Advice please.Career change into teaching

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  • Advice please.Career change into teaching
  • HughStew

    I have been pondering a career change, and the idea of teaching is appealing. My subjects would be Maths and/or Physics. Although my degree was in Genetics, I went to university to read physical sciences, but got seduced by biochemistry and genetics. It’s all part of Natural Sciences at Cambridge so the switch was relatively easy, organisationally at least.

    At the moment, I’m away from home 4 days a week, and feel my job is socially useless (IT consultant for financial institutions). The impulse for the career change is to do something beneficial to society, to engage more with my community and to be more local in outlook and whereabouts. The salary change would need careful thought, and I probably wouldn’t move until my daughter is out of University in about 4 years.

    I had a chat with a neighbour, who retired from teaching a couple of years ago, but would be glad of views from current teachers in both state and private sectors.

    Also I’m 50 next year, have I left it too late?


    Teaching is bloody hard, lots of people train and find they cannot do it due to lacking something or other I cant describe, social skills, leadership etc. Many more drop out very quickly after. Its also very very hard work in terms of time commitment. As a physics or maths teacher you would be very much in demand though. Good Physics teachers are like rocking horse shit.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    You will find it extremely difficult, and the management utterly dismissive of your past life. Teaching per se can be deeply edifying, but unless you find a situation where management is human (as opposed to acronym-speaking Ofsted drone), the system necessarily infantilises the rank and file.


    Most of the teachers I know (including my wife -who teaches secondary Science) are trying to get out of it.
    tough job, and totally different to what it was when she started 15 years ago.
    Agree with the comment above re – management being acronym-speaking drones – the leadership at her current school would be better off working in a supermarket, where the only important thing is the success of the next BOGOF


    my wife worked really long hours in the textile industry and was fed up with travelling and commuting. She gave it up and did a year training for her PGCE and qualified as a DT teacher (textiles).

    First couple of years were great but then the constant pressure of working to deadlines and marking/setting work out of hours meant that she was actually seeing less of the family. Often working all day Saturday and/or Sunday and till 10pm at night.

    After 5 years she’d had enough and was fortunate to get a good job back in industry. Last weekend one of my 6yr old daughters said that she was glad mummy was no longer a teacher as she enjoyed doing stuff with her at the weekends. I guess that brought it home what the past few years had been like.

    I’m sure other people will have different experiences, for us though the grass wasn’t greener.

    Premier Icon brassneck

    I can only echo the above, as my wifes experience as a 20+ year foundation stage teacher. Part time job, full time hours and commitment expected.

    You will also wonder where all the money went when you start on the standard pay scale, though with a shortage subject you might get a bonus rung or two thrown your way. Maybe try throwing all the difference between this salary and the starting scale into pension/isa for a few months, see how it goes?

    I’m a teacher, I have been for 10 years.

    Its half term this week, aka 30 hours of marking.

    50-70h week term time if you want to jump through all the hoops
    Hi pressure, not unusual to have colleagues ranting (most days) crying (some weeks) talking about easier jobs (most weeks).

    I’ve never had a student teacher not have a mild breakdown of some form or other.

    You make a difference. My Uni alumni fund phoned up crying that disadvantaged children are finding it hard to go to Uni, I have sent the majority of my y13 to uni every year. Lots would get there with no help but there are a bunch who only get there because I put the effort into helping them to help themselves.

    6 weeks holiday in the summer.

    Age 55, If you go for it don’t go to an inner city comp! Starting salary outside of London ~£20k

    If you can teach physics you will have no problem finding a job.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash

    Brave choice, and arguably we need more like you.

    The teachers I know all work stupidly long hours and seem to have a very stressed life. They then divide neatly into two groups, those that thrive on it, and those constantly on the verge of a breakdown.

    Only you know which camp you will fall in to.

    50-70h week term time if you want to jump through all the hoops

    choose your hoops mate 😉

    50-55 hours is about right for me


    I’m harbouring no illusions about the workload, it’s more the frustrations caused by dealing with any admin, either internally or externally generated, that I was worrying about. Sounds like a potential problem area.
    Thanks for the feedback.


    I know a lot of teachers. I don’t know one that isn’t looking for a way out.

    Premier Icon nickjb

    Might be worth considering other roles that have some teaching but can also use you existing skill set. There are lots of aspects to STEM communication outside traditional teaching.

    Premier Icon Wally

    Don’t get too caught up in how useful and rare you will be, the students don’t.
    I am also a physics teacher and that fact is when you are in front of 150 teenagers every day – they don’t care how rare you are – they just want you to be able to control the class, have a sense of humor and get them through the exam (mostly). If you show a chink in your armor they will turn you over and that makes you cry – I know. Try it and let us know.

    Teaching is odd, teachers are odd and it’s odd what makes a good teacher.


    I used to teach Maths, I escaped at the end of last term.

    Whilst like others I could give you lots of reasons not to enter this chaotic career… there really are lots of reasons to do it! Only you can decide if the rewards are worth the sacrifices you’ll have to make.

    So if you’re truly interested in giving it a go, and have no financial commitments, go for it! It’ll certainly be an eye opener!

    Although you may need to brush up on your maths skills if you plan to teach Maths! Could you explain to a child why a negative number multiplied by a negative number gives a positive answer? Could you think of an interesting and engaging way to teach children to multiply and divide by decimal numbers? Could you think of different ways of explaining how to complete the square to a child who just didn’t understand your first explanation?

    I enjoyed the above maths type challenges. I also enjoyed the holidays… very cyclist friendly!


    I know a lot of teachers. I don’t know one that isn’t looking for a way out.

    I only know one- a Italian & Spanish teacher. Not once have I heard her complain about her job in all the years that I’ve known her (and she teaches in Manchester).

    I’m not trying to get out of teaching in fact I love it. The frustrating thing for me is getting up every morning wanting to be the best possible teacher I can be and knowing I will have to compromise that massively all day due to a chronic shortage of my time and the schools money.


    I read the first sentence as:

    “…the idea of teaching is appalling” and felt empathy, then felt confused by what followed and reread.

    Teaching is great, just don’t do it the UK.


    I ‘like’ the notion that there is a ‘management’ in a school. Teachers are not managers of people but they are the ones promoted to be ‘in charge’. Management is about getting the best out of the people you’ve got – in schools its more about getting shot of the people you don’t want and getting more cannon fodder in!

    I’m a Maths Teacher and I’m getting back to loving it. You have to do your job and its a hard nasty job – marking 30 books all with the same comments makes your head spin. Most kids care and try hard but some don’t (usually because of other outside issues which you shouldn’t get into if you want to maintain your sanity). The buzz when a whole group of 30 click is amazing but be prepared to be very tired most of the time.

    Good luck

    Premier Icon ampthill

    I currently teach A-level Physics full time in a college. Also did natural sciences at Cambridge

    I’m currently in one of low points in the year, but despite this think in general think its the right job for me. I certainly spend every day surrounded by wonderful people. The main downside is being knackered

    I have a Biology teaching colleague who made a similar transition in his 50s and I think its worked well for him

    But I think schools can be tough places. I’m not sure I could go back to working in schools. I’d suggest looking at exactly what jobs would be in reach. Rather than looking at teaching in general. Its quite a diverse profession

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