Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for applicants and incoming trainees

Applications for our 2020 Training Programme are closed. We are now accepting applications for 2021.

Last updated: 20 May 2020


We're excited about you joining us and the difference you’ll make to young people and your own career. 

We’re all experiencing things changing rapidly, but we’re prepared. We’ve been pre-emptive in planning to deliver our work in different ways and we’ll have various options available depending on how and when things unfold in the months ahead.

You will be supported

We will keep this page updated as our plans develop. Whatever happens, we will make sure you are prepared and supported, and ready to build a fair education for all.

Recent weeks have been a challenge for all of us. But we’ve also been inspired by the work teachers and schools are doing to protect and support some of the most vulnerable young people in the country and I am sure you are proud to be joining their ranks.

Thank you for your patience. Below are some more detailed FAQs – which we’ll keep adding to in the coming weeks. If you have a more urgent question contact your recruiter, or email


FAQs (we’ll keep updating these, so check regularly)

Will Teach First be able offer the same level of support as normal during the application process? 

We have a dedicated recruitment team to support you to do the best you can in your application for our Training Programme. As we, and you, are all over the country, a lot of our support during the recruitment process was already virtual (e.g. phone calls and emails), so there will be no change there. Where we would normally meet you in person – for example at events – we’re set up to offer similar experiences in different ways (e.g. webinars).

We’re also adjusting to some of the same challenges you might be – e.g. working from home, caring for children/ those more vulnerable – and are doing everything we can to ensure this doesn’t affect our work. We have robust plans in place to account for some members of the Teach First team adopting different working patterns, and these have been decided with supporting you in mind. 

How will the assessment process work?

The application process for our Training Programme has two stages: an online application form and a Development Centre. You are able to fill the application form out as normal, but we are running Development Centres virtually whilst the current contact restrictions are in place. Our aim in moving to a virtual Development Centre is to limit the disruption to your Teach First Training Programme journey, while continuing to find the best trainee teachers. Full details of the virtual assessment centre will be sent to you, if your initial application is successful.

Our schools are going to need more teachers, no matter what happens over the next few months. Now, more than ever, schools are relying on us.  

Incoming trainees
How will Summer Institute be delivered for the 2020 Training Programme?

We’re making changes to this year's Summer Institute to ensure the safety of our staff, trainees and pupils. The dates will remain the same (Monday 22 June - Friday 24 July 2020), but due to the current social distancing guidelines, we are designing an online Summer Institute.

The core purposes of Summer Institute are to prepare you for starting in the classroom and enable you to cement relationships with your fellow cohort members. Our online Summer Institute is being designed with these elements firmly at the forefront.

Our online Summer Institute will mean that you'll be able to participate no matter where you are. We hope that this comes as a relief to those of you who are affected by travel restrictions. Summer Institute will be a mix of live seminars and tutorials, and online content accessible at any time. We know you might need more flexibility to complete Summer Institute, and we're working on more detailed guidance to support you in this.

We have considerable experience in supporting new teachers to be ready for the classroom. Our curriculum is sequenced to ensure you get the best possible training, so we will be explicit about what you need to focus upon, in what order and by when.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we can't offer school-based training as a part of Summer Institute. We're prepared, and are working closely with our university partners to design alternatives for this. We'll also provide additional support and opportunities once restrictions are lifted. We will share more specifics on this as the coming months unfold, but online teaching will definitely form a part of Summer Institute, and as experts in teacher training, we will make sure that this will prepare you to start in the classroom.

You will have a dedicated Development Lead from Teach First throughout Summer Institute who will be there to offer you one-to-one support. There will also be plenty of opportunities to connect with other trainees in your region and subject group, as well as national get-togethers – both online, and in person once restrictions have been lifted.

We are continuing to work hard on designing the best online Summer Institute possible and will keep you updated as this progresses. We are very aware that everyone's circumstances are different right now, and people are facing various challenges, so we aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible.

If you have any immediate questions, or want to talk through the above, don't hesitate to reach out to your recruiter.

Will I be fully prepared to start in the classroom if Summer Institute is online?

We have 17 years’ experience of training teachers. Our subject and teaching experts internally and also from our university partners are adapting our Summer Institute curriculum to make sure it can be delivered remotely. Completing our online Summer Institute would still put you on track to gain both QTS and your PGDE.

You'll still be able to observe and practise teaching – supported by an expert teacher educator from Teach First, and your university. Where training would normally be delivered in an interactive group setting (e.g. school-based learning) there will be fit for purpose online alternatives, and we will be reviewing each session individually make sure we're finding the best online solution. We'll also be thinking carefully about how we might need to adapt the start of your time in school to ensure you receive all the training and support you need.

The high bar that we pride ourselves on for Summer Institute remains. The rigour, care and expertise that we put into the five weeks remains. And in return, we need you to join us with the same enthusiasm and commitment that we know we would have seen in person, across the country. This will mean you will be well prepared to join thousands of other teachers up and down the country who will be helping get the nation back on track, especially our most vulnerable children.

