Dear John: Am I too old to teach again?


I have been teaching for four years very successfully, but recently resigned from a temporary contract due to stress/ ill health. I asked to be released early from my contract and the Head very kindly allowed this, however I am now feeling up to going back into the classroom.

I have had one interview which was unsuccessful, the feedback being that there was nothing between the other candidate and myself. Comments about my application, personal statement and interview were all that they were excellent. I have just finished applying for three more posts and am waiting to hear if I have been shortlisted, but I am approaching 50 this year and I need all the help and advice I can possibly get. Can you tell me when the main job season is? Give me any tips that may help at interview? Suggest what I should say about the reasons for leaving my last post? I don’t want pity, but equally I don’t want people to think that I can’t handle classes. I have succeeded in the past with the most challenging of students. Am I too old to be considered at 50? Has the fact that I left my last job prematurely scuppered my chances?


Not that you are not too old, but as you didn’t tell me the subject or phase you teach it is difficult for me to provide an assessment of your chances. The main job season is between now and the end of May. The job market in secondary is going to be tough this year in many parts of the country, and most subjects, so you may have to make several applications. If you are getting interviews, that is a good sign even if you are runner-up on several occasions; other won’t even reach that stage. Be positive and project your good points and I expect you to be able to secure another job even if it will take a bit of time.


John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teachertrainingandconsultancy,including a brief period as a chief government advisor. John is now a recruitment analyst,visiting professorofeducation atOxfordBrookes University and hosts our Career Clinic where you can post questions tohim.