Catrin Green
Headteacher at Oasis Academy Coulsdon
Programme cohort
2007 Training Programme

Teach First trainees just have this passion to improve

Catrin Green is a Teach First ambassador and headteacher at Oasis Academy Coulsdon. Here, she shares her journey with Teach First.

I came across Teach First at a careers fair in 2007. I knew I wanted to do something that had worth and that would give back. I’d spent a year in industry as part of my genetics degree working on cancer research, but I wanted a more people-facing career.

I knew that I loved working with children from working as a teaching assistant in New Zealand. I also knew that I didn’t want to spend another year at university doing a PGCE. I was ready to get cracking with a new challenge!

I’ve been at Oasis Academy Coulsdon ever since – as trainee, Head of Science, Deputy Head, becoming headteacher in 2019.

Teach First trainees helped turn the school around

A lot of our pupils experience serious challenges and we teach a higher than average number of children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

This contributes to behaviour and attendance issues due to some children struggling with their mental health and feeling like they don’t belong.

When I joined the school, it was in Ofsted special measures and the number of pupils enrolling was falling. Only 23 families had applied for a place that year, and children had to travel for around an hour to get here.

Oasis Academy is the third school on the site – the previous two schools here failed.

Teach First trainees have helped us to turn things around. We’re now oversubscribed.

Amazing trainees

Half the leadership team here – including our assistant principal and deputy head – are Teach First ambassadors. We hire trainees through Teach First as we know the majority of them stay in education – even if they don’t stay at our school.

We aim to support their career as we know they’ll be amazing wherever they go.

The quality of trainees that we get is much higher than from other routes. What really sets them apart is that they want to learn, and to keep learning on the job. They have the highest expectations and a real desire to self-improve. 

They’re much less dependent than other trainees on being told what to do. They’ve just got this passion to improve, that’s the crux of it.

They become really good, really quickly

The training given by Teach First has a great impact on trainee development. They become really good, really quickly, and make a huge difference to the school.

They progress beyond expectations – you can even give them Year 11 classes as you just trust them to deliver. Teach First trainees change the way their students see them so quickly thanks to the care and devotion they show.

A Year 9 child who has never said anything positive about a teacher recently told me to give our trainee a pay rise!

It helps that there is a similar way in how Teach First trainees are taught to teach and how our school carries out professional development, using instructional coaching underpinned by research.

Being part of the Teach First community means trainees don’t just get good ideas from school, but from every direction.

What you get with a Teach First trainee that you don’t necessarily see is that invisible network of support and community that they come with.

They just get on with it

Some training routes can be difficult for our school because of the demands placed on timetabling, but with Teach First it’s easy to manage.

The trainee can do their role and not be out of school all the time. They come in with their timetable and get on with it.

Excellence for all children

There’s a real link between Teach First’s vision and our own values. As a trust, we’re very much about inclusion, especially for students who face the biggest challenges.

We believe in excellence for all children, and we do what is in our gift to support this by giving an excellent education.

We’re relentless in giving the same kinds of opportunities to all children, whatever their background. They all go on a residential trip, visit an art gallery and go to a museum, for example.

We build a sense of belonging and family through activities such as Fun Fridays (think karaoke competitions and rowing or sumo wrestling challenges).

It's important to us to rebuild a sense of togetherness that was lost during the pandemic, and to inject some sheer joy into school life.

Our rigorous selection process finds people with the skills and spark to make a brilliant teacher. Work with us to hire trainees who’ll make the biggest impact on your school and pupils – and a lasting difference in education.

Learn more about hiring trainee teachers.

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