Most teachers will know someone who has left the profession. In March last year, there were 251,000 trained teachers who were currently not in service. How many of those could be tempted back into the classroom?
You may have been rising up the ranks in a school with a plan to become a member of the senior leadership team, or perhaps finding your feet in the first few years of teaching, and, for whatever reason, you had to leave. An interruption such as this could leave you unsure about your route back in, lacking in confidence or worried about it going wrong a second time.
But the process can be made easier. Here’s how.
1. Get support
Owing in part to the teacher shortage, there is a lot of support on offer for those looking to return to teaching. If you are a languages, maths or physics teacher, then you can register with Get Into Teaching, and the organisation will arrange one-to-one support and help you to gain school experience to ease you back in.
For all other subjects and phases, there is support from the same organisation, with advice on applying for a bursary while you undertake unpaid work experience, alongside other practical tips.
There is also support out there specifically for returning parents in the form of MTPT (Maternity Teacher Paternity Teacher) project. This group of teachers runs a Twitter account and organises coffee mornings and workshops for teachers who are either on parental leave or taking an extended break from teaching while they raise their family.
The group even has a two-module MTPT project accreditation that can be completed while out of the classroom.
2. Do some reading
While you’ve been out of the classroom, the chances are you haven’t kept up to date with the details of curriculum changes and teaching standards. Reading the Teachers Standards will make you feel more confident before you start filling out application forms.
After a break, you may have decided you want to return but to a different subject. You might think maths will make you more employable, or that offering another subject might get you a bit of flexibility on the days you want if you’re part time. If this is the case, have a look at the taking a CPD course.
It's also important to make sure you're comfortable speaking about the important pedagogical aspects of your teaching job. Reading up on important topics like what is pedagogy, teaching theories, and teaching styles would be a good start.
3. Back yourself
Sometimes after a career break, teachers feel as if they cannot re-enter at the level that they left, fearing that their time out of the classroom has set them back.
However, Emma Sheppard, founder of the Maternity Teacher Paternity Teacher project, feels that this shouldn’t be your first thought. Instead she suggests that you “consider asking for shadowing opportunities at the level you exited to see whether you are still interested in this level of responsibility”.
4. Don’t mind the gap
Hannah Wilson, headteacher of Aureus School in Didcot, values applications from staff who have taken breaks from teaching. Rather than hide the gaps, Wilson suggests that you emphasise the benefits from having the break.
“As a headteacher, I value staff who have interesting CVs. Portfolio careers bring value to a school, as do outside interests,” she says.
“Don’t hide career breaks and departures from a linear journey; be proud of them and explain the impact they have had on you.
“For example, I was a restaurant manager before I trained to teach, and I use it as a metaphor for running a classroom and knowing everyone’s needs.”
Where do I start?
The first thing to do is set up a search alert on Tes jobs. Then start to look at application forms and job specifications.
Go to the careers advice pages for specific guidance for different roles and top interview tips.