Teach First CEO and Participant President named as two of London’s most influential people in Education
Brett Wigdortz and James Townsend enter Evening Standard’s 1000 most influential Londoners list
09 November 2011
The CEO and Founder of charity Teach First, Brett Wigdortz, has been named as one of London’s most influential figures in education in the Evening Standard’s annual ‘1000’ list. James Townsend, who was elected as Participant President for 2011 by over 1000 Teach First teachers, was also listed.
Each year London’s most popular daily newspaper publishes its guide to the city's most important pioneers in their field, listing achievers from the worlds of finance and politics to the arts, education and sport.
Brett and James appear alongside Sir Michael Wilshaw, the newly appointed Chief Inspector at Ofsted, Justine Roberts, founder of online parent forum Mumsnet and Minister for Schools Nick Gibb, among others, in the education list.
Outlining their reasons for the listing, the Evening Standard wrote:
“Wigdortz came up with the idea of Teach First while working as a management consultant for McKinsey, launching it during a six-month sabbatical in 2002 and never looking back. More than 2,000 top graduates have been placed as teachers in deprived schools since then thanks to US-born Wigdortz. Townsend represents the views of more than 1,000 Teach First teachers across the country. He believes change on the scale of the civil rights movement is required to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment.”
Founded by Brett in 2003, Teach First works to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment, by placing outstanding graduates to teach in schools in challenging circumstances. Through its unique two-year Leadership Development Programme the charity is creating a movement of leaders who make a lifelong commitment to raising the achievement, aspirations and access to opportunity of children from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Teach First’s first cohort of around 160 participants in 2003 all taught in London schools. Since then the charity has grown to operate in six regions across England, with over 760 participants in the 2011 cohort. There are currently over 1220 Teach First teachers working in London – 668 are currently on the Leadership Development Programme working in 140 of the charity’s partner schools across London. There are also 561 ambassadors, those who have completed the two years, teaching in the city’s schools.
Responding to the publication of the Evening Standard’s ‘1000’ list for 2011, Brett Wigdortz said:
“I am thrilled to be named as one of London’s most influential people by the Evening Standard this year. For me, the most influential people are our thousands of teachers and their colleagues who day in and day out make an impact on the lives of young people.
“Teach First began in London nine years ago and it is still our largest region. We partner with 36% of eligible schools, with over 1220 teachers working to raise achievement, access to opportunities and aspirations in over 140 schools in challenging circumstances across the city.
“In London, on average, 42% of pupils on free school meals achieve 5 A* to C grades at GCSE, compared to 62% of pupils who aren’t on free school meals – a gap of 20%. This situation cannot continue and as we head towards Teach First’s 10th Anniversary next year we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to ensure that one day every child in London, and the rest of the UK, can succeed in education regardless of their socio-economic background.”
James Townsend said:
“I am hugely excited to hear that Teach First has been recognised in the Evening Standard’s 1000 list this year. Having worked in a school in challenging circumstances myself for the past two years, I have seen first-hand the positive impact that inspirational teachers can have on their pupils and am honoured to represent the Teach First participants this year.
“But Teach First cannot break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment alone - businesses, government, parents, schools and charities like Teach First must continue to pull together to work to address this injustice in our society.”
- Ends -
Notes To Editors
Notes to editors
For media enquiries please contact Hannah McCullagh on 0203 117 2469 or 07739 147 841 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Teach First
Teach First is an independent charity working to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment which is greater in the UK than in almost any other developed country. The scale of change needed is so great that it requires a movement of leaders to make a difference at a pupil, school and system level. Teach First is working towards achieving its mission by enabling its participants and ambassadors in the classroom to raise the achievement, aspiration, and access to opportunity of children from low socio-economic backgrounds, whilst developing a network of leaders with a life-long commitment to ending inequality in education from both inside and outside the classroom.
Since launching in 2002, Teach First has recruited and trained increasing numbers of participants – more than 757 new participants began their teacher careers in September – and is working to place 1140 graduates per year by 2013, which would make it the largest graduate recruiter in the UK.
Teach First operates in six regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West and the North East.
The charity has expanded to work in the primary sector with the first cohort of 84 Teach First primary teachers entering classrooms in September in London, the East and West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire & the Humber.
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 2010, Teach First was ranked 7th 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 over 5,000 in 2011.
Teach First primary schools must have more than 50% of their pupils living in the lowest 30% of the IDACI*, prioritising those schools with higher levels of deprivation.
Teach First secondary 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;
*Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index.
Follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/TeachFirst