Too Old to Teach?

As disquiet builds around government plans to raise the pension age to 68, Teachwire have been asking teachers how long they expect to stay in the classroom…

“My experience is that as head of faculty, with lots of departments, you’ve kind of burnt out by 58 or 59. Part-time could be maintained ‘til 63 maybe, but after that you start to get physical things go wrong with you.

The government has shot us – women – in the foot. We should have been given at least 10 years to add extra money in to our teacher’s pension, and thus retire comfortably. As a result I now do tuition work. I wouldn’t choose to do but it makes up the extra money.

By the time you get to your 60s you can’t tolerate people in their 30s telling you about ‘this new, wonderful thing’. If you’re not careful you find yourself being a bit sharp in meetings…”

Maggie Crozier is a drama-teacher-turned-private-tutor in Essex

“From my experiences of the nature of this career, all formal retirement ages discussed seem unrealistic, whether 68, 60 or 82! As a result I don’t worry too much. It seems totally impossible to imagine teaching at that point, so any discussions about the exact age have limited impact, really.

Many staff feel going part time is the only way to cope; unless you go into more administrative positions, a full timetable becomes too demanding. I think beyond 55 it becomes difficult to have enough energy; I think it becomes a struggle to go the extra mile that’s expected in the classroom.

If you speak to most people of 60 years old, and try to picture them inspiring 34 teenagers, you can imagine how challenging it is to carry on to retirement age.”

Darren Beasley teaches IT at a comprehensive in Surrey

“Sixty is definitely the most reasonable retirement age. It can be hard to find the energy required for a full timetable. I think all teachers should have the option of part-time roles when they reach 60. I’d like to have the opportunity to take voluntary retirement. I’m dreading my final 18 months.

I feel a lack of fulfilment; it feels like a story unfinished. I have lots to offer but I am not sure anybody wants to utilise my experience and skills.

Experience is certainly helpful, not many situations arise inside or outside the classroom that I haven’t dealt with before. I feel very secure with my subject knowledge and the different ways that topics can be delivered successfully.

Anon, science teacher at an English-language comprehensive in Wales

Read more teachers thoughts Too Old to Teach?

What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Comments

  1. Kasia Fejcher-Akhtar

    There should not be any age limited as we are individuals with different outlook on life. Middle age teachers do themselves disservice by creating image of warn out, energy less and negative towards younger generations creating resentment. Too often young and experience teachers climb the professional ladder unprepared resulting in many decisions that do not move schools forward. It is not their fault, they cannot jump the hoops and fill in gap created by lack of experience.
    Teaching is learning and developing yourself throughout your life. One of the problem is that too many people went to teaching because there was nothing better they could do and cannot sustain standards.
    One for the solution is to plan your career in such a way so you can fulfil all the roles your want to take on yourself, knowing that you cannot do it altogether. I took 10 years to look after my two children and when ready accepted full time post. I am now at my most creative time, confident in my role yet you are telling me to retire!!
    No, thank you.

  2. Anonymous

    I agree to some extent with the above person. As I’m not a teacher I can’t speak for them but most jobs in comparable positions are hard and often with not much time off. I have a new lease of life in my 50s now that my son is at university. I don’t want to work forever but we all struggle to afford to retire given we may live another 20 to 30 years after retirement! Retire when it suits or when you need to but don’t think it’s any worse for teachers than anyone else because it really isn’t.

  3. Anonymous

    I became a teacher in my 30s. It was the hardest job with the longest hours compared to any of the jobs I had held previously, including one in the charity sector which involved very long hours. When I retired at 62 I was exhausted, due to the circumstances, I had been working 7 days a week for 2 years with only very short holidays. The result was that when I retired I was sleeping about 14 hours a day and it took me at least 3 months to even become half way human and to be able to start being more positive.

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