In defence of Teach First

Teach First respond to criticisms of their graduate opportunities

After attending a Teach First information evening last term on campus, I instantly knew I had to apply for the Leadership Development Programme. The information evening provided the opportunity to talk to Teach First ambassadors and learn about the application process. It has been a passion of mine for a number of years to become a secondary school teacher and I have always been open to the different routes into teaching, however the Teach First scheme seemed to feature everything I would want and appeared to be an ideal way to gain my teaching qualification, whilst making an positive impact on disadvantaged pupils, who are often overlooked by teachers who choose other teaching routes.

After researching the work that the charity carried out and carefully understanding the process of becoming a teacher through the Leadership Development Programme, I began my application. Naturally, I was worried and nervous about the application process, especially being a second year student. However, from stage one I felt valued and respected and received such a great level of support and assistance from the graduate recruiter at York. After submitting my online application, I eagerly awaited a response to see if I was invited to the assessment centre. After an impressively short period of time I received an email notifying me that my online application had been successful and was given a date to attend the assessment centre in London. I remember feeling so excited. Truthfully the excitement slowly turned to nerves.

When the day came, it was a cold December morning and I felt such a buzz of energy walking to the assessment centre in the busy London rush hour. The assessment day was rigorous and challenging, but surely that’s how the company recruit the best teachers to be leaders across society? I thoroughly enjoyed the day and felt like I had the opportunity to demonstrate to the assessors how much I wanted a career in teaching and to have a profound effect in challenging schools. Teach First used a range of assessment tasks that were centred around their wide range of competencies. The following day after my assessment centre I received an offer from Teach First. I was so excited that such a profound company had seen my potential to become a successful leader.

I was angered and surprised to receive a phone call from Teach First informing me that my name had been used in a recent article, ‘Teach First scheme flawed’ which used incorrect statistics and statements. It was disheartening to read the article which attempted to create a negative impression of such an influential charity, and was evident that they had never had any experience with the organisation, and centred their article around myths.

I can only speak highly of the graduate scheme offered by Teach First. Teach First recruited from 102 universities in the UK during the 2012/2013 season, so I really do not feel that describing the scheme as a ‘foreign outlet for the guilt of social privilege and the bright eyes bushy tailed Oxbridge graduates’ is a genuine remark. All applicants are treated fairly, from the beginning of the online process as assessment screeners are unaware of the university which the candidate attended.

Teach First has a number of links and partnerships with a variety of different organisations across industry who provide sponsorship and support. The recent article implied that the scheme is used as a filtering system to allow successful graduates of the programme to gain placements with corporations such as PwC and Goldman Sachs. It was naive to comment on this as participants commit to two years of teaching in schools in challenging circumstances and around two thirds stay in the classroom for a third year. Many ambassadors remain in the classroom, and a large percentage go on and tackle the education system as a whole, with 70% of ambassadors remaining working in education.

My hands on experience with Teach First showed me that real leaders with real potential are selected to make a difference in education, and if people want the best for our next generation I truly believe that Teach First is a great way to address the inequality that exists in the UK.


  1. Excellent article, giving a real inside perspective to Teach First.

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  2. Better than the other teach first article…

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