The VSO needs you!

Posted on: 12 August 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring

Calling all retired primary teachers and education managers

Volunteering over 50

If retirement for you means a pipe and slippers then don’t bother reading on – if on the other hand you see your retirement as a chance to explore the world, have fulfilling experiences and have a crack at a gap year, then this might be right up your street!

Retired primary school teachers and education managers across the UK are being urged to take up a new challenge in what could be their most demanding but rewarding retirement move yet.  The international development charity VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) has launched its recruitment campaign and requires retirees up to the age of 75 who have previously worked in education to volunteer in some of the world’s poorest countries.

VSO volunteers are provided with full training, flights, accommodation and an allowance to cover basic costs and you can choose between a 12 month and 2 year post.  Unlike many UK-based volunteering organisations, VSO does not charge individuals to volunteer and its recruitment policy is based on matching the right professionals with the correct skills and qualities rather than on the ability to pay or their age. 


Taking up the VSO challenge will mean working within schools, colleges or ministries of education to help tens of thousands of children get a better start in life, by improving the quality of education and teaching practice in countries ranging from Cameroon to Nepal, Ethiopia to Uganda.

The charity urgently needs to recruit 50 individuals who have worked as primary school teachers or education managers during their career, who can start vital volunteering posts in January 2012.  

VSO also needs to enlist a further 100 volunteers with the same background for challenging and rewarding positions throughout 2012 which will help make a difference to children’s lives and help fight poverty and disadvantage. 

Case Study

Wendy Nicolson from London is retired and worked for 38 years in the UK, teaching nursery up to year six pupils and was a deputy head.  She recently returned from volunteering with the VSO in the role of an early year’s adviser in Nepal for two years.  

She told us: “Volunteering with VSO was something I always wanted to do.  After retiring, and with some prompting from my daughter, I finally did!  I found it an exciting, life-changing experience and a real eye opener.  They’ve only had education for the general public for about 60 years, so there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of their teaching skills.    

“However through VSO’s concerted efforts through each and every volunteer – we’re sharing our skills, changing their lives and making a difference.  It’s an amazing experience.  If you’re thinking of volunteering with VSO then you’re half way there!  Go for it.  To work with like-minded colleagues who want to make a difference,  make things better and who are so keen to learn is just amazing.”

Why should you apply?

  • VSO pays your flights and accomodation and provides a living wage - so it won't cost you anything.
  • The average initial application takes just 20 minutes to complete!
  • It's the opportunity of a lifetime, for you and for the children you'll end up helping!

For further information about educational volunteering placements, please visit 

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