31st August 2008 Articles
In a reinvention of national service, top graduates are once again returning to teaching
Teach First—the scheme that recruits graduates from elite universities to teach in inner-city schools for two years—is turning into one of the most successful social movements in the country and helping to reinvent the idea of post-university public service. In July it was announced that the scheme will grow over the next five years to 850 graduates per year, up from the current figure of 380.
Teach First recruits top graduates, mainly from Oxbridge and the other “Russell group” universities, and trains them intensively in the summer after graduation. The students-turned-teachers are then placed in mutually supportive groups of up to seven (almost never singly) in lower-attaining secondary schools in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and other conurbations.
Teach First was launched five years ago based on the Teach for America scheme in the US. This year’s 380 students were recruited after a tough selection process from nearly 2,000 applicants, all projected to get first-class degrees or 2:1s from top universities. An extraordinary 5 per cent of the entire graduating cohort at Oxford applied this year, attracted by the two-year challenge, the social mission and the CV boost offered by the training and classroom experience at the sharp end.
If you’re a Prospect subscriber, click here to read more.