Our ambassador digital strategy
We've changed as an organisation – what does this mean for our 9,000-strong ambassador community? It means we'll be supporting their amazing work in more focused, efficient and digitally-led ways.
Back when I joined Teach First as a trainee in 2004, there were fewer than 200 of us in London. And no ambassadors whatsoever yet. Sixteen years on, the Teach First ambassador community is over 9,000 strong and growing, and many of you have worked in schools across the UK. We know 60% of you are still in teaching. We also know 40% of you have left the classroom to go on to become leaders in a variety of fields, many still linked to education.
After two years teaching and four years working as a strategy consultant, I joined Teach First HQ in 2010. I’m now Executive Director of the Network Development team. In that time, education in London has improved almost beyond recognition. But nationally the stats still remain shocking. Millions of British children live in poverty. Fewer than half reach the expected levels for English and maths by the end of primary school. On average, a child from a disadvantaged background is 18 months behind when they take their GCSEs. Our role is to support the powerful community of ambassadors, and a growing number of networks, to end this injustice and make education fairer, now.
We’ve made changes to Teach First internally to make sure we’re more focused, efficient and better value for money. This meant reducing the number of staff working directly with ambassadors. As our ambassador community grows larger and larger each year, we knew we had to find a new way to support you. And, as there are so many of you, we knew it had to be digitally led.
As a result the in person interactions with Teach First for many ambassadors will be reduced. There is no longer a dedicated, regional point of contact in England (‘Local Engagement Officers’). We’re also no longer putting on engagement events for ambassadors or offering bespoke career support.
Instead, we’re targeting our support to ambassadors in three areas:
- To our range of school leadership programmes.
- Volunteering with us to support pupils, schools or our wider work.
- Joining or building networks with our support, where you can connect and learn from your peers.
We’re putting our energy into improved digital communications with ambassadors. Instead of trying to get you all to log into the community website (which will soon be closed down), we’ll have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to make sure our ambassadors feel connected and supported by Teach First and can connect to each other.
You’ve been key in shaping this. Over 1,400 of you answered our recent survey, telling us about your social media habits. We learnt that 96% of you use Whatsapp on a daily basis. But you told us that hearing from Teach First on this platform could be annoying. Some of our ambassador Networks do find Whatsapp very useful to chat to each other. But you won’t get mass communications from Teach First HQ this way.
Your next most popular social media platform was Facebook (65% of you use it daily). So, later this autumn we’re launching a new Facebook group called “Teach First ambassadors – Connect and Get Involved!” This group will be for all ambassadors to connect with one another. You’ll be able to help each other, help support schools and the wider Teach First purpose of building a fair education for all. We’ll share volunteering opportunities, from low to high commitment, depending on how much time you’ve got to give.
Instagram was your third most popular social media platform. But many of you told us you weren’t keen to consume Teach First content here. And a lot of what we’ve got to say to you isn’t always going to be very visual. So we’re not planning to have a dedicated Ambassador account here. But you can still follow the main @teachfirstuk account.
Twitter was up next. Our teaching ambassadors told us that Twitter would be the ideal place to share education and pedagogy-focused content. As many of you know, there is a thriving and supportive teacher community on Twitter.
Rather than start a new twitter feed from scratch, we have decided to rebrand the Teach First President feed. We’ll build on the fantastic followers that Mark Holmes has built up, many of whom are ambassadors, or who will have an interest in the content we’ll be sharing with you here.
The @TF_Ambassadors account will be aimed primarily at our ambassadors still in teaching and the world of education. We’ll share opportunities for you and your school; teaching insights into best practice, latest education policy and research; information about our growing number of teacher networks which you can join, as well as inspiring stories from our ambassadors.
If you’re a trainee following this feed, we hope you continue to find it interesting. The ambassador community has so much relevant experience to share, so do tap into it!
Lastly, what about LinkedIn? You were clear that LinkedIn is used much more frequently by our ambassadors no longer in teaching. It’s also the place where non-teaching ambassadors told us you’d like to hear from Teach First. So do follow the main Teach First charity page on LinkedIn. We’re going to start posting more ambassador content on here very soon. For example, stories about how Ambassadors in different industries are continuing to support schools, and insights into leadership lessons learnt in the classroom that have relevance in the workplace. We hope you’ll be proud to share these stories with your professional networks and feel inspired to get involved by reading about all that’s happening in the community.
If you’ve left teaching, you might also like to join the “Ambassadors in Business – Teach First” LinkedIn group. Of our ambassadors who leave teaching, 5% of you end up working for the Big Four consultancies, making this the biggest industry after teaching.
Finally, if you don’t use social media much, don’t worry, we’ll continue to send out the monthly ambassador bulletins by email. We’re also relaunching the Teach First website today, which will give you all the info you need as an ambassador – how to develop your career with Teach First, and how to stay in touch.
There is so much brilliant work happening in the ambassador community. We hope that with our new digital strategy, we’ll be able to share what’s happening with you all more effectively, on the platforms where you spend the most time.
We want you to feel inspired to continue working towards building a fair education for all children, in whatever way you can. And we’d love you to share your stories to help inspire other ambassadors. So get in touch, email us. We have a team member dedicated to answering all your questions that come in to us. And if there’s anything you want to blog about, any insights you want to share, any volunteering experience you want to talk about, let us know.
Wishing you all a restful summer.
Executive Director, Network Development Team (’04 Ambassador)