Pupil raising his hand in a classroom taught by a Teach First teacher



On this page, you can find answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about Teach First. If you would like to get in touch, please visit our contact us page

Applying to Teach First

What is Teach First?

We are an education charity working with others to give every child the right to a decent education. Since 2002 thousands of individuals have joined the Teach First Leadership Development Programme (LDP) in schools across England and Wales and helped change the lives of thousands of young people in low-income communities. 

The LDP is a programme encompassing high-quality teacher and leadership training, supportive coaching, work experience and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership qualification (worth double the credits of a PGCE). The knowledge and skills gained can be taken forward into any career. That’s why many businesses recognise our programme’s ability to effect change and develop leaders for the future. Put simply, they know that graduates who can engage, stimulate and inspire in the classroom can handle pretty much any situation in any organisation. 

Your LDP is a two-year commitment, but we want it to be the foundation of a life-long engagement with our work to ensure every young person has an education they can be proud of. As well as training inspirational teachers in the classroom, we support our network of ambassadors – those who have completed the LDP - to drive forward change in education in influential leadership positions in education, business and beyond. 

Some people join us knowing they want to stay in education; some are sure that they don’t; and others are uncertain about their plans. All of them find the experience of our Leadership Development Programme to be powerful, rewarding and enlightening. And all are changed by it.  

Apply now for the 2019 cohort. Education has the power to transform lives. So do you. 

Are you open for applications/when is the deadline?

We are open for applications to join the Leadership Development Programme in 2019 now. We fill our vacancies as soon as we find strong candidates who meet our competency and academic requirements, so we recommend you apply as soon as possible. Find out more and apply now.

How do I apply

If you are interested in joining our Leadership Development Programme, then please visit our the about programme pages, then you can start an online application.

Can I apply for a deferred placement?

In most cases, applications to defer will only be considered in the following circumstances: 
You are a penultimate year student; or 
If significant extenuating circumstances have arisen post application. 
Our deferral policy is subject to the needs of our schools. Please speak to your Recruitment Officer for further information.

Can I apply when I’m in my first year of university?

Candidates still at university will need to be in either the penultimate year or final year in order to be eligible to apply for the Leadership Development Programme. If you are still in your first year, you will not be eligible to apply at this stage. 
If you’re not yet in your penultimate or final year of study there are still a number of ways you can get involved with Teach First. Please speak to your Recruitment Officer or head to our "Opportunities at university" pages for further information.

Can I apply before my final year?

The majority of our applicants apply when they are in their final year of university or after they have graduated. However, you are able to apply in your penultimate year of university with a view to defer until you finish university.

I’ve decided to change career and retrain as a teacher. Can I apply?

Yes, as long as you meet our criteria, we welcome applicants at all stages in their careers. We are looking for applicants who can bring our core values to the classroom, and teachers with experience of the work place make excellent role models and leaders.

Does Teach First offer a reserve system if what I want to teach is full?

No; should a curriculum area you are eligible to teach have reached capacity for one cohort’s intake and you are eligible to teach something else, we will make you an offer for the curriculum area where we still have availability/need.

What are the minimum academic requirements? If I don’t meet them, can I still apply?

To be eligible for the Leadership Development Programme, we look for the following: 
2.1 degree or above (2.2 degrees will also be considered)  
A degree or A-levels that satisfy our teaching requirements 
Grade C (or equivalent) in GCSE Maths and English (Grade C in one science GCSE is also required for primary teaching) 
However, all applications are looked at on a case-by-case basis so if you feel you have other attributes that contribute to your application but do not fall within the above criteria then we would urge you to apply and outline these attributes on the application form. 
Unfortunately, we cannot be flexible with our GCSE requirements as these are determined by the Department for Education.

More information on our requirements can be found here.

I have Scottish qualifications. Are they considered equivalent to A-levels?

Yes, Scottish Advanced Higher qualifications are considered equivalent to our A-level requirements: 

  1. An Advanced Higher grade A is considered equivalent to an A-level grade A*/A 

  1. An Advanced Higher grade B is considered equivalent to an A-level grade B

I have Irish qualifications. Are they considered equivalent to A-levels?

Yes, if it is the Irish Higher Leaving Certificate with an A1 grade. We can accept an A1 grade at Higher Leaving Certificate in a relevant National Curriculum-aligned subject (two in the case of Science/Primary).

I did the International Baccalaureate. Are they considered equivalent to A-levels?

