Have you got what it takes to stand in front of a class of children from low-income communities and help raise their academic achievements, hopes for the future and chance of success in life?
Our Leadership Development Programme offers you the opportunity to give something back, as you train to be a teacher and leader to the young people who need you the most. Here, you’ll discover in the words of individuals who’ve already taken on our two-year programme:
- why heading into the classroom is worth the challenge, giving you the opportunity to use your intelligence, personality and drive in a position that comes with great responsibility – and great rewards;
- how joining Teach First enables you to make a real and enduring impact on a daily basis, both during and after the programme;
- and how you’ll become part of a powerful support network of individuals united by the same vision, both from the 10,000 people who’ve joined our programme so far, and from the professional mentoring you have access to on the programme.
Take on the challenge (and why it’s worth it)
“I suddenly realised that not everyone has a sole focus on doing well at school. Actually, no – they’ve got much bigger problems they’re facing at home.”
Mike Wilson, who joined the Leadership Development Programme in 2005
Young people from low-income families tend to achieve less at school than those from wealthy backgrounds. Mike has seen that first-hand. It’s a problem that’s bigger in the UK than almost anywhere else in the developed world. But, as Mike also knows, this can be changed.
In 2005 he joined our Leadership Development Programme, heading to the front of the classroom as a maths teacher and role model for young people in a low-income community in London:
“I had toyed with the idea of going to the City into a finance-related career. It was very appealing because of the financial incentives, but I did want to try teaching. I wanted to see, could I make a difference? There were some challenging times which made me question that. Why was I doing something where I was up against challenges, working harder than my friends were at the time? But I'm really glad I stuck with it, because the rewards I've got from making that difference, from being involved in changing lives, have far outweighed any other considerations.”
Mike is now headteacher of a school in Dover. Of course, after completing our programme, which offers an advanced qualification in both education and leadership, many of our participants also use the skills they’ve learned to move into different fields – becoming everything from high-ranking civil servants to management consultants – but, whatever path they take afterwards, our participants tell us they’ve relished the chance to give something back and to use their intelligence, personality and drive in a position that comes with great responsibility – and great rewards.
Maksim Mijovic joined our programme in 2013, teaching maths in London, and is now a management consultant at PwC. In our video “Have you got what it takes?” he says:
“I could see that this was going to be a huge challenge but that I was going to grow massively from it… The classroom is an incredible, complex, motivating, stimulating environment. You’re coming in there faced with 30 children and in that brief encounter you have to overcome all their preconceptions and reach them and give them that knowledge, enthusiasm and motivation that you have.”
Dan Flanagan, who served in the British Army before joining our programme in 2012 to teach primary in the North West, adds:
“Although I had served and travelled in a number of countries around the world, I arrogantly thought that what I had seen and experienced abroad gave me an insight into how things were in this country. I simply did not see how bad the problem of educational disadvantage really was.”
As Dan knows, the problem of so many children from poorer families failing at school, regardless of their ability, is shocking. But for Dan, like Maksim and Mike and so many of our participants, it was a challenge he wanted to rise to. And you, too, could join our movement to end educational inequality and become a role model for the young people who need you the most.
Make an enduring impact
Since Teach First began in 2003, we have placed 5,000 teachers in London, and schools in the capital have moved from being the lowest-performing in England to the highest. The figures suggest that our Leadership Development Programme enables you to have real impact – and this is reflected in what our participants tell us about their day-to-day experiences in the classroom.
For Jack Green, who joined our programme in 2015, teaching primary in London:
“It's brilliant when you get to May time and you can look back at where the children were at the start of the year to where they are now. The child who couldn't write three sentences in an hour at the start of the year but can now write you three paragraphs of fantastic sentences, or the child who couldn't do their five times table but can now lead the rest of the class in a five times table song, are the real high points.”
And Lena Khudeza, a 2009 participant who taught science in the West Midlands, says:
“Some of the experiments we did in the classroom, like dissections, meant a lot of pupils were quite squeamish at first, but by the end of it they were all digging into the hearts and lungs. I would hear them go around school telling other pupils and teachers: 'Miss Khudeza’s class does dissections. Why can’t we do them?' That was a really good feeling.”
As Lena and Jack have found, our Leadership Development Programme enables you to make a crucial difference you can see every day. And, as you progress on the programme, you’ll have the opportunity to expand your impact on disadvantaged young people even further, taking on extra responsibilities in school, such as by establishing new clubs, mentoring pupils or becoming a head of year.
And it doesn’t end there. At least 23 individuals who’ve completed our programme have already gone on to become headteachers – including Max Haimendorf, who became the youngest secondary headteacher in the UK at the age of 29, and whose school has been rated the best non-selective school in England.
And individuals who’ve left the classroom can also continue to make a powerful impact, including Soo Mi Do, who joined our programme in 2009 to teach maths in London. Soo Mi became an accountant at PwC after the programme and helped launch an initiative called PwC Classrooms, mentoring children from low-income backgrounds to help them gain access to professional opportunities. When you join our programme, you’re joining a widespread movement for social change, and you can continue to lead and influence the fight against educational inequality, wherever your career takes you afterwards.
Lucian Huxley-Smith, who joined our programme in 2015, teaching English in London, says:
“I've grown up more the last nine months than I think I had for the previous nine years. I now no longer feel that any challenge is insurmountable. I'm filled with a greater confidence that, anything that comes my way, I will be able to take it on. It may not be easy, but that doesn't mean it's not doable.”
Draw on a powerful support network
The challenge of educational inequality is undeniably huge, but our participants often tell us how powerful they find the support networks that accompany our Leadership Development Programme.
For science teacher Lena:
“The ‘out of school hours’ element of the Leadership Development Programme is really important because it enables you to go back to your network and dissect what you’re doing in the classroom, what you’re doing professionally and ways you can improve in those areas. It taught me you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – it’s not about revolutionising teaching by yourself. Learn from your colleagues and people that have done the scheme before you.”
Similarly, English teacher Lucian adds:
“I have felt supported every step of the way. I've never felt left alone at any time with Teach First. Any time I'm feeling like I'm struggling to meet the challenge, other participants are your key network. We all have a common goal and having that support network is unquestionably one of the most useful things I have. We go for a beer, discuss what went well, moreover what didn't go so well, and have that common understanding that we're all going through this together.”
More than 10,000 individuals have joined our Leadership Development Programme since 2003, and you could be among them, benefiting from a network of individuals united by their vision and goal. What’s more, throughout the programme you’ll have ongoing coaching and guidance from your mentors at Teach First and in school.
In headteacher Mike’s words:
“There was a coach assigned to me and that's something that really helped me all the way through my journey. It was something I relied on quite heavily actually – the ability to take a step back every now and then and reflect on how things were going. That relationship was very helpful in allowing me to reflect back to those first thoughts of becoming a teacher, and the vision of Teach First to give a good education to all children regardless of their background. That gave me the inspiration and the courage to carry on.”