Coronavirus (COVID-19) information: trainee teachers

Thank you for the support you’re providing for pupils during this challenging time. Please continue to focus on the guidance provided by your school alongside this information from Teach First.

Last updated 8 January 2021


Due to the third national lockdown announced on 4 January 2021, we’ll now be pausing all face-to-face visits by support roles in schools until further notice. We’ll continue to provide online support to trainees, mentors, programme members and other key school stakeholders as we have been doing whilst considering how we can best support you in this new lockdown situation. Any further updates will be added to these web pages.

Read the updated guidance

Our priority remains protecting and supporting our schools, our communities and our employees. In response to COVID-19, all our programmes are continuing to be delivered remotely.

Keep scrolling to view our Frequently Asked Questions regarding our response to COVID-19.

Continued support

Our teams will continue to work to support you online. Where staff work with you one-to-one, they will continue to do so – but these meetings will be conducted via phone or video link in most cases.

We continue to support the progress of all trainees, alongside your mentors, tutors and schools. Although we may not be with you in person, we’re here to help and are (digitally speaking) right behind you every step of the way.

Essential face-to-face visits in schools

Our face-to-face support in schools will now be available in all government tiers, but the range of support will vary by government tier. This is also subject to ongoing changes to government or Department for Education guidance and is dependent upon the unique visitor policy for each school.

  • In all tiers we continue to provide high quality, highly responsive support to trainees, mentors and programme members online. Although face-to-face meetings and support are important, we’ve received positive feedback about the impact of our online support, and we’re pleased that trainees and programme members are still making great progress.
  • For schools within Tiers 1 and 2, we will be prioritising face-to-face visits for trainees and schools that have the greatest or most imminent need for support. It’s possible that the person visiting each school would not be the typical Development Lead. School visits regarding fundraising and videography activity might also take place in these areas.
  • For schools situated in Tier 3 areas, we will only be able to provide essential face-to-face support. This covers support that can’t be done online and without which a trainee or school is at risk of withdrawing from their programme(s). This could be an observation of a trainee for whom progress is ‘a cause for concern’; or a group coaching session, which is considered essential support.

We will continue to provide most of our school support online where it is sensible to do so. To minimise risk and to reduce the likelihood of Teach First spreading COVID-19 between schools, our employees will only be permitted to make one school visit per day and cannot complete school visits in an area under different tier restrictions to the area in which they live.

Our university partners are determining next steps regarding their tutor visits for the Training Programme and are continuing to work closely in partnership with Development Leads and our regional teams.  

Frequently Asked Questions

We know it’s an uncertain time. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions to provide more guidance. As circumstances change, we'll keep these updated with the latest information as soon as we’re able to provide it. 

How should I support my school? 

All schools are facing different challenges, and the exact details and policies will vary between each. As you’re employed by your school, please keep focused on their needs – we don’t want to distract you from that. If there’s anything you’re unsure of, you can check this with your mentor or Development Lead. 

What support will be available to trainee teachers?

Development Leads and tutors will continue to support trainees remotely. Trainees and mentors will access all of their Teach First learning online, with no in-person events planned for the remainder of the academic year.

This is to prioritise the health and safety of all involved and support with the forward planning for our partner schools and teachers. It covers in-person Training Programme CPD or training days, and those for school leadership programmes.

You’ll still need scheduled time set aside to conduct your live online learning and support. Both Teach First and our university colleagues are set up well for working with schools and trainees online to respond flexibly to the ongoing pandemic.

What should I do if I need extra support from Teach First?

Please keep your Development Lead informed if you feel you need any additional support, including visits to your school. We anticipate that only a small proportion of trainees will require an essential visit. Each request will be reviewed on a case by case basis, and our team will seek permissions and make arrangements with your school where needed. Please note, we have a limited number of staff completing the essential visits and therefore the individual visiting may not be the typical Development Lead who you usually work with.

How will essential face-to-face visits in schools work?

In-person support may encompass interactions such as observation, real-time coaching, in-person meetings (only where online meetings are not feasible), and assessment of environmental factors. How this is best delivered will be decided by Teach First staff in consultation with each school.

What about support from university partners?

Our university partners are determining next steps regarding their tutor visits for the Training Programme and are continuing to work closely in partnership with Development Leads and our regional teams.

How can I stay informed with the latest updates from Teach First?

You’ll continue to receive the trainee bulletins sent out every two weeks. This is the best way to stay informed about the support available to you as a trainee teacher.

What’s the impact on QTS and PGDE for trainee teachers who started in 2019?

The Department for Education confirmed that trainee teachers were able to gain QTS this summer as planned. That judgement was made based on any assessments to date and progress towards meeting the Teachers’ Standards. You will still be able to complete your PGDE. You can read the updated ITT guidance from the DfE on their website.

Can I still become a Teach First ambassador when I complete the programme?

Everyone who successfully completes one of our programmes becomes part of our ambassador community. We’ll share more detailed information about what this means closer to the end of the academic year.

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