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.”
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