How teachers can break out of the classroom routine

Teachers in search of new pastures find they are well qualified for other things
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The Independent Online

More teachers than ever are disenchanted with their vocation and believe that the grass has to be greener elsewhere. Research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has found that two-thirds of teachers have considered leaving the profession. Happily, teaching skills are highly transferable to positions beyond the classroom and prized in sectors outside education

Former primary school teacher Paul Guinane found that sales skills came easily when he set up an ICT services company, Softegg, 18 months ago. As ICT coordinator for his school, his technical expertise was a given but it was his leadership and communication skills that have brought commercial success. Guinane now employs 19 consultants and earns 15 per cent more than his teacher's salary.

Perceived barriers to breaking out of teaching are surmountable, confirms another ex-teacher. Now communications manager with the National Association of Special Educational Needs, Sean Stockdale lists the skills that can propel teachers into new careers. "We can deal with a demanding workload and tight deadlines; we are proactive; we are great at face-to-face work and we are used to dealing with 'customers' – whether pupils or parents".

For teachers who are simply fed up with school and want to teach elsewhere, there are a number of options. Most hospitals employ teaching staff to ensure that school-age patients continue their education while on the ward, for example. Becoming a film location tutor is another glamorous choice with the prospect of exotic travel and hobnobbing with film crews and stars.

"I got a call about a job in Morocco to tutor a child performing in the Walt Disney film, Prince of Persia [released in May]. I flew to Casablanca the next morning," says Veronica Jones, a former secondary and primary school teacher, now registered with Location Tutors Nationwide agency.

The destination isn't always as enticing as the Sahara and the hours are generally long. There's a lot of hanging around and tutors have to grab time between filming and make-up to ensure their charges receive the statutory minimum hours of education.

It also helps not to mind being on your own, to like acting on your own initiative and be able to deal with over-zealous parents on set. Despite the makeshift nature of teaching on location, Jones loves her work. "I enjoy travelling and I'm always learning."

Childminding or nursery work could be another route out of the classroom. Denise Williams, a primary schoolteacher of 10 years, left teaching after her school in Worcester was amalgamated. Having witnessed acute behaviour problems, she decided she would be valuable at pre-school level and retrained as a childminder.

Childminding and nursery provision is highly regulated in the UK: Williams had to learn about the new baby curriculum, everyone in the house was checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, plus, she had to welcome Ofsted inspectors into her own home. The upside of this is: "I'm more in control of what I do, there's no travelling and I don't have to get up so early," she says.

Moving into a new environment is never an easy step and Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, recommends teachers conduct a thorough career audit before jumping ship. "The danger for teachers is that they're so fed up, they could end up fantasising about life on the other side."

School teaching: How to escape

Location tutor

Requires a chaperone's licence from your local authority. Pay: £110 – £150 a day, £180 with overnight allowance.

Safeguarding children officer

One of many possible jobs in children's services. Pay: £24,000 plus

Project manager

You need organisational and people skills plus sector knowledge. Pay: £18,000 – £40,000 plus

Hospital teacher

If you like the caring side of teaching. Pay: National teachers' pay scales


You'll need to do it on a big scale to make decent money. Pay: from £3.50 an hour per child


A part-time income booster, and there are permanent jobs Pay: £25,000 plus

Marketing executive

Let your communication skills shine. Pay: £20,000 – £35,000 plus


You need to be able to handle uncertainty and working on your own. Pay: however much you pay yourself

ICT support

For ICT coordinators and teachers. Pay: £20,000 – £35,000 plus

Education sales

Great for the big classroom performers. Pay: typically, £25,000 basic, plus that magic opportunity to earn