The past months have been among the most unexpected and challenging in recent memory. Lockdown has forced us into our homes, pushed some into poverty, and separated us from families and friends.

Parents and teachers had to learn new skills overnight to make sure children could carry on learning in the midst of all this uncertainty.

At Now Teach, we wanted to know how lockdown is affecting people’s attitudes to teachers and to teaching. We ran a survey and this is what we found.

Career-change to teaching increases

The Covid-19 lockdown has led to a significant number of people reconsidering their priorities and their careers.

More than 1.6 million people in the UK (3.1% of the survey) could now be thinking about becoming a teacher, despite not considering it before lockdown. If you are one of them, you are in good company.

"This situation has given everyone cause to reflect and consider what’s important. I think about us a family and there was a huge amount of uncertainty; we soon moved to a stage where we were grateful for everything that we’ve got. We re-evaluated our priorities.

"I think COVID helped clarify my thinking because of that introspection."

York Deavers, Investment management, Essex

Lockdown has led to a surge in the desire to change career more generally. One in 10 of us (9.8%) or 5.2 million people are now reconsidering what we do with our working lives.

Motivations to teach and respect for teachers

But why teaching? People’s motivations to teach are hugely important to us at Now Teach and the survey findings match our priorities. The top reasons people give for wanting to become teachers are because they want to work with children and young people (22.8%) and they want to have a social impact (19.1%).

"When coronavirus broke out, I thought, ‘I want to inspire young people and I want to be giving back.’ This pandemic has given me the final push in that direction. When children go back to school in September, they’re going to need support, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds."

Aisha Singleton, Publishing, Norwich

While some press coverage has been critical of teachers, lockdown has actually seen an increase in the status of teachers, especially with parents.

Over 25% of parents said they had become more grateful for the work of teachers since lockdown, while only 3% said they had become less so. About 25% also said that their respect for teachers had risen (compared to just 4.5% who said that respect had fallen).

"I have a newfound respect for teachers. This period has definitely made me appreciate them more, and the understanding of the challenges they face is more apparent.

"The pandemic and the crisis have further bolstered my belief in that there are things more important than professional success and high salaries."

Polis Polycarpou, Banking and consultancy, London 

The pleasures of homeschooling

Social media made much mileage of how hard and stressful home-schooling has been but our survey shows the opposite. 64% of parents say they have enjoyed home-schooling and only 9% reported a negative experience, revealing one of the possible drivers for people to consider teaching.

"I’ve been sitting down with my son, who is in Year 10, and going through the GCSE syllabus, and remembering a lot of it. I haven’t looked at this since my own A-levels or parts of my degree. It has been really interesting, and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.

"This time has been a real catalyst to get on and make the career change."

Sameera Cooper, Catering, London

If you are one of the 1.6 million people thinking about teaching, Now Teach can help.

We support professionals to retrain as secondary school teachers, helping them secure a training placement and then supporting them to complete teacher training.

Now Teach's co-founder, Lucy Kellaway, sums up:

"I co-founded Now Teach four years ago because I hoped there were other professionals out there who, like me, wanted to do something more useful with their lives.

"The pandemic has made this point more powerfully than I ever could. It has shone a light on the emptiness of some jobs and made people want to do something that really matters.” 

Lucy Kellaway, co-founder of Now Teach and economics teacher at Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy in East London