Plan to retrain retirees to become teachers

David Cameron is considering a plan from a group of MPs that will encourage pensioners to come out of retirement and train as teachers.

The ‘Teach Seniors’ proposal is the brainchild of the Conservative 2020 Group which includes Michael Gove and some of the Prime Minister’s closest allies. Were it to become government policy, it would dramatically change the profile of a typical teacher – currently a third of teachers are under 30, the Independent reports.

Teach Seniors would be based on the Teach First programme, which has seen high-flying graduates heading into the classroom. Recent retirees, especially those who worked in sciences and engineering, would take an intensive course to retrain as teachers.

Reactions to the scheme have been mixed. Training teachers is expensive and older teachers would have a shorter potential career. The NUT’s Christine Blower described it as “blatantly impractical”.

Concerns have been raised about whether pensioners will be able to cope with the physical and mental challenges of teaching. The shift in classroom culture, with the rise of social media and mobile technology among students, could also be a problem. James Williams, a lecturer in science education, fears it could be disorientating for trainees entering the classroom for the first time since they were pupils: “Kids can seem like foreigners, the language is different, their priorities are different,” he said.

On the other hand, age can bring gravitas and wisdom, according to 65 year-old Maria Warren who teaches secondary physics. “There’s a respect for older people,” she said. “Pupils listen to you in a way they might not otherwise.”

Should pensioners retrain as teachers? Share your views with the Eteach community!

33 thoughts on “Plan to retrain retirees to become teachers

  1. Encouraging retired people to become teachers is an absolutely mad. I became a teacher at the age of 50 and now at 61 I am totally exhausted. Teaching is a very hard and stressful job and the increasing requirements placed on teachers make it even more stressful. I see my much younger colleagues exhausted and I have had to throw in the towel after having to take many days sick leave because I simply could not cope any more. To be a teacher under the conditions that exist currently in the UK requires the stamina and energy of a younger adult.

  2. Good luck to those pensioners who wants to do it! Lots of teachers want to get out by the age of 50 because of the stress and low pay. I love teaching but I hate the condition.

  3. In my experience pupils do not automatically respect the elderly. The job requires energy and expertise. As I near my 60th birthday I know it’s getting harder to keep up the energy levels. I am already wondering how I’m going to keep going until I’m 66. This is just another one of those daft schemes that are there to try to cover up the fact that more and more teachers are leaving the profession – some after only a few years. The government needs to address the issues of workload and raise the respect for teachers across the board. Constant knocking the profession, including not listening to legitimate concerns, undermine the value placed on teachers. There isn’t one teacher I know that would recommend their friends or family to enter the profession now! What a sad thing that is but really it is at the heart of why education is in such dire need of good quality teachers.

  4. Why not make any Tory MP who loses his or her seat in 2015 join the teaching profession at the correct point on the scale and teach for five years, Ofsted results permitting!!! It would be Cameron’s Big Society in Action.

  5. Why doesn’t the government come to their senses and realise that – instead of making older people work until they drop – that if they allow people to retire at a reasonable age – there should be more jobs for younger people to have!!! We older ones can then do extra curricular voluntary work – if we wish (and I plan to do )

  6. Well – another hair-brained idea of this government. I retired from teaching 2 years ago- completely exhausted! I do not know anyone of my age that would even consider going into teaching – certainly not anyone who has had links with any teachers. The work load is ridiculous and even though I loved my years in the profession I would not encourage any pensioner to go into it.

  7. As a retired teacher in my 60s I would not recommend anybody of that age to enter the profession as so much energy is needed.

  8. I believe that age has little to do with teaching as long as a teacher enjoys good health. I’m nearing my 60th birthday and still winning the respect and great love of my students. Teaching is a talent, the “good teachers” are those who have it and the “bad teachers ” are those who don’t.

  9. It would take a strong brand of retired person to train to teach now, and a school populated with highly motivated and well-behaved students for them to teach. As someone on the point of retiring at 60, I think this is yet another example of how out of touch with reality politicians -if that’s what the members of the Conservative 2020 group are – have become. I taught some years ago in a school in South London where no teacher was over 50. The stress levels can be very high. I know that even with my long experience I would not last long in that school at my age.

  10. Another example of unnecessary spending. As highlighted in the text they have a very short life span as a teacher. I am 27 and about to start a PGCE, do I get the £14,000 salary for completing an intense teaching course? No, I have to spend £9,000 for the privilege. Also I don’t need to be encouraged to complete this course, I am doing it as I want to build a career in education.

  11. I agree with those who cannot see this working.
    Teaching in a relatively good school, the pressures of performing in the classroom, for the exams and for management have made the job increasingly hard.
    Going down to 0.6 timetable has helped me prepare for retirement at 60. Even in that timetable I end up working for at least as many hours as most do in a full time job.
    Someone could embark on this course and find the new life a little too much… is it a plan to reduce the pensioner population?
    It’s time politicians took a reality check…

  12. Ha ha ha….. this is sooooooo stupid. Try keeping the teachers you got…… what a muppet…….

  13. What an absolute joke ! This current Government really are scraping the barrel. I do hope all Unions strongly oppose this as it is just another gimmick to undermine the profession! Glad I’m now retired.

  14. Maybe retired politicians could have a go at teaching ? It would certainly teach them a thing or two at how successive meddling politicians have made teaching more and more difficult and stressful !
    Then, they might be able to teach the younger breed in Parliament to be mote cognizant of the real needs of teachers and students and not heap onto us more damn fool follies and bureaucratic cul-de-sacs !

  15. As someone who left teaching at 57, I say someone should do the Maths! The average age of teachers being 30 says something – that the average has been skewed that way by teachers 50+ leaving teaching in droves. I became a teacher in my forties – after 30+ years experience in other occupations. I joined the profession with attitudes that included ‘Why should teachers have long holidays when other jobs are equally stressful’? With the poor leadership of schools, my views quickly changed. No other professionals spend many hours of their own time in menial work – unable to relax on evenings and week-ends while inputting data, copying and pasting from the required over-detailed recording in lesson plans, laminating and cutting out resources. The teaching has become second place to the paperwork. My experience elsewhere ensured experience of time off in lieu, far in excess of school holidays and half term, whenever the long hours that teachers do all the time had to be worked.

    The basic weakness in primary schools is of poor managers (headteachers) seeing teachers’ time as ‘free’. ‘Teaching assistants however, have to be paid – so why not use them for full class cover.’ Crazy management in primary schools was all I saw in my 10 year teaching stint. In my fifties, I’d had enough!

  16. I taught mathematics for 25 years, and took early retirement on health grounds at 50. I know there is no way I could go back into the classroom now (aged 65). Maybe the politicians should have a go at teaching – not just for a week or two, but at least 6 months in a challenging school.

  17. Some very interesting comments and I agree that the sums do not add up. I have had a career of 33 years in the classroom and just recently retired as I wished to do something else with my life. As a middle manager in a school I felt I was constantly being asked to complete statistics rather than comment and deal with individuals who were underachieving. I enjoyed having a young and lively team of teachers who were all well trained but then I believe I was and would always keep up to date with initiatives. I agree with the energy levels needed in teaching but there is so much extra that doesn’t help and takes away from a work life balance. Schools also did not seem to like part timers as I job shared for some years when my children were young. Some ‘ pensioners’ are relatively young and might like to contribute to raising educational standards but would find full time work as a teacher not just demanding but with many aspects of the job challenging because there are such unwise strategies often put in place. Would wisdom and experience be listened to? I don’t think so as many experienced teachers in their 50 s leave the profession as promotion prospects to more senior levels are often limited. Has there been a survey of how many teachers in their 50s are not considered for management jobs? If the education profession needs wisdom and experience then stress and burn out at many different ages needs to be addressed. I fear for the young teachers and how many will manage when having to be both parents and teachers. Maybe I could consider a return to the classroom for a short maternity leave or two!

  18. As some, if not most schools seem to have an ageist attitude, so older teachers are viewed as out of touch – lacking in energy – lacking in drive – basically ga ga – this idea is even more nonsensical than anything yet to emerge. So – train ‘inspirational / gifted’ teenagers to be teachers and now employ pensioners. On which planet, it certainly isn’t this one, does Michael Gove live?

  19. Is it 1st April? The head at one local academy is actively trying to push out older teachers as he feels they do not have the stamina for the job. He wants new teachers, full of energy and idealism. Don’t apply here if you are over 50, let alone retired!

  20. Good luck to them! I am a young, fit 59 year old and I come home shattered at the end of a school day to face yet more work before I crawl into my sleepless bed. Can’t imagine doing it beyond 60 .

  21. You shouldn’t take this seriously.

    It’s all part of the endless drive to reduce your self-respect and make the public think less of us; after all, it’s an easy job for second-rate losers isn’t it?

    The campaign goes on – slaughtered pensions, spotty losers coming into the classroom from ‘Teach First’ and being disastrously bad, academisation to break union power, encouragement of nasty punitive management policies, covert cutting of school budgets etc

    It ain’t going to get any better – I was a successful and well paid teacher and I’m now retired at 51 because I was had other choices – would you remain working in this revolting job if you had them too?

  22. An interesting idea, but as ex primary teacher who is struggling to locate courses to get my subject knowledge up to date and re-enter primary teaching where are these trainers/courses going ti come from and be held? Why not offer training to those below retirement age that would like to come back into the profession first?

  23. A lot depends on what one plans to teach…Pensioners,with professional careers in back of them, might find teaching at a first school on up rather challenging.

    The first thing that comes to mind for retired old pros is the FE sector.You may find your skill and knowledge in great demand. The heartbreak I found is with schools of so-called higher education who recruit you to teach courses, yet courses their own administrative incompetence fail to mount.

