Now don’t Teach?


  • DfE ends flagship recruitment scheme for career changers.
  • Charity faces September recruitment shut down despite applications flying in.
  • Now Teach co-founder and ex-FT journalist Lucy Kellaway OBE slams decision.
  • Initiative overhit targets in shortage subjects as over 40s become only ITT risers
  • Lord Blunkett and sector hails their work as “worthy of government funding”.

“At this rate, soon there will be barely anyone left to teach our children”, says Now Teach’s Lucy Kellaway OBE at the Department for Education’s (DfE) decision to end funding for the Career Change Programme for trainee teachers.


Since 2016 the charity has supported over 1,000 older, experienced, professionals to retrain and become secondary school teachers for STEM shortage subjects in England. A support network has also ensured schools retain this unique cohort of skilled and diverse educators.


Teacher recruitment is in crisis. For a decade, targets for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) have been missed by up to 50%. Despite exceeding their hiring targets, Now Teach has been told by the DfE that the Career Change contract will not be retendered for the 2025 cycle.


Meanwhile, hundreds of potential teachers, who must have years of career experience to avail of the free service, contact Now Teach every month for help to get into teaching.


The charity is the latest in a series of DfE initiatives, addressing systemic issues within education, to be cut this quarter. Ministers are currently scrambling to fill a £1.5bn black hole in their budgets, whilst also funding a teacher pay increase.


Lucy, who famously quit a 30 year journalism career to become an Economics teacher, continues: “what the Government is saying to people is ‘now don’t teach’ – as there won’t be any specialised support for you”.


Now Teach has recruited 107% of its DfE contract total since 2019. In the same period, the national hiring campaign underperformed, hitting just 73% of its cumulative target.


Now Teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom than other teachers in their age group. They are also more representative of the population in terms of gender and ethnicity than national averages.


At a standard age of 47, they have come from all walks of life and brought decades of professional and lived experience into schools for shortage subjects. Many have unretired, retrained as a result of redundancy or come out of long-term economic inactivity – especially women returning from a maternity leave induced career break. Hires have included scientists, AI specialists, engineers, financiers, CEOs, Directors and business people as well as nurses and journalists.


Rise of the older trainees


For the second year running, the over 40s were the only age group to increase its number of trainee teachers – recently jumping 14% compared to a national fall of 5%. So far this year, applications from older people are up 40%.


The charity’s expertise, campaigning and partnerships with over 140 training providers have helped normalise the idea of becoming a teacher later in life. For years the UK has had one of the youngest teaching workforces in the OECD, but now, one in ten new trainees has entered their fifth decade.


There is a strong appetite for career change across the country. Now Teach’s joint research with YouGov showed 41% of Brits are open to teaching. One in five people have applied, or considered applying, to become a teacher and a third of these have done so in the last five years.


However, from September, this could be the first time in seven years that there is no tailored provision to recruit and retain trainee teachers from the worlds of business and science.


In such a scenario, Now Teach will have to cease recruitment and it predicts the number of career changers going into teaching will decline, depriving young people of this group’s unique and valuable experience.


Support for our network of teachers would continue until 2026. In the meantime, Now Teach will continue to be the nation’s first port of call for those considering changing career and stepping into the classroom. We will work to forge a new role in the system and ready ourselves to respond when opportunities arise.




  • Lord Blunkett, former Secretary of State for Education says: “Experienced people taking on teaching is an imaginative and effective way to get the high-quality specialist teachers our classrooms so badly need. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Now Teachers and been impressed by their skills, experience and commitment to giving children a great education, increased aspiration and a feel for the careers of the future. It is an inspired idea worthy of government funding. As someone who changed career a few times myself, I know the challenges of having to re-invent yourself and stay motivated. Doing that in front of a class of teenagers requires tailored support and guidance”.
  • Lucy Kellaway OBE, Co-founder of Now Teach and Economics Teacher says: “What the Government is actually saying to older career changers is Now Don’t Teach – as there won’t be any specialised support for you. It’s utter madness to axe a target-busting recruitment programme during a recruitment crisis. We have nearly a decade of experience in getting older professionals to become teachers, to junk it for the cost of a departmental rounding error is beyond short-sighted.


  • Sam Freedman, Director of Strategy at Teach First & former Special Advisor to Michael Gove, ex-Education Secretary says: “We’re in the middle of a major teacher recruitment crisis so it is almost beyond belief that the government would choose this moment to scrap a proven and successful route into teaching that attracts people who would not otherwise enter the profession, and costs less than the Department for Education spend refurbishing their own offices. It’s the definition of ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ and I hope ministers see sense and overturn this decision.”
  • Melanie Renowden, Chief Executive, National Institute of Teaching, said: “Children need great teachers, and great teachers can come from all walks of life. The National Institute of Teaching greatly values the unique contribution of Now Teach towards our shared goal of attracting career changers into the teaching profession and supporting them as they learn. The diverse expertise and stability that career changers bring to the classroom are indispensable. But making a significant life transition isn’t easy. Now Teach has been pivotal in providing a supportive professional network and useful resources for our trainees as they start their teaching journey, guiding them through their training and their first months on the job.”
  • Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching, says: “Now Teach should continue to be funded by the DfE. Some of the best teachers I have worked with are career-changers. Teaching is a brilliant profession and we need passionate advocates to join us now more than ever.
  • Paul Drechsler CBE, Chairman of International Chamber of Commerce and BusinessLDN and ex-CBI President says: “To see a government cutting the pipeline of a new supply of teachers, despite underperforming on recruitment over the past decade, beggars belief. The priorities of the British people are a great education system that prepares young people for great jobs. Now Teachers are the perfect example of how we can bridge the gap between schools and work, while also bringing in new teachers. They are especially bringing in subject experts in maths and science, where they are profound shortages across the country. Let’s spend a little more on education and our young people to make sure we inspire the next generation.”

    Graihagh Crawshaw-Sadler, CEO, Now Teach says: “Now Teach needs to secure additional funding to continue our work. We have achieved so much but have much more to do. Now Teachers have inspired countless other career changers to make the move. Potential educators are still signing up. We currently have the resources to recruit trainees starting this September and provide support for two years, but this situation means we cannot recruit new teachers for 2025 and beyond. We’ll continue to work with training providers across England to make sure these people become and remain as great teachers – while also trying to ensure they are not our final cohort.”

    Katie Waldegrave MBE, Co-founder, Now Teach says: “In living memory humans have almost doubled their life spans. Now Teach’s work is daily proof of how much older workers have to offer society. We increasingly live in age-based bubbles, so age-diverse workplaces are just as important as other forms of diversity – sharing knowledge and breaking down barriers between generations. Ageist people tend to have shorter life spans, so it’s important for all of us- young and old – to see that getting older doesn’t mean stopping – and that the later years of life can be just as full of invention and novelty as the earlier. Now Teachers are key drivers of this, and I’d hate to see schools losing these inspiring role models as a result of this government’s decision.”

    Graham Elton, Chair of Trustees at Now Teach says: “It’s dispiriting that we’ve fallen victim to budget cuts, despite overachieving our targets and being primed to recruit more teachers from this growing cohort. Ending a successful scheme designed to court the very people you need appears counterproductive. Since we were founded, career changers have become a growing part of our school system and we will continue to make the case for long-term DfE backing to help recruit skilled people into teaching. Over the coming months the trustees will do everything we can to seek alternative funding to maintain this important work.”