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Exclusive: Teach First turns the corner on declining recruitment

Teacher trainer has the highest number of people signed up to start programme since 2015

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Teacher trainer has the highest number of people signed up to start programme since 2015

Teach First has bucked three years of shrinking cohorts and this summer has the highest number of people signed up to start its programme since 2015, Tes can reveal.

The teacher trainer attributed the increase to enhanced digital marketing and an improved application experience for candidates.

According to figures obtained by Tes, the number of people on Teach First’s training programme, which parachutes high performing graduates into challenging schools for a minimum of two years, peaked at 1,685 in 2015.

The cohort then shrank over the next three years – to 1,441 in 2016, 1,396 in 2017, and 1,259 in 2018.

However, Teach First appears to have reversed this decline with its 2019 cohort. In early January Teach First had signed up 1,473 people, compared to just 1,162 at the same point the previous year.

Russell Hobby, who took over as Teach First’s chief executive in late 2017, said the organisation had “made a number of changes”.

“For all of those people looking for purpose in their careers, we’re doing even more to highlight that teaching in disadvantaged communities can be hugely fulfilling with many benefits,” he said.

“We want to remain one of the largest graduate recruiters but whilst employment rates are high and graduates have lots of choice about their careers, we’ve rightly made a number of changes.”

Mr Hobby said Teach First had “enhanced our marketing across digital platforms to make sure more people know about Teach First”.

“We’ve improved the application experience for candidates. And we’re offering much greater support at every point in the process from starting an application to completing the programme.”

He also pointed to new pilots launched by Teach First, such as ‘Time to Teach’, which is aimed at people switching careers to teaching, and a route for teaching assistants who want to become teachers.

He added: “So far, we’re delighted to have seen a high number of people sign-up to start training this summer, but there are still a number of months to go and still time to apply.

“With pupil numbers growing there’s more we and others can do to get more individuals into teaching. This will take time as well as new and creative efforts from everyone in education, but for every young person to have the opportunities and education they deserve, these efforts are absolutely crucial.”

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