University of Manchester research identifies link between Teach First and improved GCSE results
School attainment levels increase after partnering with education charity
15 November 2010
External research has found that schools in challenging circumstances which employ Teach First teachers have seen a statistically significant improvement in their GCSE results.
Conducted over two years by academics from the University of Manchester, the research also found that the more Teach First teachers were placed in a schools, the bigger the improvement.
Called the Maximum Impact Evaluation, the research is the final stage of a three year
Maximum Impact Programme, funded by Goldman Sachs. The Programme's remit was
to measure and improve the development and impact of Teach First teachers in
schools and, in doing so, improve the life chances of pupils from disadvantaged
Teach First trains exceptional graduates, who would not normally consider a career in teaching, to work in schools in the most deprived areas of the country. After completing the mandatory two years in the classroom these Ambassadors, 60% of whom remain in education, are mobilised, equipped and inspired to address educational disadvantage at a systemic level as leaders in education and other fields.
The evaluation research, which involved 174 schools, 87 Teach First and 87* comparable non Teach First schools, and 848 secondary school teachers from across England, focused on the impact of Teach First teachers on schools, classroom practice, leadership and pupil achievement.
Researchers used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to provide breadth and depth to their analysis. Survey questionnaires, face-to-face interviews and analysis of documentary and performance data provided a warts and all dissection of the impact of Teach First teachers.
The main findings of the research included:
- A significant correlation between participation in Teach First and improved pupil achievement, which appears one to two years following the first year of partnership with the school
- A positive relationship between the number of Teach First teachers in a school and pupil achievement at Key Stage 4, with schools with more Teach First teachers performing better than those with fewer Teach First teachers
- Observations that the teaching practices of Teach First teachers in their first year are good to excellent – in international comparisons they were generally on a par with or ahead of more experienced teachers
- Other teaching staff describe Teach First teachers as creative, enthusiastic and prepared to listen and learn from others
- Where significant, partnering with Teach First explains between 20% and 40% of the between-school variance in pupil performance at GCSE. This difference – the researchers estimate – equates to approximately a third of a GCSE per pupil per subject
- Compelling evidence from a range of evaluation routes that, when combined, show that Teach First teachers have a positive impact in schools
- Evidence that the positive effect Teach First is having on achievement has strengthened over time suggesting that the Leadership Development Programme is becoming more effective
The Maximum Impact Programme has already led to a number of innovations that are contributing to the greater classroom effectiveness of Teach First teachers. Chief among them is the establishment of a team of Leadership Development Officers; former teachers who work with second year Teach First teachers and their schools to set and achieve ambitious visions for pupil success.
Going beyond purely academic goals the pupil visions are designed to take a holistic approach to pupil progress and focus on the three 'A's of Achievement, by setting and realising ambitious academic goals; Access, by providing high quality teaching and signposting life opportunities that will develop the pupil and; Aspiration, by bolstering pupil aspirations through maintaining high expectations of what they can achieve.
Leadership Development Officers also work directly with Teach First teachers to identify areas for development and coach them on how to implement solutions that will allow them to move their pupils more rapidly towards achieving the vision.
Teach First founder and CEO Brett Wigdortz said: "The aim of the research was to find out what we are doing well and what we could do better to enhance the impact of Teach First teachers. When it became clear that our teachers would benefit from increased specialised support we created the Leadership Development Officer role to bridge an important gap highlighted by the evaluation. We are committed to continually improving our programme to ensure our teachers are equipped to transform the life chances of pupils affected by educational disadvantage.
"Teach First's belief is that with a dedicated and focused classroom leader all pupils can realise academic success. The Maximum Impact Programme has helped us develop a model of effective teaching which will help raise educational standards in all our schools."
Notes To Editors
For media enquiries please contact Garfield Myrie in the Teach First press office on: 0203 117 2378 or 07866 436 014. Email: email@example.com or Abigail Page on 0203 117 2469 or 07711 780 797 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Manchester researchers employed a mixed method approach to their evaluation to ensure the collection of rigorous data on performance. The following methods were used: Survey questionnaires; face-to-face interviews; analysis of documentary data; analysis of performance data. Quantitative data from surveys, existing datasets and classroom observation were used to measure outcomes, while qualitative data from case studies and interviews were used to develop deeper understandings of processes and facilitators and barriers to success. While quantitative methods allowed researchers to look at the impact of the project on teaching quality, leadership capacity in the school and pupil achievement, qualitative methods, such as interviews of Teach First teachers, managers and colleagues in the school helped researchers look at ways of improving these outcomes.
The former lead researcher from the University of Manchester team, Professor Daniel Mujis, is currently Chair of Education at the University of Southampton.
Teach First graduates are placed in secondary schools in challenging circumstances in England to teach for at least two years. For the years this report refers to 2008-2010 'challenging circumstances' was defined as schools where less than 25% of pupils achieved five GCSE at grades A* - C (including English and maths) and/or where at least where at least 30% of the pupils were eligible for free school meals. Teach First updated its schools eligibility criteria in 2010.
*Comparable schools were defined as being statistically similar to Teach First schools and matched according to the following:
- Gender intake
- Performance levels
- Pupil intake characteristics (special education need and free school meal %)
- School size
Teach First is a national independent education charity that works to address educational disadvantage by transforming exceptional graduates into effective, inspirational teachers and leaders in all fields. Teach First targets high calibre, motivated graduates who would not normally consider a career in teaching and works to place them in challenging schools while supporting them to become innovative, high impact teachers.
In order to become a partner of Teach First and employ a Teach First teacher, each school must meet certain criteria. Teach First schools must have one of the following:
- A first criterion based on the IDACI* - Teach First works in schools that have more than 50% of their pupils living in the lowest 30% of the IDACI, prioritising those schools with higher levels of deprivation;
- A second criterion based on attainment - Teach First prioritises schools with low attainment in regards to the 5+ A*-C (English & maths) GCSE measure. Teach First works in schools whose results fall below the lowest 30% of the national distribution;
- Teach First also works in schools that have a Challenge status: either National Challenge or City Challenge.
Since launching in 2002, Teach First has recruited and trained increasing numbers of participants – 560 entered the programme in June 2010, more than double the 265 in 2005 – and is working to place 1140 graduates per year by 2013. Teach First has developed an ambassador community (alumni) of over 1,100 working to improve educational, and life, outcomes for hundreds of thousands of children. It is anticipated that this community will grow to around 1,500 in the next academic year.
Teach First is raising the quality and profile of the teaching profession and has made teaching in a challenging school one of the most prestigious options for top graduates. In 2009, Teach First was ranked 8th in the coveted league of Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. Interest in the programme continues to grow amongst top graduates, with the number of applicants rising from 3,000 in 2009 to around 5,000 in 2010.
For more information, visit www.teachfirst.org.uk