Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for 2020 applicants and incoming trainees

Our 2020 Training Programme is going ahead, and we are still accepting applications.

Last updated: 25 March 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
What are Teach First's plans for Summer Institute?

We’re not yet certain on the exact details, but we’re thinking through and making plans as quickly as we can. Our plan will make sure we keep you safe, follow government advice and prepare you as well as possible to enter the classroom.  We’ll make sure you are ready to help build a fair education for all.

We will keep you informed as decisions are made and provide updates here.

Will preparing for the programme events still be held?

We’re going to have to change our ‘preparation for Summer Institute’ events in the coming weeks. We can’t do these in person right now, but we’ll find ways for you to connect virtually ahead of joining us. There will be more to come on this soon, but in the meantime, please do join the 2020 cohort Facebook group to meet your fellow trainees.

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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