Portrait photo of Chloe Cawthorne
Chloe Cawthorne
Network Connector
Ambassador cohort
2012

We’ll help you build networks that make a difference

"Networks" seems to be the buzzword at the moment in education, with organisations trying to create their own. Even if it sometimes risks descending into cliché, the word still describes something with a lot of potential to create change.

I think it’s fair to say that the success and rise of grassroots teacher networks such as #WomenEd have made people sit back and wonder if there is another way to do things. Can people with a good idea really change education? Is the power finally shifting from those in policy to those in the classroom? And if so, is there anything organisations like Teach First can do to give them a platform or broaden their reach?

People need people

When you research why people leave teaching, you often hear the same story. Teachers who feel isolated and not supported are likely to leave. Lack of information flow (rather than lack of good information) is a massive issue in education - there is no mechanism to share knowledge beyond the school gate. Teachers who don’t feel masterful often leave. These are just a few reasons. We know there is a lot of research out there, but what is clear is, people need people. People when they come together, work together and have a mechanism to do so, are going to be happier, better teachers. 

And we all know it’s not just the job of those in teaching to support our schools, teachers and pupils to succeed. People from all sectors can add value by being volunteers, coaches, mentors, governors and sometimes just an extra pair of hands. There’s a role for everyone! 

Networks are a force for change

That’s where networks come into play. “Network” isn’t a dirty word. It sometimes gets a bad rep, with connotations of “a bunch of people coming together to schmooze and get a promotion.” But from our experience at Teach First, we really believe that networks can be a force for change. 

Networks are about bringing people together who care about the same thing. We’re working to make education fair for all. So we’ll offer bespoke support to networks that are working to one or more of our three outcomes: 

  • Getting more great teachers in the schools where they’re needed most 
  • Supporting school leadership so our teachers and pupils thrive 
  • Supporting schools with strong networks and a positive policy environment 

We have some great examples already of networks making changes in education:

  • LGBTed is helping shape policy and supporting more LGBT teachers into Senior Leadership. 
  • The Shared Headship Network is matching future headteachers together to apply for co-headship roles, actively tackling the retention and recruitment crisis in England. 
  • MFL London have reached hundreds of Modern Foreign Languages teacher to support their development by sharing best practice. 
  • The Teach First Civil Service Network is raising awareness of Social Mobility in government departments. 
  • The Innovation Community, who run social enterprises, are sharing best practice and supporting each other to support schools, pupils and families better.

What support can we offer Networks?

One of the things we do is to help people transform their good idea, to a clear, tangible outcome for all teachers, school leaders and community members. We know that our trainees and ambassadors already have a lot going on, so our Network Development team offers you a range of support to bring your ideas to life. We’ll give you a point person who can help with:

  • marketing
  • event planning
  • budgeting
  • sponsorship
  • long-term sustainability plans.

We tailor our support to your needs to help your network grow and be a success. We’ll work behind the scenes while you focus on the great ideas and getting the right people in the room. We know that if we do, we’ll be closer towards building a fair education for all. 

Our Networks are open to all in education

Teach First has trained teachers for sixteen years. We now have over 9000 ambassadors and our community is our biggest asset. Our teachers, leaders, policy makers and business partners are talented, knowledgeable and aware of what needs to change in education. But we also know that if we really want to build a fair education for all, we need to work together with the wider education community and their vast array of experience and expertise. So we don’t just support trainees and ambassadors to form networks. We’ll work with any school or any teacher from any training route who wants to form a network that aims to address educational inequality. We believe networks benefit from being diverse and we want to ensure ours are filled with the amazing variety of skills, identities and talents out there. 

We’d love to work with more of you, so if you have an idea about how bringing people together can contribute towards building a fair education for all, let us know. We’re ready!

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