Justin Tomlinson working with footballers’ union to help players move from the pitch to the classroom

By Barrie Hudson - 16 December 2022

  • Mr Tomlinson, second from right, at the meeting

    Mr Tomlinson, second from right, at the meeting

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Department for Education are to work together on new initiatives designed to encourage more players to pursue careers in teaching.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson is among the politicians involved with the initiative.

The PFA is the union for professional footballers in England, representing players from the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Women’s Super League (WSL).

The union offers a wide range of support and services to members. It provides education grants to players, allowing them to take a range of vocational and academic courses as they prepare to transition into new careers once their playing days have ended.

Last season the PFA invested almost £2 million in education services, providing over a thousand individual grants to current and former players.

Representatives from the PFA met with the Minister for Schools, the Rt Hon Nick Gibbs MP, in a meeting secured and led by Justin Tomlinson and Ben Bradley, the MP for Mansfield.

The MPs had previously met with the PFA to discuss issues with recruitment into education roles, with Ben Bradley leading a parliamentary debate where he raised the need to open up careers in teaching to more people.

Mr Tomlinson said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the PFA, who provide fantastic support to professional footballers as they transition into new careers, are willing to work so proactively with the Department for Education.  

“Having come from a family of teachers I know first-hand what a rewarding opportunity this can be, so as the Government seeks to recruit a more diverse range of teachers this is a real win – win.”

Mr Bradley said: “It is really welcome to see the Department for Education working closely with the PFA on new avenues for former pros to become teachers.

“I have long called for an opening up of the teaching profession to people who may not have come through the traditional route, including in a recent debate in Westminster Hall. Doing this would allow for a diversity of views and experiences to be represented in our education system, helping the development of the next generation. 

“The life experiences that many of these former footballers have will undoubtedly help in this endeavour, including in getting more positive male role models into our schools. As such I really welcome this initiative from the PFA and the DfE to encourage former footballers into the teaching profession. I look forward to seeing the programme progress and getting more teachers into our schools.”

PFA Director of External Affairs Ben Wright said: “We are very grateful to Justin and Ben for securing this meeting and recognising the huge potential within the PFA’s network of players and former players.

“We help our members go onto new and rewarding careers in a wide range of roles and sectors, including teaching, when they finish playing. 

“We look forward to working with the Department for Education to look at ways of encouraging more players to consider taking that path from the pitch to the classroom.”

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