'Put Teach First graduates into primaries'

MPs want initiative for high-fliers to be extended amid growing concern over maths standards

Richard Vaughan

MPs have called for the graduate teaching programme Teach First to be extended to primaries.

The plea came during a public accounts committee meeting investigating the standard of maths teaching in primary schools. A report released last month by the National Audit Office revealed that nearly a quarter of pupils are not achieving the expected standard.

At their meeting on Monday, MPs said the Teach First initiative was the obvious tool to get gifted maths graduates into deprived primary schools that are falling furthest behind in the subject.

Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough and committee chairman, said: "I think all of us agree that we would like to see the Teach First initiative expanded into the primary sector."

A Teach First pilot scheme is already under way, with 10 placements established this year for modern languages graduates.

A Teach First spokeswoman said the pilot would be expanded in 2009, creating 30 new placements next year. "For the time being we have not examined other possible subjects for the initiative to be expanded into, although we will be conducting a review by the end of 2009," she said. "It is a clean slate to see how successful it is."

The DCSF said following the pilot in primary schools, there were no plans to expand it further.

Plans to roll out Teach First into further education were denied by the organisation, although it conceded that there have been some instances of its graduates moving into the sector after their two-year placement. The call from MPs to extend the project into the primary sector is the latest in a series of endorsements of Teach First.

In October, The TES revealed that a Teach First graduate with just three years' classroom experience and only six weeks' teacher training had been named as the headteacher of Solomon Academy in Marylebone, central London.

Max Haimendorf, 29, will take over the academy in September after a teaching post at Uxbridge High School in west London, where he rose from science teacher to head of year in three years.

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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