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42% of UK employees would opt for another career with greater self-fulfilment and reward

Leading on from new research, Teach First encourages professionals to use their skills and knowledge to make a lasting change by considering a career in the classroom.

  • The pandemic has encouraged almost a quarter (24%) of professionals to consider key worker role
  • Over one in ten (14%) of those professionals have considered teaching as a new role
  • Almost three quarters (73%) of teachers feel they’re making a positive impact on society

A national survey by education charity, Teach First, has found that just under two thirds (64%) of employees are open to changing career pathways in the future, with more than four in 10 (42%) saying they would opt for an alternative job that provided greater self-fulfilment and reward.

There also seems to be appetite for roles that make a difference, as the survey revealed that the pandemic has encouraged almost a quarter (24%) of professionals to consider leaving their role to become a key worker. More than one in ten (14%) of those who have thought about a key worker status have considered a new role in teaching.

When surveying teachers, the charity also found that almost three quarters (73%) feel they’re making a positive impact on society. Most (90%) of those singled out being a positive role model as to why they feel they’re making an impact, while 84% of those feel that they equip children with the knowledge and skills needed to progress positively. 

Teach First believes teachers play a vital role in making our education system work for every child – and this is supported by teachers themselves. Two thirds (66%) believe they make a positive impact by improving equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their background.

When asked their favourite aspect of being a teacher, over a third (35%) of those surveyed said their pupils. This was followed by 19% favouring how teaching involves them using their passions and knowledge to inspire the next generation, while 17% of teachers enjoy the variety of a career in the classroom, choosing how every day is different.

By contrast, the national survey revealed that almost three quarters (73%) of employees are anxious about going to work, hinting that many professionals may not be completely content with their current career. 

When exploring the most important qualities of choosing a job, employees selected ‘positive workplace culture and colleague relationships’ (54%), ‘sense of purpose and feeling as if you are making a difference’ (50%) and ‘strong teamworking spirit’ (43%) as their top three choices. This indicates that employees place a greater emphasis on the people they work with and opportunities to make positive impact, both factors available within a teaching career. 

The findings from both surveys highlight an enthusiasm for careers offering fulfilment, and the crucial role that key workers, particularly teachers, play in supporting communities and developing future generations. Despite the many challenges faced by the education sector, the role of the teacher remains key in continuing to inspire students, engage them in their learning and equip them with relevant skills for the future – particularly through recent periods of disruption. 

As part of its manifesto for school recovery in the wake of COVID-19, Teach First is persistently calling for more support for schools and pupils, who were highly affected by the pandemic. An increase in funding for schools serving disadvantaged communities, and ensuring we recruit, train, and retain high quality teachers is an essential part of that. 

Since 2003, the charity has trained over 18,000 brilliant individuals to teach through the Teach First training programme, many who decided to exchange a previous career for the classroom. Teach First continues to support teachers to make an impact in schools serving some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities. Alongside its initial teacher training programme, the charity also offers teachers additional mentoring, professional development, and support into school leadership positions.

Myles Preston, Assistant Headteacher at Harris Academy in Croydon, who made the decision to switch careers and trained to teach through Teach First, said: 

“I always loved the idea of teaching, so applied for the Teach First training programme back in 2008, fresh out of university. I sadly didn’t get accepted, so I went on to do a graduate role elsewhere and eventually became a commercial lawyer at a top-50 law firm. While I loved my time as a lawyer, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to teach, and eventually reapplied to Teach First and got onto its training programme in 2016. 

“Now six years on I’m an Assistant Principal within the same Multi-Academy Trust I joined as a trainee, and plan to become a principal. I’m still using so many of the skills I developed in law, from negotiating with students, staff, and parents, to managing my time and staying organised while spinning multiple plates. 

“I absolutely love what I do now, and do not regret making the change whatsoever. Looking back, I don’t think I personally would have been as an effective teacher if I’d started back in 2008. I needed that previous experience to develop and prepare myself for the classroom.”

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:   

“Those who join teaching from a previous career bring a new wealth of skills and knowledge into the classroom. Teach First has seen first-hand how sharing real world experiences with young people can inspire them into bright futures. 

“Teachers are doing invaluable work to help pupils recover from the pandemic, especially in disadvantaged communities. We’re proud to work closely with schools to support them - ensuring they’re well equipped, and feel able to thrive in their roles. 

“Teaching is a profession with rewards like no other, and while it comes with its challenges, we know that the satisfaction and fulfilment of unlocking the potential in young people truly lasts a lifetime. Even more importantly, for the young people they support, a great teacher can change their life.”


For interview, comment or case study requests, contact the Teach First media team on or call 0203 841 8483.

Notes to Editor

Two separate research polls were conducted by Censuswide and Teach Tapp, commissioned by Teach First in March 2022. 1,086 employees (both full-time and part-time) across the UK were polled by Censuswide, and more than 4,000 teachers answered the Teacher Tapp survey. Teacher Tapp is a daily survey app that asks over 7,000 teachers questions each day and reweights the results to make them representative. The full data sets can be available upon request. 

About Teach First

Teach First is an education charity which is fighting to make our education system work for every child. Backing the schools facing the toughest challenges. The charity finds and trains teachers, develops their leadership teams and plugs them into networks of diverse expertise and opportunities to create real change.

The charity has now recruited over 18,000 teachers and leaders, has over 95 head teachers in their Training Programme alumni and has supported over a million pupils.
Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school - gaining a fully-funded Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGCE) and earning a salary whilst they train. More than half then stay on for a third year, where they have the option to top up their qualification to a master’s. Over 60% of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching.

As well as recruiting new teachers into the profession, the charity provides a range of support for schools, including programmes to help develop teachers at every stage of their career.
Teach First currently operates in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coast, South West and the East of England.  

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