Nigel Bowen

Nigel Bowen is the Lead Guidance & Development Adviser (GDA) for the Transition to Teach (T2T) programme, run by Cognition Education

In my previous blog post, I discussed how the Transition to Teach (T2T) programme, funded by the Department for Education (DfE), has been developed by Cognition Education to aid teacher recruitment by attracting experienced, talented professionaIs into teaching; and how we are aiding retention by supporting them through their Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) years. I also discussed how pupils can benefit enormously from the skills and experience career changers bring.

In this blog, I will discuss the barriers we have found career changers may face whilst on ITE, and how our Guidance & Development Advisers (GDAs) are working in tandem with our partner ITE providers to provide complementary support for this growing pool of talent.

Of course, the issues career changers face are common to other types of trainees, such as recent graduates. However, research (‘Elite’ career changers and their experience of ITE, Wilkins, 2017) has shown that career changers are disproportionately more likely to fail to complete ITE; and those who do complete frequently feel their previous career experience is undervalued by ITE and NQT tutors and mentors.

Many career changers have left senior roles, so can find it challenging moving from an ‘expert’ to a ‘novice’ role. Many were used to being given opportunities for innovation and development in their previous careers, and may be used to part-time or flexible working, so are looking for the same in their teaching career. Some with families may look for school placements and NQT posts that are closer to home, so they can drop off and pick up their children to/from school. Some have left jobs with high salaries, whilst still having mortgages to pay and families to support. We are always amazed at the dedication and commitment career changers show during their ITE, given the challenges they face.

Teacher stress, wellbeing and workload were the focus of research published by Ofsted in 2019. Some of our career changers have had issues with their physical and mental health; issues with finance, workload and work-life balance (particularly those with young children); and difficulties writing at Masters’ level (particularly if they studied a degree some time ago).

Our GDAs regularly check on participant progress and are constantly on hand to provide high-quality, personalised advice when required. GDA support has consisted of group face-to-face/online webinars, including Application and Interview workshops, and a programme on Resilience. We also provide an online portal of discussion forums and resources.

At times, our GDAs have had to encourage participants to talk to their in-school mentor or ITE provider about any issues, and in some cases this has resulted in changes to school placements and/or mentors, and consequently our intervention has retained trainees on their courses where there had been a possibility they were going to leave. This demonstrates that GDAs provide a vital layer of complementary support, facilitating a marked increase in retention and overall satisfaction of participants.

Case studies from our current participants are on our website here, where they discuss their transition and the support we have given. I will conclude with some comments from one of our participants, Jamie:  “Transition to Teach initially supported me with discussions about whether teaching was the right move and personality profiling which helped me to assess how I saw myself. My mentor has been a huge help in guiding my thinking, helping me see how my skill set could fit into teaching. It’s not an easy transition to move into teaching, but my mentor and the T2T team have made it so much easier and taken a lot of the stress out of the change.”

We may be able to support individuals as they train with you from September 2020, so please encourage your course enquirers to visit our website, where they can view our eligibility criteria and express their interest in the programme. For more information, please contact me directly at




1 Comment

  1. Sally Price on May 25, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    👍Great to have chatted recently Nigel. More than ever this type of support is well placed and well-timed 🙂

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