Pupils in the playground of a Teach First partner school

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Four Teach First trainees who were destined to be teachers.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

That age-old question which, more often than not, flummoxes the respondent. But what if you've always known where your career path would lead? And what if that career path is one of the most rewarding careers out there – teaching?

58% of our former trainees are currently in a teaching role, and research shows that they're also seven times more likely to progress into school leadership positions than teachers following other routes into the profession.

We're always looking for great people to join our programme, through which you'll train to become a fully-qualified teacher in the schools that need the most help, while being paid from the outset.

We spoke to some of our trainees for whom teaching is a way of life, discovering how joining the Teach First Leadership Development Programme helped them to reach their destined career paths.

Joanne Crossley, teacher, Bradford
I'd always dreamed of becoming a teacher, and it was still what I intended to do when I graduated from Oxford. But my mum put a stop to it. She was a primary school deputy head at the time and she felt I was destined for something 'better'. Wanting to outdo an older cousin of mine – a solicitor – I decided to become a barrister. And, for 20 years, that's what I did.

Occasionally my dream to become a teacher resurfaced until, in 2016 – 25 years after graduating – I suddenly realised it was now or never. So I applied for the Teach First Leadership Development Programme and began my teacher training at a special measures school in Bradford. My first year in the classroom was harder than anything else I’ve ever done in my life. And then a bit harder than that, with more hard on top. But every day I jump out of bed, as each day brings challenges and joy in equal measure.

I started my teaching career 25 years later than planned, but Teach First meant my long-held dream could become a reality.

Matthew Martin, teacher, Barnet
I always thought I wanted to work in the city. Yet when I was studying at school, sixth form and university, I always found myself helping and teaching others; I helped peers with A-level coursework, delivered some mock lessons to younger pupils at my school and tutored others while at university.

I finally decided to stop fighting it and embrace the profession I was naturally drawn to and was good at

When I graduated I signed up to the Leadership Development Programme with a view to keeping my options open and seeing how it went for the first two years. But when I stepped into the classroom for the first time I finally decided to stop fighting it and embrace the profession that I was naturally drawn to and was good at, and from the very outset I absolutely loved it and was in my element.

Without the Teach First programme, I don't think I would have been brave enough to take a chance on this career, but I'm so glad I did; it’s what I’m meant to do.

Aisha Patel and pupils

Aisha Patel, Head of Year, Middlesex (pictured)
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher: there are home videos of me as a five-year-old with a whiteboard and all my friends lined up on the kitchen floor.

I attended a Teach First partner school in a low-income community as a pupil, so when it came to pursuing my dream, I was drawn to the Teach First route. The fact that you could go straight into the classroom and get paid was a big benefit, and once I got to know more about Teach First's ethos I knew it was the right training path for me; they invest so much time in you. And it’s individual, bespoke support from lots of different people.

Fran Grimes, Head of Year, Hounslow
I joined the Teach First programme in 2013 as a trainee science teacher in the North East. I loved my school, but seeing my peers with fluid careers made me wonder if there was something out there I could love more. So after two years I took the hard decision to leave in order to experience something new.

I found a job at an education organisation, which I really enjoyed, but it quickly dawned on me that I missed being in the classroom. And it was around this time I saw a head of department job advertised at my former school. Applying for it was a long shot, but having developed strong leadership skills through the Teach First programme, I had the confidence to give it a go, and I was thrilled when I was offered the position.

Going back into teaching was really exciting and the skills I’d developed over the previous year helped me to think more strategically. I’m now working as a Head of Year at a new school and I don’t regret my time out of the classroom at all – in many ways it helped me to realise that teaching is the job I want for life. 

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