Top Of The Class: Military veterans offered bursaries to retrain as teachers

Top Of The Class: Military veterans offered bursaries to retrain as teachers

By Ed Hanna

From this September, Military veterans will be offered bursaries worth £40,000 to retrain as teachers as part of a government scheme to help instil self-discipline and leadership skills in young people.

We examine the skills and attributes Service-leavers can bring to the classroom – and why they should consider teaching as a worthwhile and satisfying second career.

Most of us have memories of an outstanding teacher from our school days; that one individual who was able to engage, inspire and challenge in equal measure. The impact of a good teacher goes way beyond school and can have a long-lasting effect on the rest of their students’ lives.

Today’s educators need a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience to make a difference in the classroom – and it is these attributes that the Government is now looking to former Military service personnel to help provide.

As part of a drive to encourage more Veterans to consider a second career in teaching, the Department for Education has just launched a new bursary scheme that provides financial support for Military veterans choosing to retrain for the classroom.

From September 2018, a tax-free bursary of £40,000 will be available to eligible ex-Service personnel who study for an undergraduate degree with qualified teacher status (QTS) in England, in one of the priority subjects: biology, physics, chemistry, computing, maths or modern foreign languages.

This new scheme replaces the existing government initiative ‘Troops to Teachers’ and aims to significantly boost the number of Veterans retraining as teachers by offering greater flexibility in terms of how and where they train.

There are minimum entry requirements – you must have left the Armed Forces in the five years prior to the start of your course, not already have a degree but have GCSE grade C/4 (or standard equivalent) in mathematics and English – as well as a science subject for primary school trainees. You will also need to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy before you start your teacher training.

Nevertheless, as an Armed Forces veteran who can bring invaluable skills, relevant knowledge and experience honed during a Military career, the chance to qualify for financial support while re-training for a second career in teaching could be a tempting one.

Is teaching the career for you?

There’s no denying the challenges being faced by the education sector, not least the reported teacher shortage and growing classroom sizes. A boom in birth rates is set to further swell primary school class numbers over the next few years, while a shortage in secondary teachers for certain subjects continues to cause concern.

However, priority teaching areas: maths, science, modern languages and computing – certainly have a crossover with the knowledge and skillsets gained during many Military careers. The drive to also recruit for the personal qualities that make outstanding teachers and the new Veteran bursary could well open the door to an extremely rewarding second career.

According to the Department for Education, 95% of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are employed in a teaching role within six months of completing their training – with starting salaries around £23,000 (or £28,660 for inner London). On average, a teacher earns £37,400 per year but you could earn as much as £116,738 a year as a headteacher in inner London.

Post-qualification, the opportunities to progress and develop within your new teaching career are many and varied. You could choose to continue to specialise in your curriculum subject or move into a mentoring or managerial role. There are accelerated leadership development programmes available for teachers aiming to become headteachers or you could progress into special needs education, teacher training, school inspection or move out of the school classroom altogether and into further education.

Career changers from all sectors can make an invaluable contribution to the teaching profession and ex-Service personnel are no exception. Leadership, teamwork, discipline, problem-solving, resilience and strength of character are just some of the transferable attributes that Veterans can bring from their former Military life into the classroom. Many ex-Military personnel can also draw on experience of teaching, instructing, mentoring and coaching gained in the Forces.

But more than that, their attitudes and life experiences can help to engage and motivate their pupils, a plus that was not lost on Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson at the recent launch of the new Veteran bursary scheme.

“Our incredible troops have unrivalled life experiences and world-class skills that will motivate and inspire a generation of children in classrooms across the country. This programme not only offers our valued Veterans a new and fulfilling career, it will help our children achieve their aspirations and life goals.”

Case Study

On the drive to get more Military veterans in front of a class, the final word goes to former Royal Air Force Aerospace Systems Manager, Colin Grimes. Colin completed his ‘Troops to Teachers’ training at the University of Brighton and is now a year four teacher at a school in Northumberland.

“Studying for a degree in education while being supported financially opened up exciting new career choices for me. It’s great news that ex-Military personnel will now be offered even more opportunities to train for a valuable and stimulating second career while still being able to support their families.”

For more information on re-training as a teacher and the support available, visit: