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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 Established 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 Established commenter

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

    Mazod New 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
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. minnie me

    minnie me Lead commenter

    There is no substitute for stamina
    pepper5 likes this.
  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 Occasional 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.
  9. MrMedia

    MrMedia Senior 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.

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