Yes, IB qualifications are considered equivalent to our A-level requirements: 

  1. A grade 7 is considered equivalent to an A-level grade A*/A 

  1. A grade 6 is considered equivalent to a an A-level grade B

Do I need any specific experience before applying to the programme?

You don't need to have any specific teaching experience before applying to the programme. Selection is based on your academic qualifications as well as the ability to demonstrate our competencies and values.

Can I apply with a 2.2 degree classification?

We not only assess academic performance during the application, but we also take into account the context in which any qualifications have been earned - as such, 2.2 degrees will also be considered. If you do not fall within the criteria but feel you have other attributes that contribute to your application then we would urge you to apply and outline these attributes on the application form. Please also note any extenuating circumstances on the application form.

Can I use my Master’s degree as eligibility to teach?

We are able to accept applications from postgraduates, but in order to apply for the Leadership Development Programme you are also required to have an undergraduate degree. We cannot determine what you will be allocated to teach based on your postgraduate (Master’s) degree. 

Please see below for our list of requirements when applying for the Teach First programme: 

2.1 degree or above (2.2 degrees will also be considered)  

Have a degree or A-levels that satisfy our teaching requirements 

Grade C (or equivalent) in GCSE Maths and English (Grade C in one science GCSE is also required for primary teaching) 

If you feel you meet these requirements, please complete an online application.

Can I apply if I have already been accepted for a PGCE?

No, if you have accepted a place on the PGCE course this year then you are not able to apply for the Leadership Development Programme. 

Please refer to the Department for Education for more information on the different routes into teaching

Can I apply if I already have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)?

No, we can only accept candidates who do not already have QTS or a Postgraduate/Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). 

In the first year, participants undertake an 80% teaching commitment in school, during which they are supported by Teach First, our partner universities and school mentors in training to achieve QTS at the end of the year.

Can I apply if I have trained overseas?

In the UK the government subsidises teacher training so we unfortunately cannot train and qualify people that are already trained overseas. We therefore cannot progress with your application. However, you could look to train in the UK through the overseas-trained teachers route – you can find more information on the Department for Education website. 

Does Teach First sponsor visas?

Participants are not employed by Teach First during their time on Leadership Development Programme. We are therefore not in a position to sponsor visa applications.

Do you accept CVs?

To ensure all applicants are treated equally, we are not able to accept CVs – our application process is a standardised online process. 

If you’re unable to complete your form online because of a disability, please contact a member of our recruitment team at recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk.

When do you collect references?

If you are successful throughout the recruitment process, you will be made a conditional offer to join the Leadership Development Programme.  As a condition of your offer, you are required to provide the details of nominated referees and confirm that they can be contacted.  

I graduated a few years ago; do you have any age restrictions?

We place no restrictions on the age of applicants. We want to attract the most talented people onto our Leadership Development Programme irrespective of their age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion/belief or disability. If you are already working, we can support your transition into the classroom and during the two-year Leadership Development Programme.

I’d like to teach science. How can I boost my subject knowledge?

If you have A-levels in biology, chemistry or physics, or have studied a science degree, you can still be a physics or chemistry specialist in school.  

Teach First will actively support you in accessing a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) programme to develop your existing knowledge. The SKE course will be available to eligible candidates at no charge.

Can I apply with a disability?

We are committed to ensuring that all our candidates are treated fairly and with respect, irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, race, religion/belief or disability. You will be asked to describe your disability as part of your application but this information remains confidential and is only used in monitoring our process. 

Therefore, if you require any reasonable adjustments to be made to our selection process or would like to talk to a member of our recruitment team please email recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk. 

If you are invited to a selection day at our development centre we would ask that you also contact us at that point to inform us of any special requirements you will need at your selection day and we will endeavour to accommodate them.

What do I need to teach primary?

For primary teaching, we require a degree (2.1 or above) in a primary national curriculum subject or an A*, A or B A-level (or equivalent) in two of these subjects. If you have a Psychology degree (2.1 or above) you will also be eligible to teach in a primary school. 
Please see our requirements page for further information on criteria.

What do I need to teach early years?

For Early Years we require a degree (2.1 or above) in:  
Early Years/Early Childhood Studies (or a related degree)  
A primary national curriculum subject; or 
An A*, A or B A-level (or equivalent) in two of these subjects 
Find out more about our teaching requirements.

Do you work with Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

Teach First works in Early Years, primary and secondary schools across England and in Wales. We prioritise schools which: 

  1. Have more than 50% of their pupils living in the lowest 30% of the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) 

  1. Have low attainment of 5+ A*-C GCSEs among their students. Teach First works in schools whose results fall below the lowest 30% of the national distribution. 

