After years of barely getting a mention in the Scottish Parliament, Teach First has cropped up a number of times in recent weeks.
The scheme, which fast-tracks high-achieving graduates into teaching, has long been resisted in Scotland.
Teach First recruits do receive university input for five weeks before they begin working in schools, where they deliver 80 per cent of a teacher’s timetable and begin working towards the Postgraduate Diploma in Education over two years.
Last month, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said in Parliament that she had “met representatives from Teach First and discussed whether it would be possible to adapt its schemes to fit with Scottish education”. But she also cited concerns that many teachers who come through the scheme – versions of which operate in more than 40 countries – may not stay long in the profession.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We have a principle in Scottish education that the people who are teaching in our schools should have a teaching qualification, and I think that that principle is right.”
The first minister was taken to task by Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who said that in the past five years, almost 400 talented graduates had left Scotland to teach elsewhere in the UK “because they were attracted by the very successful Teach First programme”.
Ms Davidson said hundreds of “enthusiastic young teachers could be in our schools right now, but they are not, because Nicola Sturgeon says so”.
Teach First also came up at last week’s meeting of Parliament’s education and skills committee, when Conservative MSP Ross Thomson questioned whether the scheme could be one way of creating “more flexibility to allow highly skilled individuals...to enter teaching”.
England’s former education secretary Michael Gove famously dismissed university-based teacher training as part of the progressive “Blob” that he felt was blocking necessary reform.
The University of Oxford’s Professor Menter said that the move away from universities in English teacher education had “undermined” the consistent supply of teachers – not improved it – and led to teacher training becoming “very variable” and even “haphazard”.
Morag Redford, chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education, said it felt “quite strongly that the [teacher education] model that we have developed in Scotland is a stronger way to develop the workforce”.
A General Teaching Council for Scotland spokeswoman told Tes Scotland that it had “met with Teach First on a number of occasions and, as [education secretary] John Swinney has stated publicly, the principle of meeting the GTCS Standards for Registration before becoming a teacher will continue in Scotland”.
Writing in today’s Tes Scotland, James Westhead, an executive director at Teach First, argues a Scottish programme “would chime with and support many of the Scottish government’s ambitions around attainment and leadership".