Dear John: do schools think I'm too old at 50 to begin a teaching career?


I`m in the final stages of my maths PGCE and have been applying for the numerous jobs that have started to appear. However as my younger student colleagues are getting interviews and jobs I am yet to be lucky!!  Does this mean that I will have to wait until later in the academic year to see what positions are remaining to be filled, thus limiting my choice of schools ? Is it being presumed that I am “more expensive” to employ and not young and malleable? Getting more despondent as time goes on.


Sadly, on the face of it and in the present climate the answer is probably yes. Of all the PGCE completers in 2006, there were 170 aged between 50 and 54, and 100 of these were teaching by March 2007. This is the latest data available, and can be consulted on the

DCSF website 

The job scene has deteriorated since then. However, you are training in maths and that will be a help as the pool of new teachers tends to run out before the end of May and schools looking in June or July may then welcome you with open arms. Good reports from your placements and a helpful course tutor who, having offered you a training place, has at least a moral obligation to help you find a job will help, but you may find your choice of schools limited. But, someone may leave at the end of May on promotion from a very good school and you could walk into a dream job. Only time will tell, but I fear you need to keep applying and be prepared to be patient.


Do you think there’s ageism in recruitment? Please post your comments below or join the discussion in the career clinic forum

John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training and consultancy, including a brief period as a chief government advisor. John is now a recruitment analyst, visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University and hosts our Career Clinic where you can post questions to him.

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