Unfortunately we do not currently have the resources to be able to offer SEN placements. If you would like to find out more about becoming a SEN teacher please contact the Department for Education. 

What if what I want to teach is now closed?

If your chosen curriculum area is closed for the current intake you will not be able to apply for it in that recruitment year. You can apply for vacancies in the following year when they open (usually July). Please note we do sometimes review and change our requirements for a new recruitment year and therefore we would advise checking our website when we reopen to ensure you are still eligible to apply.

Can I choose where I will be allocated?

Our key strength is our mission-focused approach to targeting educational inequality, which allows us to place teachers where there is the greatest need for them. This flexibility is crucial to addressing educational disadvantage. 

You may have strong views about where you want to work but our focus is on placing highly-motivated individuals where they are most needed and we recommend that you be open minded about location. During the application you will be able to state your preferences; all preferences and any extenuating circumstances will be taken into account but we are not able to guarantee you will be placed in your first choice. We must prioritise the needs of the schools and their children over the preferences of our applicants.

I am going away travelling. When can I attend a selection day if my application is successful?

Once you submit an application you will be notified of the outcome within 10 days. If successful, you will then be invited to attend a selection day at our development centre. 

We run selection days throughout the year, so we will aim to be flexible and book you in at a time that suits you. 

However, please be aware that we recruit on a rolling basis, so if you delay your development centre for a long time then there is a risk that your desired curriculum area may fill up before you can attend.

Are you able to accept applications from non-UK citizens?

Yes, we do accept overseas applicants. Candidates who need a visa to work in the UK have until April to produce the relevant documentation. This documentation must prove your eligibility to work in the UK for the Summer Institute and the two-year programme in its entirety.

How do I apply with non-UK qualifications?

It is possible to apply with non-UK qualifications. Please apply via our online application form: you will have the option to tick a non-UK qualifications box, then you can fill in details of any qualifications you have. 
Should you be successful in receiving an offer to the Leadership Development Programme, this will be conditional upon you providing documentation to show your overseas qualifications are equivalent to the UK qualifications we require. We will let you know more about this process at the time; it requires you to contact Naric, which is a governing body that will provide documentation that shows if your qualifications are equivalent.

Do you accept applications from graduates who require a work permit?

Unfortunately, we are unable to assist in the visa application or sponsoring process. Applicants who require a visa to work in the UK must obtain this independently of Teach First. 

Offers to join the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) are conditional upon candidates successfully demonstrating our competencies, meeting our academic requirements and proving they have the right to remain and work in the UK for the duration of the Summer Institute training and two-year LDP. 

Candidates requiring a visa to work in the UK have until April to produce the documentation to Teach First. This documentation must prove eligibility to work in the UK for the Summer Institute and the two-year LDP in its entirety.

Can I apply to Teach First with a non-national curriculum degree subject?

In the case of some curriculum areas, your eligibility to teach will be determined by your A-levels (or equivalent) instead of your degree. Please check the eligibility requirements for early years, primary and secondary teaching for more information
Curriculum knowledge will also be assessed as part of the process. If you receive an offer from Teach First, one of the conditions will be the successful completion of a Curriculum Knowledge Assessment. The Curriculum Knowledge Assessment is to ensure that you have the required knowledge to teach and to identify areas of knowledge that you will need to further develop before the Summer Institute and beginning teaching in September. 
Should you join the Leadership Development Programme, Teach First will allocate you a curriculum area, in which you will teach at least 50% of your timetable. A large number of our participants are required to teach another curriculum area as well. This will depend on the needs of your school. 
If there are particular curriculum areas you would not be comfortable teaching we will take this into consideration. You will have the opportunity to voice these concerns before starting the Leadership Development Programme. If you are only eligible to teach something that we are no longer recruiting for, a recruiter will be in touch to talk about your options before the Assessment Centre. 
If you have any questions or concerns please contact faq@teachfirst.org.uk

What is the DBS (formerly CRB) process?

If you have a criminal record, you should disclose this in the box provided when completing your application for the Leadership Development Programme (LDP). Should you be made a conditional offer to join the LDP, further DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks will be made and you should highlight your conviction at the offer stage.

Will I be paid during the Summer Institute?

Accommodation, transport and food expenses are provided over the Summer Institute. However, we are aware that there are those who will require financial support over this period and August. We would not want applicants to be discouraged from applying owing to financial reasons, so please contact recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk for details around support that we can offer.

