Why I quit Teach First

Teach First may be one of the UK's biggest graduate recruiters, but it isn't always good for graduates. I'm out, says Teach First defector and soon-to-be-ex science teacher Hattie Denington*.

by Hattie Denington
Credit: Adam Ferrari/Flickr
Credit: Adam Ferrari/Flickr

This article was first published on July 11 2013.

Figures published by graduate market research company High Fliers on Wednesday showed Teach First has become the UK’s top graduate employer. According to its findings, the charity took on 1,261 fresh-faced grads this year. I was one of last year’s intake, but as a soon-to-be-ex science teacher and Teach First ‘participant’, this news now evokes mixed feelings.

Teach First was founded by former McKinsey consultant Brett Wigdortz (now OBE) to introduce exceptional graduates into struggling schools with the idea that the grads’ enthusiasm and knowledge would be so infectious it would transform troubled teens’ lives.

To an extent, it works: I’ve met some fantastic people and outstanding teachers during my time with Teach First. David Cameron has been quoted saying the programme was ‘born from a real passion for education – a belief in its power to change lives’. Most Teach First teachers subscribe to his outlook and do their best to make it a reality. It brings people into education who may not have considered it otherwise, and many of these go on to become exceptional teachers.

But its survival-of-the-fittest model, and its focus on expansion at any cost, are problematic.

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