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Teacher recruitment in low-income areas boosted by financial help to relocate

Teach First's autumn cohort of trainee teachers more than doubled from 2022, with a pilot scheme giving financial support partly attributed to the growth.

With the new teachers starting work in their placement schools this half term, the charity’s autumn cohort has grown from 121 trainees in its first group in 2022 to 268 in 2023.

The charity is focused on getting high potential trainees to schools in low-income communities and is combating cost of living pressures faced by recruits by offering innovative grants to relocate or commute to these areas.

The scheme was launched in June, with over a third of the autumn cohort (101 out of 268) taking up support to relocate or commute to school.

As part of the pilot, trainees were offered a one-off grant off £2,000 if they relocated to take up a place in Teach First’s Autumn Institute.

Those who decided to commute rather than relocate were eligible for a grant of £1,000, provided it costs them more than £150 a month to commute to their employment school.

For many, the scheme has proved invaluable in allowing them to start their teaching career, helping hundreds of children in some of the UK’s most underserved areas.

Kathryn Blake, Teach First trainee English teacher based in Middlesborough, said:

“I grew up in the North East but moved to Scotland for university. I then worked in hospitality in Glasgow while completing a master’s degree in linguistics. As I was the first person in my family to get a degree, I wanted to be a role model for young people who could really thrive at university but may not see it as a route for them.

“I applied for Teach First and once accepted, I was approached about teaching in the North East, coincidentally in an area very close to where I grew up. The move came with a big financial cost, but thankfully, Teach First supported me with a relocation grant to help with moving expenses.

“Receiving the grant was an incredible weight off my shoulders. Changing careers in your 30s can be really daunting and combining that with moving into a new home adds to the stress. Having access to this kind of financial support really does help. Now, I can focus on rediscovering my home region as an adult and getting to know my supportive new colleagues and brilliant pupils.

Teach First CEO Russell Hobby said:
“Getting great teachers into schools serving low-income communities is vital, and I’m pleased that, once again, our Autumn Institute has done just that.

“The job satisfaction of seeing young people thrive in education and life is unrivalled, but the cost-of-living crisis is leading some to reject teaching as simply unviable. We need to make it possible for more people to start teaching, particularly in the communities facing the greatest challenges, and our innovative grant scheme has played a part in doing that this year.

“Over the long-term, salaries in teaching get more competitive, but this is about increasing access at that initial stage, and we hope that our pilot will give policymakers a blueprint for change and allow every child to fulfil their potential.”
Media contact: For more information, please contact Jacob Archbold, Media Officer at Teach First, or 020 3862 8085

Editors' notes:

  1. 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.
  2. Kathryn Blake’s full case study can be shared upon request.
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