What to expect at our Development Centre

Got an upcoming selection day at a Teach First Development Centre? Find out more about what to expect.


If your online application for our Training Programme is successful you will be invited to attend our Development Centre. You will be given the choice to join a virtual or in-person day.

Unlike an assessment centre, a Development Centre is not just about the skills you have right now – it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your potential to learn and develop further.

The focus of the day will be you and your development. You’ll complete a series of exercises that will allow us to understand your strengths and your areas for development. We’ll share this with you as live, actionable feedback that will help you improve your performance – throughout the day and over the longer term. This will allow you to adapt and improve your performance as you progress, and ensure your key strengths get the space to shine.

Although the focus is on your development, it is a selection day. To ensure a fair process for everyone, your assessors in the Development Centre will not have seen your application. This means we’ll select participants for the programme based on the behaviours and potential you demonstrate on the day.

Your recruiter will also be in touch before your Development Centre to talk through the day in more detail, as well as to answer any questions you might have. You can reach out to them at any point to discuss it in more depth.

The day is comprised of the following elements, including a competency-based interview, a group case study with self-evaluation and a teaching episode with self-evaluation:


1. Competency-based interview

You will have a one-on-one interview with an assessor, focusing on how you can demonstrate our competencies. You will also have the chance to ask any questions you may have.


2. Case study and self-evaluation

You will be placed in a group of up to six candidates to work together to discuss a realistic school-based scenario. You will be given all the information you need in the task so there is nothing to prepare.

Following the discussion you will complete a verbal self-evaluation of the task to reflect on your performance.


3. Sample teaching episode and self-evaluation

You will be asked to deliver a pre-prepared four-minute teaching episode. The assessors will be looking for you to demonstrate your ability to communicate your topic in an appropriate and creative manner. Once your teaching episode is over, our assessors will give you feedback to incorporate into a second delivery of the task. You will then re-deliver your teaching exercise with this feedback in mind.

Seven days before your Development Centre you will be emailed detailed information and guidance on the sample teaching episode you’ll teach on the day.

Once you know the ‘title’ of your teaching episode, give yourself time to prepare: do your research, prepare any materials and practise on friends and family to get an idea of your timings. Think about the teaching episode from a pupil’s perspective when planning your content. It's best to remember that this isn't a 'presentation', but a teaching episode to engage and inspire.

Remember that your self-evaluation after the teaching episode is also being assessed and is just as important for your final result.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do you require adjustments at the Development Centre?

We strongly encourage applicants who have a disability or long-term health condition to share this information with us on their application form. This information is treated with complete confidentiality and is used to help us arrange any adjustments to your selection process that you may require. If you require any adjustments please contact recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk or dc@teachfirst.org.uk.

Common mistakes at the Development Centre

Our assessors have listed some common mistakes candidates make in preparation for and at their Development Centre. Take some time to reflect on the below, and think how you'd avoid them:

  • Not being yourself: Nerves and a desire to impress can lead to an exaggerated representation of your personality. Consciously adopting behaviours you believe we are looking for or trying to emulate your favourite teacher is likely to backfire and appear rehearsed or unnatural. 

    Our highly skilled assessors are trained to identify talent and potential. We want to meet the real you and to understand what you uniquely bring so try not to overthink your actions and be yourself.
  • Not doing your homework: Lack of preparation can undermine an otherwise strong performance in areas that can be easily addressed ahead of the Development Centre. Be sure to use the resources on our website and the support of our recruiters effectively. We want to know that you understand what sets us apart and to hear your story. We recommend you fully consider what each competency entails and how it would manifest itself in a teaching role? How have your experiences so far enabled you to develop within these areas?

    A week before your Development Centre you will receive an email with key information, please read this carefully and follow the suggested guidance. Travel expenses must be printed in advance if attending an in-person day.
  • Not considering your audience: When planning a teaching episode don’t just focus on your delivery, consider the actions of the pupils and their learning. It is important to consider the age group you are planning for and their likely interests.

    Ask yourself some key questions – Do I have an understanding of what this age group is like? Have I considered their enjoyment of the content? How will I know if they are on track?

There are many online resources that can support your planning and you may find it helpful to research best practice, particularly if you are unfamiliar with recommended teaching and learning strategies and/or approaches to classroom management.

Why are you running in-person and virtual Development Centres?

Throughout the 2020/21 recruitment season, we had to change our approach and run all of our Development Centres virtually. As the world begins to open up again, and we’re able to move more freely, we recognise that some of you might prefer to attend a Development Centre in-person at our London offices.

However, we have seen brilliant success with our virtual Development Centres and found that we are able to offer an equally high-quality experience online. We also recognise that not everyone feels comfortable travelling or meeting in-person at the moment. So we feel very privileged to be able to offer you the option to preference a setting that is best suited to you.

We haven’t seen any difference in feedback from those who have attended virtual or in-person Development Centres, and it doesn’t have an impact on pass-rates either. We are certain that whichever option you attend, you will have a consistent experience and will not be advantaged or disadvantaged in any way.

If you’re not sure which option you would prefer and would like to talk this through, please do get in touch with your recruiter who will be happy to help.

What adjustments have you made at your in-person Development Centres to make them COVID safe?

We have taken extensive steps to make sure we’re offering a safe environment for you if you decide to attend an in-person Development Centre. These include:

•    a minimum of one metre distance between all chairs and room layouts for optional distancing
•    plenty of antibacterial gel and handwashing locations
•    staggered arrival times and schedules to reduce extended times with large groups
•    regular cleaning of rooms
•    individual stationary provided to each attendee which is cleaned daily
•    no handshakes.

We also strongly advise all attendees to take a lateral flow test before attending the Development Centre, you have the option wear a mask when moving around if preferred, and take the opportunity to get outside at lunchtime for some fresh air. 

Ready to apply?

Applications to join our 2024 Training Programme are open.

Apply now


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