Young professionals targeted to switch career and retrain as teachers in some of UK’s toughest schools

Lawyers, police staff and office workers are among those who will be encouraged to ditch their existing jobs

Young professionals are to be targeted to switch career and retrain as teachers in some of the UK’s toughest schools, as part of a major recruitment drive launching on 18 January. 

Lawyers, police staff and office workers are among those who will be encouraged to ditch their existing jobs for a life back in the classroom. 

Education charity Teach First is facing increased demand for staff from schools, particularly in priority subjects such as science and maths.

Schools in poor areas have been hardest hit by a worsening teacher recruitment crisis, the charity argues. Research has shown that only one in seven teachers would take a job in a more demanding school than their own. A survey of school leaders showed that 54 per cent in poor areas said the struggle to attract good teachers was a major barrier to improving pupils’ performance, compared with 33 per cent in more affluent areas. 

Teach First launched in 2002 to persuade high-flying graduates to teach for at least two years in inner-city schools. On 18 January it begins the nationwide recruitment campaign Change Career, Change Lives, with the aim to inspire more young professionals and career-changers to teach in low-income areas across England and Wales. 

Last year one in five of the Teach First cohort were experienced professionals who changed career to become teachers. The charity is now building on this to urge more young professionals who are uncertain about their careers to consider teaching.

James Westhead, Teach First executive director, said: “By bringing your tried-and-tested knowledge and skills to teaching, you can make a real difference to young people’s lives. There aren’t many careers where no two days are the same. In teaching you get to pass on your love of a subject, innovate and lead in your own classroom every day.” 

Joe Hull, 36, was a policeman for 12 years before switching to become an English teacher in 2013 through Teach First. He said: “When I left university it was a choice between joining the police and becoming a teacher. I became increasingly disillusioned with the police but by then I was married with two children and thought it would be impossible to retrain as a teacher as I couldn’t afford to do a PGCE and be without a salary for a year.”

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