Will Summer Institute include training on how to teach/support children who have not been in school for six months? Especially children who live in challenging home circumstances?

We're aware that you'll be going into an unprecedented school environment, and this will look different for each school and each pupil. Looking ahead, it’s safe to say that teachers, like yourself, will be at the heart of the UK’s recovery, which is why your joining our 2020 cohort is so critical.

We’ll make sure you're supported and ready to go into classrooms, whatever those classrooms might look and feel like. Safeguarding is already an important part of your training, which will be delivered at Summer Institute and throughout your time on our Training Programme. We will also be bolstering this further to focus on child development and mental health and wellbeing. We'll equip you with the tools you need to teach and support the children in your care, and you will have dedicated support along the way specific to your needs.

Will there be financial support available during Summer Institute? 

The Support with Summer Institute guide has now been updated and re-uploaded to My Teach First within your Summer Institute section. 
It includes updated information on how to apply for financial support (including essential expenses, support to engage with Summer Institute and accommodation). This is aimed at those who, without the support, wouldn't be able to complete Summer Institute. 
Please read the document carefully in full before applying for any of the financial support options. 

Do offer task deadlines remain the same?  

In order to make sure you’re placed in a school we do need to keep to deadlines for offer tasks. Unfortunately, if we don’t keep to our timelines, this has a knock-on effect on universities and schools, which will be particularly challenging for them at this time.

All enrolment tasks can be completed online, so we hope you can still complete them as normal. But we do understand there may be delays outside of your control – for example, references taking longer to be returned – and extensions will be discussed on a case-by-case basis if there are extenuating circumstances. We’re keen to be as accommodating as we can be, so please speak to your recruiter if you’re having any specific issues or would like to discuss an extension. 

I can't get to my post because of self-isolation and restrictions - what does this mean for my university enrolment and DBS? 

We’re speaking regularly to our university partners as they adapt to the current restrictions. We expect that they’ll put contingency plans in place for sharing documents, but unfortunately at the moment we don’t know exactly what this will look like.

We’ll let you know as soon as we know more, but in the meantime if you have an urgent concern, please contact your university directly so they can help you. 

Will Coronavirus affect Teach First's ability to place me in a school?

We still want to match you with a school where the need is greatest. Because schools don’t know their vacancies until near to the end of term, and we want to find you the right role, it’s completely normal to not have been matched until, during, and sometimes after, Summer Institute. I’m sorry if that’s a little unsettling but we’re still sourcing the best teaching posts for you and your fellow trainees. We’re confident we’ll have a great school for you to start in September. We’ll keep you updated in the coming months.

We’ve strong relationships with our 1,000 existing partner schools, and we will continue to reach out to new schools.  Despite the closures, we’ll keep in regular communication with heads and school leaders via email, phone and video. But given the situation schools may take longer than usual to confirm placements, as they manage urgent priorities. So you might find out your placement school later than you were expecting.

The importance of schools and teachers has really shone through during this pandemic, they have been making a vital difference to our most vulnerable children. Schools will still need brilliant teachers this year, next year, and in the years to come. Being a teacher where the need is greatest is more important than ever. We are excited about the difference you will make in the classroom and look forward to welcoming you onto our Training Programme.

If you do have any specific questions relating to your school placement, please reach out to your recruiter in the first instance.

Can I defer my place on the Training Programme due to Coronavirus?

We know it's unsettling seeing schools close. We want to reassure you that despite this, schools will still need teachers. Our 2020 Training Programme will still be going ahead, and we will be continuing to match you with a school and support you in your preparation to start in the classroom. Therefore, our deferral policy remains that we can only accept deferrals for personal extenuating circumstances.

Every decision we make over the coming months will be made thinking about our trainees, our partner schools and the communities they serve. There might be some changes to the way we deliver some of our content and processes, but we’ve planned for this. This will make sure you still have a great experience on our Training Programme.

What happens if my graduation date is moved to after the programme start date? 

We know that your university, like others, will be dealing with COVID-19 in their own way. We’re doing everything we can to ensure you have a smooth start to our Training Programme, no matter what decisions are made about your graduation date.

We’re working closely with universities and the Department for Education to keep on top of what’s happening. Right now, we expect you’ll be able to start the Training Programme as normal. If this changes and we need to do something different, you’ll hear from us directly.

Please rest assured that all possible solutions are being looked at. If you have any worries that are specific to you and your university, please speak to your recruiter. 

What will happen if schools haven’t opened again by September?

We’re regularly in touch with the Department for Education about school closures and are following their advice. There hasn’t been any suggestion that schools will remain closed into September, so currently we’re working on the basis that they will be open, and you’ll start as normal.

If this looks set to change, we’ll be in touch about this to share solutions. Right now, teachers are crucial, even when schools are closed, and we don’t see this being any different in future. 

Will my job be secure for the two years? 

We put in place agreements with our partner schools to require them to accommodate our trainees for the duration of the Training Programme. You will be employed directly by your school, not Teach First, and will sign a contract of employment that should have a term of two-years. Many trainees stay on in their schools for a third year and beyond. 

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