimating the amount of stamina needed to do this job, as others have said. I'm sure there are exceptional 60 year olds but can you handle intense 10-12 hour days 7 days a week, feral kids ensuring you teach diddley squat from one lesson to the next, constant criticism and performance management, much reduced contact with friends and family for long periods of time, being on a constant exhaustion-recovery cycle and all for a few grand a month? There is lots of research to show teaching in the UK is one of the most strsssful jobs going. Those teaching beyond their 50s are far more likely to die of a heart attack.

    My advice would be to have a look by all means but consider voluntary work abroad or VSO. Far less strsssful and so much more rewarding. Your golden years are far more valuable to a developing country.
    pepper5 and dleaf12 like this.
  9. MrMedia

    MrMedia Lead commenter

    We do sometimes get people of this age on the course. Retention is an issue alas. They are fine usually, but it can be challenging. Having a 25 year old mentor you can be difficult. People have expectations and they are usually wrong. You can be often offered less support being experienced when you need more support due to caree changing.
    The main reason we lose older trainees is because they simply don't need the career as much as a 23 year old and when the grim 70 hour week kicks in along with mean staff, schools with poor leadership and tough classes our older trainees say - I don't HAVE to put up with it. I'm independently financially able to not put up with it. Sooooo. Good bye. And away they go.
  10. saluki

    saluki Senior commenter

    O.K. I agree with all of the above points. You're not too old, stamina is a problem, you have got a lot of experience which you can bring to the job, you will be astounded by the behavior of the youth of today, you probably don't need the money, you probably don't need the hassle, 24 year old mentors will lack your life experience which you may find frustrating, you want to contribute to society.
    Suggestion: try FE. You can do a part time DTTLS which is less onerous than a PGCE. After qualifying you can probably get part time or sessional teaching thus maintaining your work life balance. I'm not sure how much demand there is for MFL. There may be some ESOL jobs but the government has cut back on funding. Loads of Functional Skills Maths and English jobs available. Alternatively, go for a learning support job - where you will have the satisfaction of teaching without the hassle. Many LSAs go on to train as teachers.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Whilst I don't mind the job, and I am fairly realistic as to what other jobs are like, I wonder really what the point is at 60 (I am in my early thirties). If you were just a few years younger I would say, go for it. 60 though means at least 62 by the time you have trained, 63 by the end of probation...

    Training is laborious and time consuming. In order to 'bed in' at a school takes a few years also, as does perfecting your practice. By then you are going to be in your mid sixties. Do you want to be doing it then? I hate to say this, but as a HoD i am not sure many would rush to employ someone of that age as they would deem it such a short term appointment. Most teachers of your generation are winding down or have retired by that age.

    Whilst i feel a lot of the pressure of the job is reduced when deep down you know you don't have to be there, I wonder why someone would want to be starting afresh at such a late stage of their working life. I don't think teaching is a vocational job, it is a hard profession.

    If money is no object, I would look at FE or jobs like language assistants, maybe in the private sector. I am sure you have a lot to give and are still young enough to work. I feel this route may be something you can start ASAP and brings the benefits of teaching without the issues.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  12. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I can totally understand this.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    I worked in business, then moved overseas and started teaching adults. I returned to the UK and worked in a secondary school for a few years and hated it. The main reason I hated it was the behaviour and it wasn't a bad school. I would strongly suggest you do as someone else has suggested, and contact a school and observe some classes, or walk along the corridor during break or stand at the bus stop when the school is emptying out.

    You say you enjoyed EFL when you were younger and found it fun. There's no comparison really between that and teaching in school. EFL courses are usually designed to be fun, are short term, are full of people who want to be there etc etc. You could look at doing that again - a useful website is tefl.com.

    Others have mentioned FE, and another possibility is looking at the Open University, they sometimes have Associate Lecturer vacancies in MFL. They can be found at open.ac.uk.
    Rozario123 and pepper5 like this.
  14. dleaf12

    dleaf12 Occasional commenter

    You mentioned sub-teaching for 8 months in secondary and enjoying it - that is the best part of the job - the bit with the kids in it.

    As a qualified teacher however there will be a lot more on your shoulders - recording and monitoring progress, deciding when and how to intervene with pupils who don't make the right progress, planning schemes of work, report writing, communicating with parents, parents evenings, lesson planning, resource preparation, MARKING, you may be expected to run a club or make some other contribution to the wider school community. All of which is policed by a system of scrutiny - "drop-ins" by SLT followed by "advice" on how to do it better - lesson observations - target grades that are plucked out of thin air and then used to calculate your residual, upon which depends your pay increment. In short you will be buried alive in busy-busy work which will suck up all of your time. Its not about age - I'm 62 and still going strong, but there really is NO work-life balance which is why I've decided to leave this July.

    You asked for advice - the best I can give is don't do it. The most constructive I can give is, before you commit serious time and possibly money to this, make really really sure you have seen ALL of the job in action.
    Shedman, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    It's so difficult to get an understanding of the constant weight and drain of unreasonable accountability, expectation and professional frustrating isn't it? Very difficult to see it until you're in it.
    pepper5, dleaf12 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  16. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    It is virtually impossible to appreciate the implications of being accountable for pupil progress until you are actually accountable for pupil progress.
    Shedman, pepper5 and dleaf12 like this.
  17. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

  18. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Lead commenter

    Schools must be crying out for 60+ year old teachers. You just never, ever see them. Ever! I wonder why?
    (In the last 4 years I have worked as a Supply Teacher in around 100 Primary schools).
    pepper5 likes this.
  19. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    I believe that this is due to the great success of recent government policy aimed at making the TPS sustainable.

    The goal, essentially, is to ensure that any teacher over 50 is:

    a) dead
    b) unable to continue to work in education (on the way to being (a) before pensionable age)

    This represents a rare success for government, most of whose policies quickly form into the shape of a chalice before being hastily palmed off on the next secretary of state for education ...
  20. Stillstayingjohnson

    Stillstayingjohnson Occasional commenter

    They are crying out for teachers who are 60+, but the thing is, they have found a way to turn every NQT into one! See aforementioned unreasonable accountability and expectation...
    schoolsout4summer likes this.

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