Teach First, the education charity, is recruiting 160 trainee teachers to work in over 70 schools, located in Yorkshire and Humber’s most disadvantaged areas.
Throughout the next two years the trainees will support an estimated 30,000 children to achieve their potential. This is at a time when schools in Yorkshire and the Humber have faced tough teacher recruitment challenges, while the number of pupils and the size of classes continue to grow.
This achievement in Yorkshire and the Humber coincides with the charity recruiting 1,735 trainee teachers nationally to work in schools most in need across England and Wales this year. Including this year’s cohort, Teach First have recruited over 1,381 teachers in London since the charity started in the area in 2009.
2019’s national cohort marks the most diverse national group of teachers in the charity’s history, as they make strides to make sure their programme is at the forefront of developing a teaching workforce as diverse as the pupils in today’s classrooms.
Teach First has also significantly increased their number of trainees teaching subjects in the Yorkshire and the Humber which are harder to recruit for, having grown the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by 56%.
Additionally, those in Yorkshire and the Humber those who chose to teach as a later profession – or ‘career changers’ make up a fifth of the 2019 trainee teacher cohort.
Jo Crossley said: “I was a Barrister for 22 years but had always wanted to be a teacher. Based in Leeds I specialised in family law. Eventually, I began to feel that I wanted to make a difference to families in more of a positive way.
“My mum’s death in 2015 put things into perspective for me and gave me the motivation I needed for a career change - I thought it was now or never. The Teach First programme worked so well for my schedule with four kids and I enjoyed how challenging it was.
"My years as a Barrister gave me useful transferrable skills: I was used to quickly analysing a lot of information, working long hours and speaking confidently in front of an audience – I foolishly thought I’d be a natural at teaching!
“To be honest I really struggled in my first term, but the support I received from my school and my Teach First mentor really made the difference.
"Now I’m Director of English at my school and really relish in passing on my love of literature to my students. Knowing that being in a position of influence can really help maximises the impact on my pupils, I’m keen to keep climbing that ladder to Head Teacher.”
Carol Gormley, Teach First Regional Director in Yorkshire and the Humber said: “Many of the schools with whom we work in Yorkshire and the Humber find it tough to recruit new teachers - especially in our most disadvantaged areas, and we know the students in these schools suffer as a result. We are delighted to have recruited over 150 new teachers in Yorkshire and the Humber to work in our partner schools from September.
“It has been fantastic to see so many people join the profession through our training programme, to come and work in schools across our region in 2019. We know there are more out there from all walks of life who could build a rewarding career in the classroom and we are determined to find them.
“That is why we are equally delighted to have our new programme “Time to Teach” running for Career changers to attract some of those people into the profession who have had a successful career elsewhere but are drawn to the profession.”
To achieve this in a tough recruitment environment, Teach First made a number of successful changes. The charity redoubled their efforts to highlight the huge rewards that come with joining the profession and targeted their advertising and social media to trainees in specific subjects and from a more diverse pool.
In addition, Teach First re-engineered each stage of their recruitment process to improve the overall applicant experience, increasing feedback and face-to-face assessment of candidate potential. While there was no magic bullet, the carefully targeted changes meant the charity saw more high-quality applicants than ever before in their sixteen-year history and more who stayed in the application pipeline all the way through.
The trainees have completed a five-week summer training residential in universities and schools and are now prepared to start at one of Teach First’s partner schools in September. They will teach a reduced timetable in year one while they work towards becoming a fully qualified teacher and gaining a postgraduate qualification in year two. They are supported throughout their two years by Teach First, a school mentor and a university tutor.
The charity is calling on the Prime Minister to unlock the potential in every child and turn the tide of teacher recruitment challenges by increasing school funding, protecting the pupil premium, and urgently address teacher starting salaries and workload.