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Tinker, tailor, teacher ... spy

MI5 advertisement in TES targets classrooms for recruits with those all-important people skills

MI5 advertisement in TES targets classrooms for recruits with those all-important people skills

Jet-setting, espionage and national security are not usually associated with a career in the classroom, despite the constant battle to make lessons more exciting.

But all that looks set to change. MI5 bosses are hoping that teachers will switch to protecting Queen and country as they target school staff in their latest recruitment drive.

The secretive agency, which aims to "frustrate" terrorism, detect foreign espionage and stop other countries creating weapons of mass destruction, believes teachers have the skills needed for a career at the heart of intelligence gathering.

An advertisement placed in The TES says teachers' daily experience of dealing with people means that they could make "ideal" candidates for training to become operational intelligence officers.

But those at the chalkface might not be overly tempted by the money. The salary is Pounds 35,425, depending on skills and experience - about the same as a secondary teacher who has been in the job for some time.

"Your experience of dealing with people means you can build trust and relationships with all sorts of individuals, which makes you the ideal candidate for developing a career securing the information we need to protect national security," the advertisement says.

Operational intelligence officers are at the heart of the UK's network of spies.

They are responsible for developing contacts or informants, and must build a rapport quickly with a wide range of people.

Good communication is essential. The officers have to collect information from spies, or agents, and then write reports for their security bosses.

MI5 says self-awareness and sensitivity are essential. Officers will be based in London but will often operate away from the office and work antisocial hours.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "There are a wide range of career opportunities available with MI5.

"The organisation advertises in a range of media, including local, regional and national newspapers, trade publications and online media in order to attract a diverse range of candidates who may have the right skills and experience."

For more on MI5 careers, visit


PE teacher - Spy

7.30am - Arrive. Check equipment ready for all the day's lessons.

7.45 - Morning club: basketball with 20 Year 9s.

8.30 - Tutorial with form group.

8.45 - 1st lesson: softball, Year 7.

9.45 - 2nd lesson: softball with different Year 7 group.

10.45 - Morning break. Check fixtures for following day.

11.00 - PPA time. Plan GCSE PE theory lesson for after lunch.

12.00pm - Cover food technology class. Task left by teacher doesn't work so pupils design meal for me.

13.00 - Lunch. Spend first half doing positive play, football in playground. Eat meal with pupils in my house.

14.00 - 5th lesson. GCSE PE theory: speed, what is it? Why do we need it in sport? How do we improve it?

15.00 - 6th lesson. Cricket, Year 8. Introduction to rules of game. Assess how capable pupils are.

16.00 - After-school club. Cricket nets with all years.

17.30 - Chase up absences, phone calls to parents of my tutor group about behaviour, homework etc.

18.00 - Cycle home.

Huw Levis is second in charge of PE at the Petchey Academy in Hackney, east London.

09:30am - Arrive at office.

10:00 - Speak to finance about expenses for 14:00 meeting with agent pursuing suspected terrorists in the South East.

10:30 - Meeting to discuss whether it is safe to send Agent AB123 to location frequented by suspected terrorists.

12:00pm - Brief operational security adviser on meeting. Confirm Agent AB123's visit to location of interest. Talk to Special Branch about meeting in North West next week.

13:30 - Meet Agent AB123. Discuss associates connected to terrorism. Agree two-week objectives. Confirm next contact.

15:00 - Return to office and brief manager on meeting.

15:30 - Write up intelligence reports. Agree how we can use information while still protecting source.

16:50 - Agent BC234 makes contact to report that his mother is ill; he warns that he may need to visit her overseas.

17:00 - Write account of meeting with Agent AB123 and start on expenses forms.

19:30 - Travel home by tube.

'008' writes under an assumed name to protect his identity.

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