Exploring Jobs Beyond the Classroom

Having taught secondary Geography for most of my professional life post-academia, the decision to leave classroom teaching was a difficult one for me. While the COVID pandemic and the challenges for teachers was undoubtedly a factor, I think I’d also come to the conclusion that I loved my subject (and/or was more capable of it) more than I loved leadership and management. I knew that anything above being a Head of Department was going to take me away from subject; and while that’s a really exciting prospect for many people, it wasn’t the right choice for me.

I’d started to explore my options, but I was very fortunate to find a job with Teach First via social media, and applied without really understanding the wider landscape. I’ve been working with my subject colleagues now for just over 18 months, and I thought I’d share my advice for anyone else thinking about leaving the classroom and exploring the education space that exists beyond schools.

What are my options?

If you break down your classroom teaching experience in to new fields, I think there’s four big areas that you might want to explore.

First, if you love subject and teachers, you might think about teacher training and development in your subject. This might be at a university, or might be at another educational provider – could be one of the larger organisations, or could be at a smaller and more local option. School based Teacher Training providers might have lead roles, and there are options through subject associations for consulting and supporting teachers in your subject, too.

If you’re the kind of person who liked curriculum design, you might go in to development of resources or writing ideas. This could be curriculum design roles in an education provider, or even leadership of a subject theme in a Trust. You might consider working for an educational publisher, subject association, or organisation who create and make resources. It might be subject specific, or it could be more generalised.

If teaching and working with young people is your focus you might think about the organisations who serve schools. Museums, youth groups, charities and lots of spaces are often looking for people who like teaching and have all of the skills required, but want to be working in a different non-subject space. You could, for example, consider some of the fieldwork study providers if you’re a Geographer! If you have a more pastoral focus, you could consider branching out in to counselling or pastoral roles that support schools.

Finally, you might want to go towards the project management type roles if you’ve got middle leadership experience, and enjoyed getting things done as a team. There are a number of ex-teachers who are good at supporting programmes, working with designers and other colleagues to build or write something great, and who love the idea of Gantt charts and projects as their skill set! You’ll see these described in different ways, so look carefully through the job description to be confident about what you’re looking at!

Where do I look for jobs?

For those of us who’ve only ever used TES to find jobs, I think this is probably one of the more frustrating components of finding a job in the education spaces beyond schools. There aren’t really centralised and overlapping spaces that you can use singly – it’s often a case of exploring a number of different avenues. Take stock of all of the things that intersect with things you use – textbooks, exam boards, resources and providers etc – and use them as a springboard to explore options for your future career!

I’d also strongly recommend having a look via social media. You might not feel you want (or need) to dive in to the world of Twitter – though I acknowledge a lot can get advertised that way – but I’d advise a good LinkedIn profile and following things you are interested in. Lots of jobs go through that space, and you’ll often connect to consultants or people doing recruitment – so a little investment can be very powerful!

What are some of the changes?

There’s a proverb about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, so I won’t waste your time with that. In my experience, the key changes are:


Generally more flexible, more likely to have hybrid or remote working options, may allow you to focus on one area (e.g. curriculum development) and not others. Autonomy over your working day and lack of bells/timetable is a very strange feeling! My diary is mine to manage; breaks, flexibility, lunch and cups of tea are very positive. I bring my cats to work (technically, I suppose I bring my work to my cats… but…) I’m really lucky to be working with fabulous colleagues and teams who have put a lot of trust in me to do my job how I think it needs to be done best; but I’m not claiming that’s a universal experience.


Pay is variable, depending on where you currently are and what you do. Pensions will be significantly less than TPS. I find the remote nature can be challenging at times; you can certainly get more lonely or disconnected from your impact compared to classroom teaching/working in a Department office! The narrower range of experience – you’re less likely to leap from pastoral to academic to cocurricular to admin – might feel relatively quiet, too. Some roles – particularly in more academic settings – might regard L7+ experience (Masters or above) as desirable/essentials – and that could be frustrating for teachers.

If you’re thinking of changing careers, then I wish you the very best of luck. Although classroom education is a hugely important and wonderfully rewarding career, there’s a number of great spaces where that experience can be built upon for different people – and I hope you find your fit!


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