Teach First is currently best known for its Leadership Development Programme, which selects top graduates to teach in schools where a high proportion of children come from the poorest backgrounds.
Since 2003, when the programme launched, it’s scaled considerably. The first cohort consisted of 186 graduates teaching in 45 secondary schools in London. By 2013, more than 1200 graduates enrolled as participants, making Teach First the largest graduate recruiter in the UK.
While Teach First’s focus is in the UK, the model is being shared internationally through the Teach for All network, and there are over 30 countries adopting and adapting the model.
Teach First’s tenth birthday in 2012 coincided with a period of reflection. In response, Teach First clarified its aims by articulating five ‘Fair Education Impact Goals’, which set hard targets around reducing educational inequality in the UK.
"We took a step back and asked if just recruiting great people as teachers would really tackle educational disadvantage – and the answer is no, we can’t do it all ourselves”
Nigel Ball, Teach First’s Associate Director for Innovation
This reflected a shift in strategy. The Leadership Development Programme is still at the heart of Teach First, but the organisation has started to expand its range of activities and work in partnership with others in order to better achieve its impact goals.
One example is the Higher Education Access Programme for Schools (HEAPS), which aims to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get into Russell Group universities.
Another new initiative is the Teach First Innovation Unit. Set up in 2013, the Innovation Unit supports social entrepreneurs to develop and grow social ventures that address Teach First’s Fair Education Impact Goals.
Teach First is continuing to explore new avenues that will deepen its impact while fitting with its core competencies.
Image: Pupils attending Hackney Pirates, a Teach First ambassador founded social enterprise supporting Hackney pupils with their literacy.