Some people’s first encounter with Teach First is as a participant on our Leadership Development Programme after they graduate. But, for many, that journey starts much sooner, while they’re at university or even at school.
We asked some of our participants about their early experiences with Teach First. They told us stories of being inspired, of getting valuable skills and of progressing to our graduate programme – some even gaining an early offer for that programme because of their previous engagement with us. Some felt they were on a path into the classroom from the outset but, for others, that first encounter was an unexpected discovery, inspiring them to continue their journey with Teach First.
Tayler Michaels has completed all three of our undergraduate programmes while studying maths at Queen Mary University of London, starting with our Taster Programme – a two-day opportunity to find out more about Teach First through interactive workshops. Tayler will be starting the Leadership Development Programme in 2018, teaching primary:
“I decided to do the Taster Programme after attending a Teach First presentation. When I was growing up, a good education was something I had to struggle for myself so it was an issue that resonated with me. During Taster I was impressed by the impact of Teach First and I wanted to encourage people to be a part of that, so I became a Brand Manager. I loved that role. I was given lots of shocking stats on educational inequality to share with students, and that made me even more passionate. These are the kind of things no one ever tells you. It was more than a job for me.
“I was pretty sure I wanted to go into the Leadership Development Programme at that point but I welcomed the Insight Programme as a chance to try out the more challenging side of teaching. At the end of my placement in a school, during the second week of that internship, I was pretty much absolutely sure.
“The shortcuts in the application process make it feel like one route and, at every step, you’re learning a lot more. Taster is exactly that – it gives you a little taster. Then, as a Brand Manager, you learn so much about what Teach First does. And the internship, Insight, is a chance to see what it’s really like in the classroom and get to make a difference yourself.
“I now know the qualities you need so that you can be the kind of teacher that Teach First want you to be, to have an impact on the lives of disadvantaged children. I’m now more excited than ever to start the Leadership Development Programme.”
George Warren became one of our Brand Managers while studying history and politics at the University of Edinburgh. As a result of taking on this paid, part-time role with Teach First, he gained a place at our assessment centre for the Leadership Development Programme and is now teaching primary:
“Everybody does the Leadership Development Programme for a different reason, but I would say that talking about the benefits of the programme to hundreds of people when I was a Brand Manager made me even more certain about applying and taking up the challenge. I first felt the community drive of Teach First during my training days as a Brand Manager.
“Self-reflection was very important when I was a Brand Manager, and it’s an invaluable skill as a teacher. The ‘fast-track’ aspect from one programme to the other was also very helpful, as it took a lot of the pressure off when I was writing my Leadership Development Programme application.”
Even before I went to uni I knew about Teach First.
David Akata has come full circle with Teach First: He was taught by a Teach First teacher and has now become one himself. Before joining our Leadership Development Programme to teach maths, David also did our Insight Programme – a two-week internship for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) students – while he was studying economics at Nottingham:
“Even before I went to uni I knew about Teach First. My English teacher was a Teach Firster and my encounter with Teach First really influenced me.
“I thought the Insight Programme was a great opportunity to find out more about the Leadership Development Programme. It solidified my plans to apply. And applying for the Leadership Development Programme was simple - because I’d done Insight I was able to skip a couple of steps.
“Insight gave me confidence. I got very good feedback from my placement in a school so I knew the Leadership Development Programme was something I could do. It showed me what I’d need to improve on if I went into teaching, like my delivery – how to ask questions and make things understandable. Breaking down explanations is probably one of the hardest things about teaching.
“Insight is a great opportunity to test yourself out and see if you’d be good at teaching, and see if it would be good for you. You learn a lot in just a short space of time.”