City slickers' classroom calling driven by craving for holidays

2nd October 2009 at 01:00
Teaching now 'career of choice' as perceived perks and worklife balance mean half of office workers would consider it, says survey

Bankers and other city workers suffering in the global recession admit they are attracted to teaching because of the long-held cliches about the profession - including the desire for long holidays.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) study suggests financial sector employees' interest in schools is as much to do with the perception of an easy worklife balance as wanting to change society, despite recent research showing that most primary and secondary school staff still put in more than 50 hours a week.

The survey of around 800 people - white-collar middle managers, lawyers, bankers and architects - was commissioned to find out whether the boom in those training this year would "feed a golden generation" of teachers, or whether everyone would head back to the City as the green shoots of recovery grow stronger.

Around 70 per cent of legal and finance workers, and around 55 per cent of architects and white collar managers, cited long holidays as something that would attract them to teaching. Around 65 per cent of legal and white collar workers said they would be attracted to teaching because of the worklife balance.

This year all targets for student numbers were met for the first time. The aim of the study, carried out by think-tank Future Foundation, was to establish whether the new-found interest in teaching is transient, or whether there has been a greater shift of social values.

Redundancy-prone sectors were targeted by the TDA last year as the recession took hold, and recruitment events in Canary Wharf and the City of London were considered a success.

Teaching was rated as the best career for worklife balance by many of those questioned as part of the survey. Around 10 per cent said they would definitely consider a career in teaching, an average of 40 per cent said "maybe" and around 20 per cent said "definitely not".

The study shows that people have different career priorities now. They want a secure job with variety, where they learn new things and have acceptable stress levels. Titles such as "manager" or "director", wearing suits and having a career that would make others envious are apparently now less important.

Graham Holley, chief executive of the TDA, said: "Teaching is now the career of choice. As so many more people are applying for teacher training, we are in the luxurious position of being able to choose from the best."

James Carter, a former head-hunter, left City life for the classroom in 2008. He is now a newly qualified teacher working in an inner-city school in Haringey, north London.

Mr Carter told the researchers: "As part of my job I was horizon-scanning anyway and I could see how badly the recession was going to hit us. I've always wanted to go into teaching, but was attracted to the money and lifestyle in the City.

"I decided to seize the opportunity to give something back and work in a profession that I was really passionate about. Since the change, I have never looked back - and the money's not bad either."

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