Regional networks understand their communities - we pull together
Whenever Charlotte has faced a challenge she couldn’t overcome alone, the Teach First community was able to help.
Now she’s drawing on its support, to set up a free school designed to give Middlesbrough’s young people more choice over their futures.
For me, Teach First is about the mission. And the community is just how we get things done.
I think when you really embrace it, that’s when you get the most out of it. Since day one, I’ve believed in saying ‘yes’ to everything – I joined all the networks, went to all the events, talked to everybody I could.
Getting teachers’ voices heard beyond the classroom
I’m currently working for a social enterprise The Skills Builder Partnership, helping senior leadership teams to embed what we call the 'eight essential skills for life'. I also co-run the North East Policy Network, which is a centralised, protected space where teachers can discuss the latest policy developments and decide what action to take. It’s an opportunity to engage with policy at a granular level.
The minutes are reviewed by a number of organisations, which means teachers’ voices are heard beyond the classroom. And schools benefit from having their teachers engage and build a real understanding of the policies they’re going to implement.
People pulling together in the North East
As a regional network, it can be challenging to be so far from where policy is made, in London. But the upside is that the North East has a really strong identity and culture, and people from across cohorts really pull together to get things done.
The regional Teach First office is always willing to help, and there are certain well-connected ambassadors you can go to. Then there’s Twitter, too. I’ve yet to come across a problem that couldn’t be solved by the community. If you put a call out, you’ll get the help.
For example, the community made it possible for us to take a group of children to the Teach First Impact Conference in London this year. They’d never been on a train before and were all so excited. It was also through the community that I was able to join a trip to Israel funded by Teach For All, where we looked at how they develop their networks and ambassador programmes. The more you talk to people, the more you find out about things, the more you can use the network.
Designing a school around its community
I’m now part of a group of ambassadors looking at setting up a free school in Teesside, with the support of Reach Academy in Feltham. We’re designing everything from the ground up, based on a ‘cradle to career’ approach that starts with pre-natal classes – because many children are already a long way behind by the age of three – and supports them right up until 18.
It’s about place-based change, which means we ask the community ‘what are the problems you want to see fixed’, then ‘how are we as an institution going to fix them?’ so that every single child has a choice at 18.
Finding your strength of purpose
Whatever it is you’re doing in life, it’s important to know what you’re in it for. For me, I'm in this to help make things better in Teesside, because it’s statistically the worst place for girls to grow up in England and Wales, and young people have less opportunity than elsewhere. I’m not prepared to accept that.
Like Charlotte, if you've completed any of our programmes, that makes you a Teach First ambassador. You are now part of a community changing education for the better. Our community consists of teachers, leaders, policymakers and beyond, bringing their expertise to help unlock the potential in all children. No matter where you've chosen to go after your time with Teach First, as an ambassador, you're a critical part of the solution to ending educational inequality.
Find out more about how you can stay connected and continue to make an impact, below:
If you're interested in developing your career with us, explore our leadership programmes: