Teach First

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation: helping us to innovate and collaborate

Teach First started as an idea, aimed at making education fairer for the UK’s most disadvantaged children. We believe that only by nurturing other great ideas for tackling educational inequality, and working with like-minded partners committing to this aim, will we ever see a day when no child is limited by how much their parents earn.

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation shares our mission to challenge the status quo through innovation and collaboration, and their support has been vital in developing new and creative partnerships to ensure that academic achievement is not defined by social status.
With the Foundation’s support, we set up our Innovation Unit in 2012 to inspire and nurture other great ideas for solutions to the problem of educational inequality. We work with social enterprises and entrepreneurs who have potential to make the biggest impact. Through a tailored package of support and advice, we help our innovation partners to accelerate their growth and impact and run a series of innovation events to continuously develop new solutions.
Our partners are working in varied areas including literacy provision, skills for working life, support for pupils at risk of exclusion, and the recruitment and training of children's social workers. All are fundamental to our aim of providing all children with a great education, and all started with an idea that was developed in a school, by a teacher, based on their daily experience of working with young people.
Esmée Fairbairn’s support was also pivotal to the development of Achieve Together, a collaborative project with Teaching Leaders and The Future Leaders Trust exploring different collaborative approaches to whole school improvement. Drawing upon our respective experience in running high-quality training or development aimed at different levels of staff, the initiative will test how far a whole-school focus on teaching and leadership can accelerate closing the attainment gap for children from low-income communities. 
Like us, Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, believes that impact is borne out of creative thinking and calculated risks. She explains: "As an independent funder we are able to take a chance on a new or risky idea, and then continue funding it over the long-term. We are delighted to have helped Teach First to grow its work and impact over the years, and to have helped to address the root causes of the challenges in children and young people's lives."