Almost a third of newly qualified secondary school teachers in Britain have swapped managerial or senior professional jobs for a career in the classroom, according to new research.
A survey of 571 teachers by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA), shows that many had given up lucrative careers in areas such as accountancy, banking, sales and management.
In maths teaching, almost a quarter of new entrants had previously been bankers or accountants, while one in six science teachers were trained scientists or pharmacists.
Overall, eight out of 10 (78 per cent) of the newly qualified teachers quizzed by the TTA said that they made the move because they were keen for an "intellectual challenge".
Mike Watkins, Acting Director of Teacher Supply and Recruitment for the TTA said: “Many people are choosing teaching as a second career because it offers a whole range of new experiences compared with their previous profession.
“Classrooms are very creative places and interacting with young people on a daily basis means that the job is constantly stimulating and intellectually challenging.
“More than a third of people entering teacher training are over 30 years old, with many having worked in another field before becoming teachers.
"The knowledge and expertise these professionals have developed in their previous career is often extremely valuable to the teaching profession, especially those with a mathematics, science and modern languages background, subjects where we particularly require additional teachers.”
Some 34,400 people began teacher training courses in 2004, more than at any time since 1975.
But while Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, welcomed the new entrants, he warned that teaching "bears little relationship to the public perception of short days and long holidays".
"New teachers coming from industry, commerce, or the professions can bring a new perspective and a wider experience into the classroom and are very welcome in the profession," he said.
"But it is crucial that they do not come in with a rosy glow of what teaching is like.
"Children are not all little angels, particularly when they get to secondary school and adolescence is reached."