Teach First apologises for investment banker tweet

Charity admits controversial tweet sent ‘wrong message’ and says it wants more Teach Firsters to stay in teaching

Teach First has apologised after highlighting how one of its recruits went on to a career in investment banking

Teach First has apologised for a tweet that highlighted how one of its alumni left teaching to go into investment banking.

The charity was set up to recruit top graduates to teach in challenging schools for a minimum of two years, allowing them to move to more lucrative careers if they chose to afterwards. In practice, large numbers of Teach Firsters have stayed on in the profession.

In a tweet sent yesterday promoting one of its networking events, the organisation highlighted the career path of one former Teach Firster.

It said: “Sanna graduated from KCL in 2009 in computing, going straight on to the Teach First programme in London. She now runs her own independent consultancy in investment banking. Where will #teaching take you? Hear from Sanna on Thursday."

The message provoked a barrage of criticism on Twitter.

Andy Hargreaves, an influential education academic who is a professor at Boston College and the University of Ottowa, wrote: “Teach First. Leave Fast. Not the way to build a true profession."

Others described it as a “dreadful message”, and one person said it showed “everything that’s wrong with teacher training – in one tweet”.

Teach First has faced previous criticism for the number of its trainees who leave the profession after a short period. Critics have also pointed to the higher costs of training teachers through Teach First, compared with other routes.

'Our job is to make teaching too good to leave'

However, John Blake, director of strategy and policy for Now Teach, which aims to encourage experienced professionals to retrain as teachers, raised concerns about the reaction to the original tweet.

He wrote: "I always thought one of the great advantages of TF was that, one day, politics, commerce, industry and other professions would be full of people who have experience of teaching and are prepared to sensibly support the education system as a result."

Teach First this morning apologised for the tweet, writing: “Sorry. This wasn't the right message. We want to attract a wide range of people to teaching.

“Some will do other things but we want more of them to thrive and want to stay. We're doing more to support this – inc projects to support returning to teach and in-school career pathways.”

And Teach First chief executive Russell Hobby wrote: “So, not good tweet from us last night. Let me make clear: teaching is an end in itself, not a means to some other end. And we want to work with colleagues across the system to create the conditions where as many people as possible can stay.”

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