Am I able to receive feedback on my application/development centre?

Last year we received thousands of applications for the Leadership Development Programme. Unfortunately this means we can’t reply to feedback requests at the application stage. We really appreciate the time you have taken to submit your application, which is why every application is assessed for consistency and fairness. 

However we can offer feedback to candidates who attended a selection day at our development centre. When you receive your results by email, you’ll be offered the option to request feedback.

What if I have made a mistake on the application form?

If you realise after submitting your application form that you have entered anything incorrectly, including academic details, please email recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk immediately so that your information can be updated

If I am having technical difficulties with my application, what should I do?

If you are having technical problems with the application form, for example if the page isn’t loading, you might find it helpful to try the following: 

  1. Check that cookies and JavaScript are enabled on your browser 

  1. Close all browser windows then open a fresh one 

  1. Check the speed of your internet connection: if your internet connection is slow, website pages can be slow to load and will eventually "time out" if the information is not transferring fast enough 

If your application is not being saved correctly please make sure you are using the next and previous buttons to navigate through the application, rather than the navigation bar at the top of the page 

If you’re having a different technical issue then please get in contact and we'll be happy to help.

If I have an offer but later find out I entered my academics incorrectly will I lose my offer?

If you discover following an offer that you have entered any of your academic details incorrectly and they affect your eligibility to teach on the programme, it is possible that your offer may be rescinded. 

If the mistake does not affect your eligibility to teach on the programme you may still be able to continue through the offer process. However the information will still need to be updated.  

If you believe you have entered any details incorrectly on the application form, you must ensure you notify the Recruitment Team immediately by emailing recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk

I have forgotten my username and/or password, what should I do?

If you are experiencing any problems with your login, please rest your password or contact faq@teachfirst.org.uk.

I’ve looked everywhere on your website but I can’t find the answer to an important question. Can I contact you directly?

If you have looked at the website and FAQ section and still can’t find the answer to your question, you can contact us at faq@teachfirst.org.uk or on 0203 862 8546.

What do I do should I wish to raise a complaint?

Any complaint will be treated seriously. If you want to raise a complaint regarding our recruitment and selection procedure, you should put your complaint in writing. You can send details of your complaint, marked FAO: Director of Recruitment, to recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk.

What does the Leadership Development Programme involve?

Developed in collaboration with leading schools and universities, the Leadership Development Programme equips you with the advanced leadership skills and behaviours to become an inspirational classroom leader, giving each young person you teach the chance of a better future. 

It comprises world-class teaching and leadership training with a fully-funded Post-Graduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGDE) and leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). It also includes the option to top up the PGDE to a Master’s degree that is specifically designed to further develop your effectiveness as a leader and a teacher. 

Please visit the Leadership Development Programme section for a breakdown of the programme structure.

Will participants in Wales embark on a different programme to participants in England?

The core Leadership Development Programme will be offered in both countries. The Welsh qualification framework is different to the English one, but both are interchangeable in terms of post-qualification employment in either country. 

In addition, the Welsh government allows for an optional (but strongly encouraged) Masters in Education Practice for newly-qualified teachers – this is open to Teach First participants in Wales. The programme curriculum will be specific to the Welsh school and education system context and at the moment, we only place in secondary schools. 

The overall Leadership Development Programme will also be developed and delivered in ways which are relevant to the context and needs of the schools in each area in Wales.

During the first year on the Leadership Development Programme, what will my student status be?

During the Summer Institute you will be a full-time student of the initial teacher training provider. Once you start at your school, you will switch to become a part-time student and a full-time employee of your school.

What salary will I be paid?

Our participants are employed and paid by their school throughout the two years. Your salary is based on the local area you are placed in (and in the case of London, salaries are further broken down by Inner London, Outer London and Fringe Areas). 
In the second year, participants are paid varying amounts dependent on the salary our participating schools pay their Newly Qualified Teachers and the level of extra responsibility a teacher takes on. For more detail on teachers’ salaries visit our Salary and Benefits page.
The cost of living in London is significantly more than that of other areas in the country and salaries reflect this cost. Our participants live comfortably whether on their own, with friends or family, or with other Teach First participants.

What are the schools like?

We prioritise schools which: 

  1. Have more than 50% of their pupils living in the lowest 30% of the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) 

  1. Have low attainment of 5+ A*-C GCSEs among their students. Teach First works in schools whose results fall below the lowest 30% of the national distribution. 

