Portrait of Jonathan Dando.
Jonathan Dando
Director of Marketing and Communications, Teach First

We’re changing. Why?

We’re making changes to how we present and talk about ourselves. Why? Because what we do, and how we do it, has changed. 

We’ve changed as an organisation.

We’ve achieved a lot since we started in 2002. We want to build on that, but now is also the time to do some things differently. 

Last year we launched a five-year strategy to build a fair education for all. You can read it here. 

Our main training programme remains at our heart – attracting talented people, many who won’t have thought about teaching. They train in schools working hard to tackle inequality. We’ll support them to keep developing as they become ‘ambassadors’ (our alumni), and celebrate this thriving community as they work together to do great things.

A range of programmes

Over the last 16 years, we’ve become experts at developing teachers and leaders. We’ve used this knowledge to create a range of other programmes.

Schools succeed, and teachers are more likely to stay and thrive, when they’re supported by great leaders. So we now offer a whole range of school leadership programmes. They’re open to all teachers in our partner schools (not just our alumni).

And last year we launched Reconnect with Teaching – personalised help for any qualified teacher who wants to return to the classroom. 

Supporting schools facing the biggest challenges

We do all of this to support the incredible work schools do each day. But we’re not here for every school. We’re here for those who support the communities facing the biggest barriers, and the children most disadvantaged. 

Which is why we also build networks that help schools, teachers and our ambassadors connect and learn from each other. We want these schools to get access to their fair share of resources. Our networks help – from headteachers sharing expertise, to schools getting pupil work experience opportunities via our ambassadors. 

There are things that need to change at a national level, too. Our ambassadors help influence this, and we’ll also be arguing for policies that make these schools’ lives easier.

Communicating the change

You can see how we’ve changed. From a charity that ran a single training route, to one that delivers a range of activities to support schools. But it wasn’t clear to everyone. And we didn’t always get everything right in our communications: 

  • Many loved us, others found us arrogant
  • Going from fresh upstart to established player, we lost our shine
  • We struggled to explain ourselves – often falling into the trap of jargon
  • Recruiting teachers and competing for charity funding became harder

How does all this affect our brand and our name?

Our new brand lets us be bolder in what we stand for, promote all our work simply, and show we’re here to get behind the schools tackling the biggest challenges. 

You’ll notice we’re keeping the name Teach First. We thought carefully about this.

There were benefits to changing it. Some people think it means ‘teach first, then do something else’. That isn’t the case, so if we were starting again we’d choose a different name. 

But there are good reasons to keep it. 

It’s known by graduates, schools and our ambassadors. Many connect it to the quality of, and commitment to, our work. And changing it would be costly.

Making sense of our work

We’re going to be clearer on all that we do. We’ll have three distinct areas: 

  • Teacher Development – all our work to attract and train new and early-stage teachers
  • School Leadership – our programmes supporting teachers and teams to lead schools
  • Networks – connecting schools and our ambassadors to each other, to experts and to supporters

We see these as the building blocks of a fair education for all.  Our new logo reflects this – it’s made up of a series of building blocks that you will see throughout all our communications.

The words we use

We’ve changed our language, too. We want to be crystal clear. Our main teacher training will be known as the Teach First Training Programme. And those on it will be trainees (not participants). Our Careers and Employability Leadership Programme is now simply called Careers Leader. 

You can help us out. If you spot us slipping into a complex muddle, email our dedicated hotline: jargonbin@teachfirst.org.uk.

There’s an urgency to our work but teaching and children can also be fun, and it’s an important part of what many teachers love about their job. We want that playfulness and energy to come through. 

Lastly, we needed a simple way to describe what we’re about and what we do. We’ve summed it up like this: 

Great teachers.
Brilliant leaders. 
Thriving schools.
Building a fair education for all. 
We hope our new brand better reflects the Teach First of today and tomorrow. Most of all we hope it helps us support schools as they unlock the potential in all our children, not just some. 

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