People who drift into teaching because they have nothing else to do are just as committed to the profession as colleagues who view teaching as their vocation.
That was the finding of a government-funded study that divided teachers into those who join the profession "by design" and those who fall into it "by default".
Researchers from the Institute for Public Policy Research interviewed 73 secondary teachers to find out what attracted them, or dissuaded them, from teaching in challenging schools.
They defined the "default" teachers as including "older female teachers who remember being advised that teaching was a 'good job for women' and who opted for teaching over a career in banking and the civil service.
"This category also includes younger teachers who enter the profession after university and who do not know what else to do."
The "by design" teachers were those who had their hearts set on becoming teachers before they went to university or who had switched careers because they realised they would find teaching more satisfying.
The researchers found some default teachers were "less likely to articulate a positive account of teaching as a profession of value and which has real impact". But the default teachers were no less committed to their jobs.
The report noted that by-design and by-default teachers appeared to be evenly spread among the schools studied, half of which were struggling to improve exam grades.