Nick Hamlyn, French teacher, 43: 'It is very good for the soul...'

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Mr Hamlyn, who has taught French at Mill Hill County High School in north London for a year, said: "I am enjoying it enormously. It is hugely satisfying to see pupils move forward. Being rooted in a school community is very good for the soul. "The money is not as good as in banking, but I never enjoyed banking very much. It was quite interesting for a year or two - the world revolves around money and it's useful to know how it works - but after that it's just numbers."

Mr Hamlyn believes the rise in trainees aged over 30 is not surprising, arguing that at this age many people question the career decisions they made aged 21.

"In your thirties you begin to realise that your life is no longer all in front of you," he said. "A lot of people end up in jobs after university then 10 or 15 years later they find themselves still there and start to question whether that's a good thing."

He believes he is now a better teacher because of his years in business and questions if he would have been up to the job as a new graduate. "I would have found it very difficult straight out of university to stand up in front of a class of 17-year-olds. Now I have years of life experience I can bring to the classroom and this is only going to benefit my students."