Teach First partner schools vary in their ethnic make-ups, the age of their buildings and the communities they are in, but they will often be in challenging areas. In all schools the Head Teachers have asked to employ Teach First participants and have agreed to provide the level of support required by us. 

What is the difference between Teach First and the PGCE route?

A traditional PGCE is a one-year postgraduate training course, delivered in partnership between a university and its partner schools, and including at least 120 days of classroom observation and teaching practice within the course. A PGCE student is not employed in a full-time teaching post until after their training year is complete and they have gained their Postgraduate Certificate in Education (which includes QTS). As part of their course they will do blocks of teaching practice in a number of schools but will not have sole responsibility for the pupils they teach. 
We run a two year two-year Leadership Development Programme, designed to recruit people who would not otherwise do a PGCE or take another route into teaching, but who agree that educational inequality needs to be addressed and want to do something about it. 
The two years start with a university-based, five-week Summer Institute which includes teaching practice. Then in September, Teach First participants take up posts in schools on an 80% teachers timetable, and continue to train towards gaining a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership, worth double the credits of a PGCE (with QTS) while working. Our participants are paid and work as teachers for the whole two years in their school. Teach First is therefore an employment-based route. 
Please be aware that we cannot accept an application from anyone who has accepted a position on a PGCE course.

Am I likely to be teaching anything other than my QTS curriculum area in my school?

In many instances our participants are expected to teach something else as well as the area they are working in to gain QTS in. In fact, some of our current participants teach up to 50% of their timetable in another curriculum area, dependent on the needs of the particular school in which they are placed. 

In your first year you are not likely to be able to influence your school's choice of timetable for you, although you will always be guaranteed at least 50% time in your QTS curriculum area. Once you are qualified and have established good relationships in your school, it may be easier in your second year to request the opportunity of teaching an additional area you are interested in. 

Throughout the Summer Institute there will be opportunities for attending sessions and workshops on your additional curriculum area, discussing teaching issues with ambassadors and Associate Tutors, networking and developing 'buddying' relationships with fellow colleagues whose principle curriculum area is your additional one. There are also curriculum-based online forums on our community website where you can access support and ideas from participants and ambassadors whose principle curriculum area is your additional one. 

Within our placement schools we work closely with Head Teachers and mentors to ensure you also receive sufficient help and support for any additional curriculum areas you are teaching. 


Is it compulsory to complete the two years of the Leadership Development Programme?

We require all participants to commit to the two-year Leadership Development Programme. The two years are vital to complete the training to become a qualified teacher and the programme's leadership development events. If you do not complete the two years, you will not graduate as a Teach First ambassador and as such will not have access to the Teach First ambassador programme and its benefits. 

Most importantly, we believe that we best address educational inequality by ensuring that all of our participants complete the minimum two-year commitment they have given to their schools and pupils. 

After Teach First

What is a Teach First ambassador?

Our ambassadors are former participants of the Teach First Leadership Development Programme who continue to work to address educational inequality while further developing as leaders. Many of our ambassadors decide to continue teaching – around 60% of our participants do – others may leave the classroom for another role, possibly with one of our supporters. We encourage all our ambassadors to engage with our vision, influencing and advocating on our behalf and using their experience to drive change. 

We are focused on unlocking the potential of this growing network of individuals to make a widespread, lasting impact on society. Unlike many other alumni networks, it is founded on the belief that Teach First must provide ongoing leadership development support, networking and volunteering opportunities and special benefits to its alumni in order for them to truly develop into leaders of the future, properly equipped and motivated to make a difference. 

After the Leadership Development Programme, am I able to teach in Scotland?

If your degree is the subject that you teach on the Leadership Development Programme, your qualification is transferable to teaching in Scottish schools. If you have specific questions about your academics and transferability, your Recruitment Officer will be happy to answer them. 

Am I guaranteed a job with one of the supporting companies at the end of the Leadership Development Programme?

Many of our supporters recognise that Teach First ambassadors will have gained invaluable experience and skills through teaching and are actively looking to recruit our participants at the end of the two years. There will be opportunities to build contacts in these organisations through the career development events and activities (including the option to complete a two-week Summer Project towards the end of your first year on the Leadership Development Programme). But it will be up to you to seek these opportunities out and make the most of them!

If I complete the Leadership Development Programme, can I leave teaching and return later in life?

Your Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (which is worth double the credits of a PGCE) and Qualified Teacher Status are standard qualifications for teaching in England and Wales and as such you are able to return to the profession at any time.

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