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Teach First Executive Director James Westhead moves on after a decade of service

James Westhead, Executive Director of Engagement, will be moving on in September almost exactly ten years since he joined from the BBC, where he was Education Correspondent.  

James Westhead joined then fledgling education charity, Teach First, in 2009 when it recruited just 350 teachers annually. He helped grow Teach First to be the single biggest teacher trainer in the country, providing more than a million children in disadvantaged communities with an excellent education.

Over the last decade he has been instrumental in developing the charity’s partnerships, brand and reputation. Today Teach First is rated the fifth most prestigious graduate scheme by students in The Times Top 100 list and the best value teacher training route by schools themselves according to Institute for Fiscal Studies.  

In late 2018 the charity launched its ambitious new strategy to reach two million pupils by 2023. James Westhead helped develop plans that will see many more quality teachers and leaders recruited and supported with the networks and policy environment they need to thrive.  

James Westhead will be moving on in September,at the start of the next academic year, almost exactly ten years since he joined from the BBC, where he was Education Correspondent.  

James Westhead said:  

“The past ten years at Teach First have been an absolute privilege. I feel deeply honoured to have played a role in growing such a unique organisation and helping to build a movement of amazing teachers and leaders who are changing thousands of children’s lives and ultimately will change our schools and country for the better.  

“I feel very fortunate to have worked alongside many brilliant and committed colleagues including our Founder Brett and our current CEO Russell, both of whom I have learned a huge amount from.” 

Russell Hobby CEO of Teach First said: 

“I am personally grateful for James’ many achievements at Teach First.  

“He has helped put teaching on the map as a prestigious career choice, has been a driving force in growing the number of teachers we recruit, and developed partnerships to support our income as we help more young people than ever.   

“You can see the mark of James’ work right across our community and I wish him all the very best for the future.”   

James Westhead will continue at Teach First until September when he leaves to explore new opportunities and projects. The charity will be advertising the vacancy later this month.   


For interview, comment or case study requests, contact the Teach First media team on or call 0203 841 8483.  

About Teach First  

Teach First is a charity with the vision that no child’s educational success is limited by their background. We’ve placed more than 10,000 teachers in disadvantaged areas, supporting more than one million children so far.  

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 Coast, 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. More than half of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching. 

Their two year 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 PGDE training year and their first year as an NQT in their school.  

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