Finance for Freedom: Alternative careers for teachers
The Finance for Freedom series of posts are inspiring and motivating stories of how the choices people make can help them to be happier, healthier and wealthier. This particular one focuses on an alternative career for teachers.
Tell us a bit about you and your family
My little family began when I met my wife-to-be. It was New Year’s Eve, on the stroke of midnight, when I looked around and saw this beautiful girl looking up at me with the biggest eyes I’d ever seen. I was dressed as a Roman soldier and she was dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. From then on, things moved on really quickly for us both. A year and a half later, we moved into our first house together and had to scrimp and scrape to keep on top of our mortgage payments and bills.
With the encouragement of my girlfriend, I applied for School Direct. This was probably the worst year of my life! Incredibly stressful and university staff and staff at my placement school failed to provide me with sufficient training in order to be an effective teacher. Still, I was proud to be going back to university and proud to become a teacher – something I never thought possible and a first for my family.
Sometime later, I managed to secure my first teaching post and moved to our second home, away from where I was born and raised. During this NQT year, I had already decided that teaching really wasn’t worth the pittance you get paid, for all of the stress and time demands that come with the job. After this year, I couldn’t wait to leave the school and all of the problems that came with teaching there. I decided from then on to go part-time!
The date soon reached 12.12.12 when it happened to be my wife’s birthday. We were in New York, having the time of our lives. I arranged for a horse-drawn carriage to take us around Central Park and told the driver to stop off at Bow Bridge – from there, I asked my girlfriend to take a walk with me as I wanted to show her this beautiful bridge which I had seen on the internet. In front of the bridge, I got down on one knee. She burst out crying, passers-by burst out crying, and luckily for me, she said yes! 13.11.13 we had our first boy, Hugo. Our lives (and my priorities) had now completely changed. 12.08.14 we got married. 25.01.17 we had our second boy, Finley.
Before Finley was born, I was working part-time in Year 6. We were soon to teach World War Two as our topic and I went in search of a suitable workshop, for someone to come into school and wow the children. Spending quite some time browsing through the many providers, it was blazingly obvious that many people who offered such an experience were just playing ‘dress-up’ and ‘winging it’. Nearly all of the providers were not even qualified teachers. I hadn’t really thought of alternative careers for teachers at this point, but I thought ‘I can do a much better job myself’.
Could this be an alternative career to teaching?
From then on, I rushed to set up a workshop which I could trial at my own school. I bought as many WW2 artefacts as I could (to my wife’s dismay) and began meticulously researching World War Two for many, many hours. I then used this research to inform my planning, whilst making sure that the day was as interactive as possible and was aligned with the new curriculum.
WW2 Workshop was born.
One by one, schools started booking my services. Their feedback was incredible – I was humbled to receive such praise for my work. Soon, word began to spread and bookings began to fill the rest of my working week. Knowing that in order to make a real go at making this my full-time business, I needed to run another workshop, I decided to begin researching and planning my favourite era in history, the Romans. Soon, Roman Workshop was born.
Schools excitedly booked my services for this as they had seen what good value WW2 Workshop was. They were equally complimentary about Roman Workshop, so before I knew it, I was fully booked each and every week. During the third year of part-time teaching, just over two years from running my first workshop, I had reached the point where I had been fully booked for the whole of the Autumn and Spring terms. Demand for my workshops was far more than I could meet – many schools had to look elsewhere as they left it too late to book. Then came the decision to make another huge jump – to quit my job as a teacher and focus solely on my business. Now I have achieved my dream of working for myself, whilst giving great value and positively influencing the lives of thousands of people.
What do you do to make money?
Run educational workshops in schools – WW2 Workshop and Roman Workshop, under the brand Historic Workshops.
How long have you been doing this?
What inspired you to do it?
I have a passion for history and I knew I could do a far better job than people currently providing similar workshops.
What do you love most about it?
I am my own boss. There is no marking. No interfering parents. And no Head Teacher on my case. No performance management reviews. No formal observations focusing on ridiculous targets. I get to provide thousands of children with an incredible learning experience which they will most likely remember for the rest of their lives. And I get to talk about what I’m really passionate about, British History. I get VALUED. If you are considering an alternative career to teaching, then this is a good option.
If you would like to start on your own journey to financial freedom, then why not check out my fantastic free download.
What do you find most challenging about it and how do you overcome this?
The travelling – I travel nationwide and can drive for over 3 hours to reach a school. I overcome this by listening to audiobooks to improve my knowledge/mindset.
Money can make or break a person.
Has your relationship with money changed over the years?
From having very little when we bought our first house, we are now comfortable with our financial situation.
How do you feel that money has now made you happier, healthier, or wealthier?
Money has given us more choices – to go on nicer holidays and move into a bigger house.
What important choices have you been able to make because of money?
We are currently looking to move to our third house, which far surpasses what I ever thought achievable for the size of house that I would ever be able to afford. The main thing that more money has given me is the choice of what I want to work on. I have plans for the near future that involve me following my passions and developing my skills and characteristics, entering local politics and making a difference to my local community. Setting up another business, providing consulting services to schools is also in my plans. I plan to develop the Facebook group, Primary Teachers, which is the largest teachers’ group on Facebook (if you are an educator reading this and are not a member, see the links below!)
For many, the retirement age is now 67 or 68. Do you still see yourself still working at this age?
I do not see myself working until retirement age. I will endeavor to work hard to ensure that I can live comfortably in this time of my life, not burdened with the need to work to pay the bills.
What does your ideal retirement look like? At what age? What do you see yourself doing?
I hope to be retired by 60 – I would say sooner but my future plans involve me doing something that I will thoroughly enjoy and won’t involve too much exertion.
What plans do you have in place to allow you to live this ideal retirement?
A plan in my head of building my business whilst developing other areas of business.
Leigh runs an inspirational WW2 Workshop as well as a Roman Workshop and and can be found on Facebook and Twitter. He also runs the biggest Facebook group for Primary teachers, which is a great place to find inspiration and support.