IIn three days, 26-year-old Kate hopes to meet her dream teacher. Practically, of course. They will talk for 10 minutes during a What’sApp video call and messages will follow. In about two weeks a meeting will take place in real life, then love, and their lives will bend in a magical future in which the evenings between parents and teachers will always triumph for a romantic night but, to mitigate, they will spend long summers beaches kiss the sun without worrying about the world.
This is the theory. The reality is that on Friday July 31, Kate, a teaching assistant, will take part in a speed dating event for education workers. It is the fifth time that she will join the matchmaking session, but she is undeterred: this time she has a good feeling.
In this era of restricted socialization, it’s always very old-fashioned fun, he says. “A guy I met during a phone call had numbered glasses lined up and made me choose one. I got him the vodka (the other glasses contained water) and we had a nice chat: it was an excellent icebreaker. “
Edudate, as the dating service used by Kate gets its name, is the idea of a secondary school history teacher, Tom Rogers. Currently among the contracts, the pandemic has left Rogers with time and, like a 35-year-old singleton with some uncomfortable breaks in his wake, he was aware that being an education professional caused particular tensions when it came to falling in love.
“There are a lot of lone teachers out there,” he says. “And with the pandemic, many are alone most of the time and their only contact is with the children they teach, so they need adult companionship.”
So far, over 1,400 people have signed up for Edudate. The only requirement, Rogers says, is that they work in education. “This doesn’t just mean teachers, although obviously many of our members are. But we also welcome people who work in education administration, school support, universities and colleges. Women are more numerous than men because of the demographics of primary education, but we have more and more men enrolling. “
He says: “Registration is free, although by paying a £ 4 fee you will be given priority for a seat on the dates you give. What happens is that I make all the records and organize people according to their age, orientation and geographic location. ”
So far, at least five couples are in relationships – and include Marina, 25 and Mark, 33 (not their real names). The couple chatted for the first time in Edudate’s third session, May 16. “I immediately felt the chemistry. Mark is fun, warm and intelligent. He’s a science teacher, he’s smart and nerdy, and he’s totally my type of guy, “says Marina.
The two teachers respected the rules on social distancing literally. “On our first date we had a socially spaced picnic. After that we went for walks and it was very strange not to be able to touch. Sometimes it was frustrating, but there was also something old-fashioned – and this seemed a strange paradox since we had met in such a modern way. “
Edudate, says Marina, was the perfect intervention in her love life at the perfect moment. “Because of the coronavirus it was difficult to go out and meet people, and the problem with using a general online dating service and meeting someone who is not a teacher is that it brings frustrations like the fact that you are very busy during the period of time, but take long holidays.
“I didn’t want to go out with someone in my school, but I liked the idea of meeting another teacher: you tend to have the same kind of basic values, which is so important.”
The couple is about to leave on vacation. “Love in a coronavirus period means that we moved quickly,” says Marina. “I also joked with Mark that if we got married, we will have to invite Tom to be our best man.” He is, he says, “very optimistic” about the future and is keeping Edudate informed of developments.
Laura and Alex, 32 and 29 respectively, are another success story. “We met in the Edudate session on June 6,” says Laura. “Just before our video call I wrote to Alex that I was incredibly nervous and from the moment I saw him he put me at ease. He seemed exactly the type of person I was looking for: he is very kind and immediately came across. “
After their chat on WhatsApp, Laura discovered Alex on Twitter – Edudate’s events tend to unfold in a flurry of excitement on social media – and found that she was saying she had had an “extraordinary date” and “fingers crossed for correspondence “.
“Later I asked him if that girl he had an extraordinary date with had matched him – and he admitted it was me,” says Laura. “He will meet my parents this weekend and I am planning to meet him soon.” Like Marina, she claims that Covid-19 has moved the romance faster than it normally would: “The blockade wasn’t bad at all because we were successful.”
Alex, a science teacher, meanwhile, says he had doubts about the wisdom of dating someone who worked in the same field. “I thought teaching was going to be everything we talked about, but it wasn’t – in our first chat we were talking about how things went in bulk, and that it came from the northeast and that’s where my family comes. And the benefits are enormous: we have similar holiday opportunities and understand each other’s stresses and tensions. “
Like Marina and Mark, Alex and Laura plan to spend the summer together.
So what is Rogers’ secret about bringing together members of his profession, and will he use it to find a new partner himself? “It is currently too full,” he says. “This is a hobby for me, not a career, but the date days are very busy and I couldn’t do it if I was trying to hang out with myself.”
It puts its success on its human face. “Many dating services are anonymous, but mine is very accessible and I am a real individual and I am also a teacher,” he says. “I think bringing people together when they have so much in common is a recipe for doing well: people who work in education have similar values, common experiences and the same type of lifestyle, and this increases the possibility that things they work. “
Which explains why Kate’s hopes are high for July 31st. And even if he doesn’t find anyone, he’ll be back next week. Edudate, he says, is a lot of fun. “I usually go to watch rugby and I’m out socializing in clubs,” he says. “And while that’s not possible, dating nights are a great way to spend time, even if it takes a little while to find the perfect partner.”