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Our next chapter

Today Teach First launches its five-year strategy with a range of new schemes to boost the number of teachers in schools serving disadvantaged communities.

In doing so Chief Executive, Russell Hobby, will call on government, business and the teaching profession to help meet modern career expectations of potential teachers.

Currently the UK faces an unprecedented demand for teachers. One teacher is leaving for every new one joining the profession. This challenge is set to grow with an additional 400,000 secondary schools pupils entering schools by 2027 - more than the number of secondary pupils in London today. 

Russell Hobby will in turn go on to warn of the risk to an increasing number of children who could miss out on great teachers, with the need for a high-quality education more vital than ever if the UK is to meet the economic and labour demands of life post-Brexit and thrive in a turbulent global economy. 

In a bid to tackle the challenges in teacher recruitment, the charity will implement a series of new schemes designed to appeal to outstanding individuals from all walks of life. Building on its success in making teaching one of the most prestigious career options for graduates, these schemes will include: 

  • Time to Teach: Aimed at bringing more career changers into the profession through tailored support, phased responsibility and a salary from day one, beginning in April. Our research with YouGov shows over 1 million people over 25 with a degree would consider teaching.
  • Reconnect to teaching: A programme to support former teacher to return to the classroom. They will be offered support to find flexible roles in schools, refresh their skills, build on experiences gained elsewhere and progress to leadership positions. There are around 300,000 qualified teachers of working age not currently in teaching. Our research shows that around 20% would return if some of the barriers are removed.
  • Teaching Assistant Fast-Track: A new opportunity for schools to develop and retain high-potential support staff through an accelerated route onto the charity’s Leadership Development Programme (LDP). They will train whilst working in their current schools, continuing to support the most disadvantaged communities. 

The new schemes build on a new report from the charity, titled ‘Britain at a crossroads: what will it take to provide the teachers our children need?’. The report will call for changes to the profession to make it relevant to modern career expectations. 

  • A fairer workload: Research commissioned from Teach First shows teachers considering leaving within the next five years often cited excessive workload (76%) as a key reason. Teach First will work with schools to look at what practices support the reduction of workload, before advocating best practice more widely. 
  • Flexible working: Teach First will work closely with schools to support them to offer flexible working to meet a common desire among millennials and Generation Z. 
  • Learning and Development: polling commissioned by Teach First shows that a fifth of teachers who are considering leaving the profession would be more likely to stay if they had access to quality continuous training. Teach First is expanding its ongoing offer to develop teachers, helping them progress to school leadership and stay in teaching. These initiatives are being opened up to teachers who trained through non-Teach First routes.    
  • Teacher Pay: The charity will call for the gap between teacher starting salaries and other professions to be reduced and highlight Teach First’s survey of headteachers showing that financial incentives are believed to be particularly effective when recruiting teachers. Financial incentives are also seen as the second-most effective factor when it comes to retaining teachers. 

Commenting on the launch of Teach First’s latest strategy, Russell Hobby, Teach First’s Chief Executive said: 

“Right now, despite the hard work of schools, too many disadvantaged young people are missing out on the education needed to fulfil their potential. 

“If we don’t tackle this, we will fail at a basic moral level, and we will fail economically as we face the stark reality of a growing skills shortage. 

“Solving this requires inspirational teachers now more than ever before, which is why we’re launching fresh new approaches to encourage more talented people from diverse backgrounds into teaching.

“This opportunity presents a major step change in addressing teacher shortages and inequality in the UK. In working with the education sector, government and business to get this right then we can create a country where every young person has a stake in the future”

Case Studies

Tracie Smallwood - Science teacher

A former detective, Tracie initially enjoyed the thrill and excitement of solving crimes and working with the community. After a while however, she realised that she had got to the stage of only seeing the bad in people, and was often unable to tell any happy stories – a realisation that came after she had started a family. Determined to do more to support the young people she came across, but reluctant to go back to university and start again, she made the move into teaching through Teach First, and hasn’t looked back. 

“I didn’t want to go back to university – it just seemed so alien to me after everything I’d been through, and so teaching through Teach First suited my circumstances a lot more. 

“The best thing is that I can be a friendly face to the children I used to work with, at the stage that prevents things happening. I can at least give them the tools they need to move on and move forward in their lives.” 

Callum Thompson - Primary School teacher

Originally from Southport, Callum’s former life was very much based in retail. But despite the opportunity to travel, Callum soon tired of his life on the road.

“I’d got myself a nice life. I’d got myself a company car and a mortgage, but hurtling toward 30, I realised: I just needed to do more with my life”.

Moved by a friend that had become a teacher, Callum first began working as a Teaching Assistant. After a two years as a teaching assistant, the Headteacher was able to work with him and Teach First to support him into teaching. 

“I always love how mature the kids are, and how they test me. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier!” 

Notes to editors

For additional enquiries, spokespeople or case studies, please contact Will Staynes via 07976534730 or

Additional information on the new strategy can be found on the Teach First website, and in a short video featuring Russell Hobby speaking at a partner school in Derby. 

About Teach First

Teach First is a charity with the vision that no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background. It believes that the scale of change needed is so great it requires a movement of leaders to make a difference at a pupil, school and system level. 

Working with universities, schools and businesses, Teach First is working towards achieving its vision by enabling its participants and ambassadors in the classroom to raise the achievement, aspiration, and access to opportunity of children from low socio-economic backgrounds, whilst developing a network of leaders with a life-long commitment to ending inequality in education from both inside and outside the classroom.

Teach First currently operates in Wales and in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coat, South West and the East of England. 

Trainees commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they teach a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) timetable; and around half stay on for a third year. 56% of all the teachers we’ve trained since 2003 are currently teaching - with a further 12% working directly in education. 

Their 13 month Initial Teacher Training starts with the unique five-week Summer Institute which provides trainees with intensive preparation for teaching in their school. Trainees then complete both their PGCE training year and their first year as an NQT in their school.



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