    True story: Two London higher ed schools, in a nation where people plan their holidays up to a year in advance, waited until three weeks before the classes were to begin to start promoting them. In the end they all were cancelled and I was left with a bitter feeling about UK schools and treatment of senior people trying to teach.

  24. The entire system needs a radical overhaul from the foundations up. These bandaid solutions are just silly. Everything should be looked at, including:
    – the age at which children start school
    – whether grouping children according to age is really the most effective system
    – other ways of providing learning aside beyond the traditional model of class+classroom teacher
    – curriculum design
    – effective discipline techniques
    – work/life balance
    – teacher’s pay

  25. My last teaching job was in 2008. I was a HoD in a department which got great results. I resigned in protest at cuts which were being made to my subject (RE) ending all exam entry and providing RE for KS3 only, once a fortnight – as part of a money-saving strategy.
    After Mr Gove and the Ebacc arrived RE was undermined in schools across the country. What happened illegaly and due to our exceptional problems in my school has now become widespread. Many schools cover RE provision with reluctant non-specialists and OFSTED reports that it is in often poorly taught – just at a time when it has never been more important to have strong RE departments staffed by subject specialists, able to help our young people better understand the world and its problems and counter the creeping xenophobia that the UKIP reflects.
    Because of these political influences I have not been surprised that it is difficult to get a job in RE. I maintain my connection with my subject by giving (free) online advice and support and my (TES) resources, created since 2009, have been viewed over 600,000 times – but I still can’t get a teaching position.
    My second subject is art and I have applied to literally hundreds of jobs in RE, Art and anything else related to education since then. All I could get was some part time zero-hour support work in a local College. I am not alone.

    There are thousands of experienced teachers aged over 50 like myself who can not get teaching work. I guess this is due to endemic ageism and a reluctance to employ anyone experienced (ie expensive) and knowledgeable (ie not as easy to bully) as younger, less experienced staff.
    Teaching is very demanding of time and energy and I doubt if many retired people from other successful careers would cope even if they wished to – but by all means let them try. I think part-time and job-share might suit such staff best. There may be some who would like to give this kind of service so why not give them a chance.
    However a faster and surer route to bring older and more experienced teachers into our classrooms would be to employ teachers such as myself who have a proven wealth of knowledge and experience to offer.

  26. As things stand, as a qualified teacher after turning 50 I had trouble finding a job in UK. Now that I am over 60, it is impossible. One reason is that people are made deputies and heads in their thirties, and then the same group of managers circulate around schools until they retire with a giant pension. They will not hire someone older than themselves, because an older person will see through the verbiage and BS and dent their self-presentation as wise “leaders”. If existing qualified teachers can’t get jobs, how will retired unqualified people fare? Can I apply for (re)training through Teach First? Should there be a Teach Last?

  27. All I can say is good luck to any pensioner who gets a job in an academy – as I see it they want a young work force because they are cheaper and are currently forcing many older staff out of the profession!

  28. And just how are head teachers going to square the circle? As a chemistry teacher over 50, I couldn’t get a job because the fresh graduate was at least 10k pa cheaper. I now work in the Middle East, where my job IS to TEACH and not to jump through the hoops of the latest daft initiative. Having successfully taught chemistry to advanced level for thirty years, do I really need a lesson plan to prove to an Ofsted inspector that I can teach? Accept responsibility for the failure of the child who does no work?

    MADNESS Mr. Gove.

    Return to the UK? I don’t think so. Hell will have to freeze over first.

    A happier happy who wished he had done this twenty years ago!

  29. I am a 60 year old teacher, loving the subject and challenging the minds of teenagers. They are fun, lively and great to be with but….. I am no longer allowed to teach or know them as people. It’s all about the data. Data analysis, data input, data evaluation. I am techno-literate and enjoy changes and challenges. I don’t enjoy spending hours of my week on data. I want to be allowed to teCh my subject properly.

  30. As a 55 yr old with 10yrs as a TA including BDA credits I the took QTS. I am still working as a TA as I can not find an NQT post. Three agencies have told me that my CV is fantastic until the section on qualifications. I took ‘O’ levels in 1975! They don’t need your birth date to work out your age. Schools would prefer a 23yr old with only PGCE classroom expirence. How does Grove think that these older people are going to find places?

  31. Complete and utter nonsense. The teaching profession is one of long hours and stress. It is one of the lowest paid professions. To say that 65 year olds and older are to come into this environment is mad. I’m sure some could do it, but I would think the vast majority wouldn’t last a year or two.

  32. So, no political motivation on this website, then…

    Many people who retire early have plenty of energy. A lot of them invest it in voluntary work, often with children. If they have the skills, talent and intellect to achieve in their realm of work, the chances are they will be able to do so in teaching, too. Plenty of 50-somethings are quite capable of hard graft, believe it or not, and teachers who think that their job is the hardest in the world need to get some perspective!

    If Labour had come up with the idea, I wonder whether it would have received quite as much criticism from the profession?

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