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Retrain as Primary Teacher in my 40s

11 replies

LilyYenrav · 11/07/2023 07:33

Hi! Has anyone experience of going back to uni in their 40s to retrain as a primary teacher? I'd love to do it but I wonder if schools would welcome the life experience I have or prefer someone younger and fresh out of uni? It's a huge commitment and I'd like to research as much as possible. All feedback and advice would be much appreciated!

OP posts:
angstridden2 · 11/07/2023 07:55

I went back to uni and did a PGCE at 40. It was a very hard year and I had children at home. Taught for many years but as most teachers will now tell you, it became less enjoyable and eventually unbearable mostly down to workload and behaviour. I imagine you would be very employable even as a late entrant; you have experience in other areas and there’s a huge teacher shortage. Just be aware that for most it’s no longer the dream job.

CountTo10BeforeExploding · 11/07/2023 07:58

Teachers are leaving in droves. Think very carefully. I work in a school and see it first hand.

Moorlander · 11/07/2023 08:15

I trained in primary teaching in my mid forties which was hard but do-able. That was 7 years ago and I have just left the profession. I don't regret the career change overall because it has been a valuable experience and I've worked with fantastic colleagues but the negatives of the job had started to outweigh the many positives. I would definitely talk to as many teachers as you can before you head into it to make sure you have a realistic view of the profession. I think schools would be very happy to employ someone in their mid forties as they get a person with life experience on an ECT salary so I wouldn't worry about that side of it with the current recruitment and retention situation in schools.

CaptainMyCaptain · 11/07/2023 08:15

I'm afraid schools no longer value life experience. I was bullied out by a new Head Teacher almost half my age. He continued getting rid of all the older teachers and replaced them with younger, cheaper ones.

Teaching young children is a fantastic job, I loved it for years, but the system as it is now stinks.

Moorlander · 11/07/2023 08:22

@CaptainMyCaptain I'm really sorry that happened to you as it does to so many skilled teachers. It really does stink how undervalued you are. My husband can't believe how it gets harder to get a job the better and more experienced you are! I think it's the cheap they're after rather than the young! Sorry don't want to go off topic but I do think it's important that anyone embarking on a teaching career understands some of the negatives as well as the positives.

SpringIntoChaos · 11/07/2023 08:25

Primary teacher here...I'm 59 and will be retiring soon. I've been teaching for 30 years and, as someone has already pointed out, teachers are leaving in droves. There's a VERY good reason for this!

When I started teaching, I absolutely loved my job...truly! I couldn't ever imagine doing anything else. Every day was a blessing...the children were delightful, my colleagues were happy and fulfilled in their roles and our job was to teach. Of course we did other things too...and did so willingly as there was time to do so. I would get into school at 8.15 and would have finished all my jobs by 5 at the latest. I didn't have any work to do after school...everything was done in school. Very occasionally I might have paperwork to do, but this was at certain times of the year (report writing in the summer for example).

Fast forward to is a mess! Teaching is just a small part of what we do...probably the smallest part if I'm honest! Once the 'teaching' part of our day is done, we start the rest of our job...which takes just as, you teach for around 6 hours, then you have a similar amount of 'other shit' to do as an absolute expectation! It's exhausting and soul destroying. Nothing you do is good enough. As a minimum I'm now working 65 hours a week...but often much more than this. It is not a job that fits well with family life.

It has been declining over the past 15 years I'd say...but has accelerated exponentially in the past 3 years, to the point where it is no longer fit for purpose.

I will be retiring in April 2024 and honestly will not look back. I would NEVER recommend teaching as a career...which makes me very sad. I can't believe that the job I loved so passionately for so long, is now one that is destroying so many wonderful, caring individuals. But here we are!

Ovinnik · 11/07/2023 08:25

You need to get into a school or schools - experience what it's like, talk to teachers. Then you will be able to make a decision as to whether it is for you.

CaptainMyCaptain · 11/07/2023 08:35

Thank you @Moorlander I was approaching 60 so I claimed my Teacher's Pension and retired. It was 8 years ago and I was happy being a teacher until the last year.

I think a teacher in their 40s like the OP would be welcome, as a PP said, they would be cheap, but in their 50s not so much. Older teachers with experience in other careers will be less likely to put up with management bullshit which would not endear them to SLT either.

Rocknrollstar · 11/07/2023 09:11

If you decide to retrain look at Teach First or Schools Direct where you can train in the classroom. Teaching is very hard these days so phone a local school/s and ask to spend time in there. DS trained in his late 30s and was welcomed into his school but they do like to employ a lot of youngsters from Australia and South Africa who only do three years and go home.

Jubilee67 · 11/07/2023 09:11

I left an unrelated career after 25 years to retrain as a primary school teacher, at the age of 45. It was a hard year of training, but yes I believe my life experience did make me employable, and a good teacher. I loved my job, I was good at it and I was proud of my transition into teaching. However, I left this year at the age of 55, having done 10 years. I have no regrets about my career change, but the job had become untenable and just impossible to enjoy. I would add - I wasn't forced out by being "expensive", I was the oldest - but cheapest - teacher in school. My advice would be go get into schools, watch and feel the environments.

Zoda8 · 31/07/2023 18:33

If you can teach in Wales, my spidey sense tells me you might enjoy it more than England, as there are less fronted adverbials and expanded noun phrases, and more baking bread and playing quidditch. There is at least the hope of huge job satisfaction, but also many frustrations and pitfalls, both in terms of getting a job and of establishing a work life balance if you get one. Your happiness seems to depend on luck to some extent, based on the leadership team you end up with. The one think I would definitely recommend is to get as much experience volunteering as you can, as this gives a really good insight into classroom and school daily life.

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