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First impressions don't tell the whole story

Your article "Ofsted's approach 'is not backed by research'" (13 September) cites Dr Rebecca Allen's criticism of the government for not commissioning an evaluation of Teach First when it was first launched in 2003. It's a shame you didn't have more space to focus on Dr Allen's own research, published last week, which found that schools partnering with Teach First experienced a statistically significant boost in their GCSE results.

In fact, Dr Allen's research found that Teach First participants were "highly effective on average" and were boosting their students' results by as much as a third of a grade. This resulted in school-wide gains in GCSE results equivalent to about one grade in one of each student's best eight subjects.

Of course we want to know much more about the effectiveness of the teachers we train and how to improve this, and so we are working with a number of leading university research departments as well as increasing the amount of data we collect. We fully support the work of Dr Allen, Professor Robert Coe and other leading academics to make education policy - and teaching - more evidence-based as we believe this is the best way to improve outcomes for students.

James Westhead, Executive director, Teach First.

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