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Teach First celebrates 20th anniversary as three former PMs pay tribute

Education charity Teach First celebrated its 20th anniversary at a reception in Parliament last night, with three former prime ministers paying tribute to the charity’s work in tackling educational inequalities.

The event – addressed by former Education Secretary Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP – was a celebration of Teach First’s remarkable contribution to improving schools and boosting the prospects of children in disadvantaged areas in England since 2003.

Over the past 20 years, Teach First has recruited more than 16,000 teachers to work in low-income communities across England. As a result, today more than 100 former Teach First trainees are headteachers, with thousands more in other leadership positions in schools.

To mark the milestone, three former prime ministers who supported Teach First’s mission have paid tribute to the charity’s achievements in supporting more than two million young people from the poorest areas of the country.

The Rt. Hon. Lord David Cameron, Conservative Prime Minister from 2010-16 who recently returned to the Cabinet as Foreign Secretary, said: “Teach First’s 20-year partnership with the Government has been at the heart of the drive towards a better education for every child. Their unwavering commitment to educational excellence for students in the most disadvantaged areas means so much more than impact statistics can convey.

“I remember very well taking part in a Teach First teacher training day myself before I became Prime Minister. I saw then, in the early days of Teach First, the incredible potential of what is achieved and that is something that I know has not changed. Teach First’s impact has transformed over two million lives – and I’m sure what has been achieved in its first 20 years will be built on for many decades to come."

The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, Labour Prime Minister from 2007-10, said he commended Teach First on its “pathbreaking work”. 

Mr Brown added: “This means young people lifted out of poverty, students leaving the school gates for the very last time confident about who they are, prepared to take on life’s challenges, and more people pursuing the careers, the jobs and the training that is right for them.”

The Rt. Hon. Theresa May, Conservative Prime Minister from 2016-19, said: “Teachers and schools can make the decisive difference in unlocking children’s possibilities. That’s why I support Teach First’s vital work and continue to champion policies which support them in this mission.”

At the event, the former Education Secretary Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP paid tribute to Teach First’s cross-party appeal, mentioning how the charity was “the only organisation ever to be mentioned in the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos as an organisation that each political party wants to see grow, expand and flourish.”

The Shadow Schools minister Catherine McKinnell MP maintained Labour’s commitment to Teach First, saying: “We (Labour) want to work in partnership with Teach First, with teachers and with school leaders, because we know you see first hand the impact that great teaching practice has on children, and that the only way to deliver a world-class education is to have a world-class teaching profession.”

The Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP spoke of the importance of Teach First’s mission and how vital it is that young people aren’t held back because of their background.

At the event, Teach First CEO Russell Hobby reaffirmed the charity’s mission to help Britain’s most disadvantaged children achieve their full potential, saying: “Teach First’s history is one of daring to innovate to help children and young people fulfil their potential. We’re proud that those with Teach First teachers are getting better GCSE results and are more likely to go to university.

“But the hurdles for young people are ever growing and the stakes for society are getting higher. Young people are our future, so we’re asking more people to come with us on the journey to ensure every young person gets the chance to show their potential by training to teach with us or donating to Teach First.”

Alongside Mr Gove and the three former prime ministers, a host of politicians lined up to pay tribute to Teach First, including former Schools Minister the Rt Hon. Nick Gibb MP and former education secretaries Lord David Blunkett, Baroness Nicky Morgan, the Rt Hon. Nadhim Zahawi MP and Baroness Estelle Morris.

Editors' note

About Teach First

Teach First is an education charity that is committed to giving children facing the biggest barriers the chance to fulfil their potential. It backs the schools with the toughest challenges. The charity finds and trains teachers, develops their leadership teams and plugs them into networks of diverse expertise and opportunities to create real change. Teach First has placed more than 16,000 teachers and leaders, has more than 100 headteachers in its training programme alumni and has supported more than two million pupils.

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