Image of Russel Hobby
Russell Hobby
Teach First Chief Executive

A new way into teaching

Teach First CEO Russell Hobby explains why we're exploring a new route into teaching.

Across the country, teacher shortages are biting hard. Data from the Department for Education shows unfilled teacher vacancies are at a record high.

And last year nearly 40,000 teachers left the sector. And it is children in low-income communities who are missing out the most.

We desperately need more teachers and leaders in schools.

Which is why we’re exploring a new route into teaching – a rigorous degree apprenticeship with academic standards at its heart that helps get more talented teachers into the schools most in need.

Childhoods are at risk

Life is getting tougher for children. 

As the pandemic abated, the cost-of-living crisis kicked-in, setting childhoods back further. 

That looks like more pupils routinely arriving at school on an empty stomach – too hungry to learn.    

That looks like nearly nine in ten schools providing uniforms to pupils.

That looks like teachers not sure who is coming into school next week as more and more families lack a stable place to live.

Life is getting tougher for children. Schools are stepping in as the emergency service when other services fall away.
And the stakes for young people have never been higher. The bar for getting into secure jobs is rising.

Yet more than half of young people growing up poor are leaving school without the basic GCSEs to get on the first step of the career ladder.

Dreams unfulfilled

They’re locked out before they even start. And it’s holding our country back. Potential untapped means we’re going without doctors, engineers, artists and architects. 

We cannot afford to let this continue. 
Teachers hold vital keys to changing our future.   

But many schools are struggling. 

We’re proud to be increasing the number of secondary school teachers we’re training. 

Ofsted have rated our Training Programme outstanding and we’ve consistently been rated highly by graduates in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers list. 

Independent evaluation shows that pupils in schools supported by Teach First are getting better grades, are more likely to go to university and are more likely to be in education, employment or training long term. 

But it’s not enough.  

Finding inspiring teachers

We've had record numbers of requests from school leaders for our trainees.

As a country we must get many more talented people starting careers in schools and progressing to leadership roles. 

Encouraging the brightest minds to join Teach First instead of lucrative careers elsewhere was never an easy proposition, but we rose to the challenge. 

Training top graduates with the potential to lead from day one will always be part of our story. As will forging them into an influential community of ambassadors inside and outside schools. More than 16,000 people have joined us so far and they’re 12 times more likely than their peers to be in leadership jobs just three years in.

However, showing that potential and meeting the entry requirements to teach is contingent on having already gained a degree. 

Knocking down barriers to teaching

Teaching is a great job available in every single community. But access to university isn’t as widely spread. 

We want to remove that barrier. Go a step earlier and open up the profession to bright minds who don’t have the means to go to university.

Not everyone is comfortable with taking on the debt and many need to earn a salary as they study.

That’s why we’re exploring what it would take to develop people with the potential to be the school leaders of the future through a rigorous apprenticeship route where they gain a degree along the way.

This would be a well-supported and longer journey to becoming a fully qualified teacher, with high standards and academic rigour at its heart. 

This is just the start of an exciting journey where we will be consulting with teachers and leaders across education, business and politics.

We asked parents and young people what they thought

78% of parents said they supported a proposal for people to become teachers via a high-quality apprenticeship where they gain a degree.

40% of young people aged 11 to 16 said they would be interested in a paid apprenticeship where they gain a degree to become a teacher.

Demand for degree apprenticeship options amongst young people is growing, but in many locations few are available.

Our origins lie in disrupting the education system with ideas that people said would never be achievable. Those schools that we first worked in are now some of the best in the country, where young people go on to exciting careers and futures.

We’re proud to be part of that story and we’re ready to disrupt the system again.

This route, alongside our traditional Training Programme route, could give us increased independence, financial sustainability and the ability to reach many more young people.

We’re adapting as we get ready for the future.

Imagine what this country could be like if every child had the teachers they need to unleash their potential. This initiative might just be an important step towards that ambition.

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