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Alternative careers spotlight series: Teach First

University of Warwick Sociology graduate continues her focus on careers in the public, voluntary and charitable sectors with this article on Teach First. Special thanks to current trainee teacher, Patrick Lavery.

At Warwick my perception was that students were often under the impression that they must graduate into a corporate role in order to be successful. Given the apparent emphasis on law, finance and consulting, students value a greater visibility of ‘alternative’ careers on campus. 

About Teach First

Teach First is an educational charity that places top graduates in schools in deprived areas with the aim to close the gap in achievement, access and aspiration between poorer pupils and their more affluent peers. The charity recruits and trains around 1,500 graduates per year on its Leadership Develop Programme, where participants qualify as a teacher after one year and graduate with a postgraduate diploma after the second year. Around 60% of participants stay in the classroom for a third year, with others moving into various roles in charity, the public sector and business.

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What might a Teach First graduate look like?

You will be the type of person who has a passion for helping others. You are resilient, able to manage a demanding workload and prepared to self-reflect to improve your practice. You are patient as you get to grips with behaviour management. Enthusiastic as you try to inspire disadvantaged pupils and, show leadership to make lasting changes in and around your setting.

Hear from a Leadership Development Trainee and Maths Teacher…

Equations on blackboardThis week, I spoke to Patrick Lavery, a current Teach First trainee. Although Teach First have a significant presence on campus, this is an opportunity to read about the experiences, benefits and the daily routine of someone working on their graduate scheme. 

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“I am responsible for teaching over 150 secondary school pupils, ensuring every child makes progress towards their target grades. But it goes beyond that: inspiring pupils to achieve, nurturing and guiding young people to make the right decisions, and creating resources to improve pupil attainment in the classroom.”

Tell me about an average day…

Teaching a Class“I begin the day with a morning briefing before teaching four or five lessons. I usually plan classes and mark student work during free periods or after school. Otherwise, I sometimes work lunch duty and often attend after-school meetings.”

Alongside my day job…

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“Schools have lots of extra-curricular opportunities to get involved in, such as school productions or the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.”

The benefits…

“You are assigned a school based mentor, university tutor and a Teach First Participant Development Lead. Training leads to accredited qualifications; qualified teacher status (QTS)  and a fully funded Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). You are also part of a professional network of Teach First ambassadors.”

How is the grad scheme structured?

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“Before starting in a school, I attended a five-week training course called the ‘Summer Institute’. In September, I began teaching a near-full timetable. Additionally, trainees are asked to attend university around six days in the year, as well as three Saturday conferences. Trainees are assessed by termly observations and a portfolio. We also complete four modules from the university partner, usually a 6,000-word essay.”

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying to the scheme?

Reality Check Ahead“Think carefully about how much time you are willing to invest in this job. To be honest, it is not easy. The workload and emotional strain can be great. However, it is as demanding as it is rewarding and there are some truly brilliant moments in the classroom that give you a real sense of fulfilment and pride. There is never a dull moment while you are making a difference to young people’s lives: it really is a job like no other!”

Want to find out more? 

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Leadership development programme (The grad scheme)

The Insight programme (the internship)

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