More older teachers joining, staying and closing the gender gap, says Now Teach

85% of Now Teach’s teachers are over 30-years-old and 42% are male, compared to national averages of 15% and 28% respectively

Latest UK government and union figures showing a continued sharp decline in teacher applications, poor retention and stubborn gender disparity are in sharp contrast to buoyant late-career change data.

Now Teach is a UK charity inspiring talented people to retrain as teachers and supporting them to stay in the classroom long term. 85% of our 500 teachers are over 30-years-old compared to 15% nationally. They used to be virologists, lawyers, journalists and bankers.

Currently, Now Teach sees:

  • An 82% increase in these applications compared to the same point in March 2019. Nationwide, there was a 3% decline.
  • Higher retention rates than the national average. 93% of Now Teachers gaining Qualified Teacher Status are still teaching a year later versus 85% in England.
  • Just 6% saying they would leave teaching within five years – falling to 1% within two years. Recent NEU research shows nearly half of teachers plan to leave the profession by 2027 and a quarter by 2024.
  • More male teachers. 42% of this year’s Now Teach intake are male versus 28% nationally. 56% from Now Teach are male whereas 76% of teachers in England are women.


England has one of the youngest teaching workforces in the OECD. Data also shows that the UK’s most economically deprived schools have the youngest teachers, meaning those children are taught by those with the least life experience.

Matthew Booker, BBC producer turned History teacher at Three Rivers Academy, said: “Teaching was something I had always had in the back of my mind that I’d like to try. I loved the idea of being part of a community and helping young people bring out the best in themselves.

“The problem, however, was that it felt too much of a leap, both in terms of money and starting all over again. Things changed when I was fortunate enough to be offered voluntary redundancy. The money from that, combined with attending a Now Teach event, made me realise, that at 44, it was time to try. Now Teach were honest about the challenges I would face but made me feel confident I could do it. It’s a very tough job but I have no regrets.”

Katie Waldegrave, Now Teach co-founder and director, said: “Our data shows how people who’ve already had one successful career can help fix the recruitment crisis and address longstanding intractable challenges within the education space. I’m proud we’re also addressing gender disparity. Teacher recruitment is hard, but it’s vital for boys to have role models in their male teachers. Amongst low attainting students it’s been shown to help improve attainment levels whilst embedding positive values.”

Kharuz Zaman, corporate lawyer turned maths teacher, Harris Boys’ Academy, said: “One of the reasons for Now Teach attracting more male teachers could be a healthy shift in attitudes among professionals working in eg the City, with more people being motivated by having a clear sense of purpose and a desire to make a contribution to society.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that statistics continue to show that there is a marked reduction in the proportion of women and ethnic minorities in leadership positions. We still have a long way to go before we can say that the world of education has fully embraced diversity and is truly meritocratic.”

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