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FEATURE


LEARNING TO OVERCOME THE POSTCODE LOTTERY


This summer, Teach First became the largest single recruiter of graduates in the UK with over 5,500 graduates having trained with the charity since 2003, but it is not yet satisfied, aiming to recruit over 2,000 participants in 2014/15 and reach 90% of schools that serve low income pupils in England. James Darley, Director of Graduate Recruitment at Teach First, explains why the organisation’s progress is so important.


T


each First has spent over a decade helping to break the shocking link between family income and educational attainment by recruiting graduates with leadership potential to teach in low income communities. Our vision is that no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background and we are developing a network of leaders committed to ending educational inequality. This summer, I was proud to announce the charity had become the largest graduate recruiter in the UK, with 1,261 graduates being recruited and trained this year alone. To mark this milestone, the Prime Minister invited members of my team, head teachers, pupils, Teach First trainees and ambassadors to a reception at Number 10 Downing Street, celebrating the 5,551 who have trained with Teach First since 2003. It was a signifi cant moment. We know that in order to achieve our vision, the public has to be aware that educational inequality exists, believe it is fi xable, and then act to fi x it. It is crucial that the country’s best graduates join our programme, to work towards this vision. While we have seen change for some pupils across some schools, all too often education is a postcode lottery for children from poorer families. Twenty years ago, the problems were in the big cities. Now, some of London’s schools are among the country’s best performing and a more hidden challenge exists in deprived coastal towns and rural, less populous regions of the country; particularly the East and South-East of England. This shift is refl ected in our expansion to rural and coastal communities. The scale of this challenge is great, with 3.6 million children − one in three − living in poverty in the UK. These children are less likely to do well at school, get a decent job and lead a happy, healthy life, securing the future that they want. The stark reality is that children who are


eligible for free school meals, are only half as likely to get fi ve A* - C grades at GCSE as their wealthier peers. A YouGov survey commissioned by Teach First has found that, when confronted with this fact, fewer than 2 in 5 British people think that it will ever be possible for these children to achieve equally well, even though many schools have already proved this wrong. This reinforces why the support of the Prime Minister, and indeed the leader of the opposition, is a powerful message to the country; the next generation of graduates are standing up and addressing this crippling injustice. Since joining nearly ten years ago, I was clear I wanted to design and deliver graduate recruitment the way I believed it should be done; student focused, effi cient, resourceful and effective. I fear the industry I love is becoming ‘Graduate Rejection’ not ‘Recruitment’ − so I am hugely proud of our 1:7 ratio of applicants to hires.


Our model is built around spending time with students,


careers services and academics; with recruiters spending four days a week, year around, on campus. Our selection evaluates our eight competencies twice and four weeks is the average time it takes to go from applying to receiving an offer to join the programme. Taking the time to build relationships, build a brand, and differentiate the way graduate recruitment is done has proved hugely successful to date. Looking towards the future, Teach First has worked with experts to collaborate on fi ve ambitious goals that will follow the journey of a child through education and set out what change is needed. This means we must remain ambitious and we will continue to grow strongly. It is a very bright future for Teach First, but most importantly we want that future to be bright for the pupils we serve. That is ultimately why we exist. www.teachfi rst.org.uk


GRADUATE RECRUITER 15


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