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‘Teaching must be varied to attract millennials’

Graduates no longer want one job for life - they are seeking variety in their careers, says teacher training expert

We need to make teaching more varied to attract today's graduates, says Sam Twiselton

Graduates no longer want one job for life - they are seeking variety in their careers, says teacher training expert

Teaching needs to be presented to young people as a varied career because millennials do not want one job for life, according to the head of a major training provider.

Professor Sam Twiselton, the director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University, said recruitment and retention could be boosted by ensuring that teachers are given the chance to do different things.

She told Tes that discussions were taking place among teacher training providers in South Yorkshire to allow teachers to work in different schools for a day a week.

Professor Twiselton said she believed that multi-academy trusts could be well-placed to offer this, but voiced concern that small single schools will not be able to provide teachers the same variety.

Her comments follow controversy last week surrounding a post on Twitter by Teach First, which highlighted the case study of a former teacher who had gone on to a successful career in investment banking.

Teaching in different schools

The education charity apologised for the tweet, which suggested that teaching could be used as a stepping stone to other careers.

Professor Twiselton told Tes that she had voiced concerns with Teach First about the tweet. She said it was at odds with the messages the charity has been sending out under the leadership of Russell Hobby.

However, she said that the post highlighted an important issue – that graduates today do not want a job for life.

She said: “There is something we need to learn about my kids’ generation, who are current graduates – that there is more of an expectation of a more varied career.

“The idea that you go into a school and stay in that school and do the same job forever is pretty out of date I think.”

Professor Twiselton is now looking to build on this idea through the Partnerships for Attainment project, which has brought together teacher training providers across South Yorkshire in a bid to raise standards and boost recruitment and retention.

She said: “We have been asking, ‘Is it be possible for you to have more variety in your post in a region if the region works to make it possible to spend time in other people’s schools?'

"So could you be working in a class for four days a week and then be specialising in a particular thing that takes you to other schools on the fifth?

“For me, that would have kept me in the profession. I left after five years – not because I hated it but because I was ready for a change and I had had a baby and I was ready to work part-time." 

She added: “I think there needs to be a sense of a career with a lot of variety in it and trying to build that in more systematically, and multi-academy trusts do have an advantage here. 

"They can talk about different roles and the kind of support you will be able to get. It would be nice, as a system, if we could replicate some of that across the system. It shouldn’t be dependent on which multi-academy trust you happen to be in.

"I worry about those small primary schools, particularly when I think back to Cumbria, where I used to work, because nobody wants them in a multi-academy trust because of the financial implications, so they are sort of left swinging in the breeze.

"I think they probably miss out on the ability to be able to create the sense of a career of opportunity of variety because they can’t really guarantee it.”

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