Returning to the Classroom – Tips for Getting Back into Teaching
18 July 2023

Are you one of the pool of 350,000 qualified teachers not currently working in schools? Perhaps you’ve been missing the daily interaction with children, the pace of the school day, or maybe even the school holidays?

There are many reasons why qualified teachers leave the profession, whether they are intending it to be a permanent or temporary move, such as building a family, travel, sickness, or pursuing another career. While there are many guides for those looking to start their career in teaching, it can be less clear how qualified teachers can return to the classroom.

We’ve put together our tips, based on more than 10 years experience in education recruitment, and working with returning teachers, to help those who hold Qualified Teacher Status to get back into the classroom.

1 – Understand the Jobs Market

The first step for any career change needs to be understanding the current jobs market. You should start to research the current vacancies in your area, or areas that you’re willing to commute / move to. Luckily, research shows us that the demand for teachers remains high – meaning it’s highly likely that there will be plenty of vacancies in your area.

You can view all of our teaching vacancies here to find out what is available in your area

2 – Get Support

The high demand for teachers means that there is a lot of support in place. While support for new teachers is more widely publicised, the DFE also has plans in place to help qualified teachers return to the profession. Their support includes one-to-one support, help with applications for bursaries, and arranging school experience to dip your toes back into the water of teaching.

There is also an abundance of more informal support networks that you might be able to access. From Facebook groups, to reaching out to your old colleagues, or even contacting us to discuss your return to teaching, there are many people out there looking to help.

3 – Refresh Your Skills

The teaching world changes quickly. No matter how long you’ve been out of the classroom, it’s likely that there will be new research and trends to become familiar with. You should start by reading through the Teaching Standards; a document which sets out the minimum expected level of practice from qualified teachers. The current standards have been in place since 2012, so if you left your teaching job before then you will definitely need to study them. If you left your teaching job more recently, it won’t hurt to refresh your understanding of the teaching standards so that you can show how you meet them in your job application.

You could also look for other CPD opportunities to hone and refine your skills in the classroom, whether that’s a course on behaviour, more understanding of safeguarding in schools, or programs on the latest pedagogical theory. All of these will help you to gain crucial knowledge and shows any potential employing school that you are serious about getting back into teaching.

4 – Make the Most of Your Break From Teaching

Many applicants can be nervous about explaining their gap in teaching during an interview. Instead of worrying about it, turn it into a positive. This is an opportunity to show the interviewers how your break from teaching helped you to grow, both personally and professionally.

So don’t try to gloss over this. Take the chance you’ve been given to explain how the work you have been doing since you left teaching might benefit you when you go back into the classroom. Perhaps you’ve taken on a big project that has helped your organisation skills? Or you became an Excel whizz that now helps you to analyse attainment data? Any role will have given some transferrable skills, so make sure you take the time to identify what they were, and be ready to use them in your application and interview.

If you haven’t been in work during this time, you could still discuss how your time away has helped you to develop your skill as a teacher. Perhaps you’ve been raising a family? This is the hardest job there is, so you can definitely use some transferrable skills from that! Even if your time away was just to refresh and recharge during your career, you can still use this to your advantage and explain how you now feel ready to go again with a new zest for your teaching career.

5 – Start Steadily

If you want to gain more understanding of how life as a teacher has changed since you were last in the profession, while also earning a wage, you could try out supply teaching. Supply teaching, or working as a cover supervisor, offers the opportunity to take on work on a more casual basis if you’re not ready to go straight back into full time work.

With the ability to choose the days you work, and the locations you travel to, you can use this as a platform to steadily rejuvinate your teaching career in a way that suits you. We have many supply positions available at James Ray Recruitment, and many of our cover supervisors go on to take long-term and even permanent positions in the schools that they are placed in.

How to Get Started

Congratulations on making the decision to return to the classroom! Getting back on the path to a rewarding, challenging and fulfilling career is a big step. Here at James Ray Recruitment, our specialist education team would love to hear from you if you’re a returning teacher. Our team has strong links with schools across the region, and we have roles available on full-time, part-time, permanent or temporary contracts.