Education Quandary: 'I do not want to see disgraced former bankers becoming teachers. Teaching now seems to command no respect'

Hilary Wilce
Saturday 15 February 2014 03:03

Hilary's advice

It's true that teaching has changed fundamentally since you were at school before the Second World War, and there are many things that would probably make your hair stand on end if you were visit a school today. You might find teachers wearing jeans, or teachers with tattoos and piercings, or teachers speaking with accents that would make you shudder, or gay teachers who are out and proud.

Times change, and schools change with them. One of the great changes in recent years has been the growing number of teachers coming into schools after pursuing another profession. In my experience, many of these teachers are thrilled to find a job that is challenging, collegiate, worthwhile and people-centred, and happily give it 100 per cent. They don't moan and whinge in the same way that life-time teachers sometimes do – they know how excruciating other jobs can be. Some who have come out of the City have been so good that they have won national awards for their teaching practice, and are often so high-energy that they launch new opportunities for pupils on top of their classroom duties.

So I, personally, will be delighted if more bankers and traders now become teachers, especially if they are able to bring some badly needed maths skills into schools – although that, of course, is a questionable assumption. Not all of them will be great at the job, but neither are all existing teachers.

Readers' advice

You are wrong that teaching used to be a respected profession. In my experience, it was exactly the opposite. When I left university in the 1960s, the university careers office would tell every hapless undergraduate who had failed to get into Shell or IBM or the civil service that they needn't worry because "there's always teaching". Back then, it was definitely the job of last resort.

Paul Robb, London SE18

My son has been a banker, so I know that there are plenty of people working in banks who have been quietly doing a good job and have merely fallen victim to circumstances outside their control. If they now want to think about teaching, I think we should welcome and encourage them. Schools are badly short of maths and science teachers, and maybe they can fill some gaps and bring some new blood to the profession.

Eliza Farren, Surrey

A banker becoming a teacher is simply going from one failed profession to another. Half of today's children leave school without proper qualifications. Many cannot read, write or add up, and their manners and self-discipline are non-existent. Bankers have got things very wrong, but so have teachers. Both professions, if you can call them that, have let down the people they should have been serving and failed to deliver what they have been paid to do. The only difference is that bankers have been paid more to fail than teachers.

Dennis Fenniman, East Sussex

Next Week's Quandary

My daughter is applying to university next year and aiming high. But her school, a specialist science college, does not seem to have spoken to students about the new A*-level grade at A-level, or done anything to prepare them for it. Surely this will handicap her chances? What should she do?

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous education quandaries are available to read online at, where they can be searched by topic.

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