David Akata
Maths teacher
Ambassador cohort
2018 Training Programme

Are you up for the challenge of the Teach First Training Programme?

Find out how Teach First trainee David is rising to meet our Training Programme.


Coming from an inner-city Teach First school I already knew quite a lot about what Teach First does. I’ve now gone to a good uni and come out with good grades. A lot of that is down to my Teach First teachers.

Seeing the impact Teach First has made on my life - I don’t want this to sound like a cliché - but the Training Programme is a chance to give something back. And we need more black male teachers in the classroom, so it was something I needed to do.

I like to see kids achieving something, and inspiring them, showing them it can be done. Of course, I’m teaching maths, but I’m teaching them to be better people in society. I’ve got one pupil who used to hate me. He wouldn’t even look at me. Now he sees me in the corridor and says, 'Hi, sir!' That might have been my most rewarding moment so far. It makes me feel good, like I’ve made a difference. Like I’ve changed his ideas.

Be ready to work very, very hard. Do it with heart. Do it because you have the enthusiasm to help kids learn.

I thought I’d be okay with the challenge. I went to a difficult school myself. The biggest challenge I’ve had is working with kids with special educational needs like autism and ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]. I hadn’t been exposed to it before. Even now it’s sometimes difficult to know how to deal with, such as how to break ideas down to be as easy as possible and have everyone gain something from the lesson. I went in thinking 'I’ve got this', but you soon learn there’s always going to be a different challenge to overcome. People in other occupations finish for the day and go home, but I’m taking home my planning. 

There’s a lot of support, though. My subject mentor in school has been a tremendous support - with ideas, resources and one-to-ones on how to go about lessons. The observations from uni have been good too – I’ve had good, detailed feedback. And the Teach First community is great: I’ve got two WhatsApp groups – one for maths teachers in London and one for trainees who started the same time as me. There’s never been a day when I’ve felt I haven’t had enough support.

To anyone who’s thinking of joining the Training Programme, I’d say get as much exposure to working in a school as possible, working as a teaching assistant or doing a placement. Really be prepared for the challenges that will come. Be prepared for good days and bad days. There will be both, but the good will outweigh the bad. Be ready to work very, very hard. Do it because you want to. Do it with heart. Do it because you have the enthusiasm to help kids learn.

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