Life as a semi-retired former teacher

Retirement is the first thing you do when you want to get a new life. It is a time of transition and, if you so choose, a time of opportunity. There is not one route to follow but whichever you choose is down to you, says Alan Farnish.

Were you worried about retirement?
I had real concerns in the years preceding my retirement in the year 2001. Work for me was a way of life and I was still physically very fit and mentally very active. Even at sixty I felt I had contributions to make and needed to fulfil new ambitions.

I missed school and colleagues where I had spent the last 25 years of my career. I had had a great send off from staff, governors, parents and students - an assembly hall named after me and a letter of congratulations from Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education. I am naturally proactive, enjoy company and people.

What kind of work do you do now?
The first opportunity for me came from Darlington 6th Form College with a part-time vacancy allowing me to teach A Level Politics. With fabulous students and a positive environment, superb results followed and the initial one term extended to six years!

I was then approached by an LEA to promote the ‘Healthy Schools Award’ in secondary schools which kept me in touch. When this terminated I was asked to organise and monitor their ‘Education at Home Programme’ where a significant number of families were choosing to educate their children at home rather than school; another enjoyable short-term contract for two years.

A local business ITC (Intensive TEFL Courses) asked me to run 2 day courses for them involving people from all professions and backgrounds, who were intending to work and teach abroad. I currently run about eighteen courses a year from Edinburgh to Leeds.

After attending a ‘Teacher’s Retirement Agency Course’ in Durham, I was approached to run one day courses for head teachers and teachers in venues across North West and North East England.

What about work life balance?
Retirement is essentially about achieving the right balance and my wife and I spend time travelling the world from the Caribbean to Middle East, Far East, Australia, Asia and Europe. We continue to do this with much forward planning and juggling of dates to fit in with family and all other commitments. Currently our daughter is teaching English in South Korea and our son is in final year at university.

What advice can you give to other retirees?
Teachers have huge amounts of skills and yet many are reluctant and unsure as to how make best use of these skills. ‘The new you’ must be one of continuing to feel worthy and valuable and to be active in mind and body (I’m still running 25 miles weekly). My new identity since retirement will continue to grow until such times as I decide otherwise. Age for me is a figure with still much to do and I live the dream!