Spare a thought for Teach First 'victims'

4th January 2013 at 00:00

In the 1970s I spent three years at Portsmouth College of Education and acquired a teaching certificate. I learned little from my tutors. However, teaching practices were hard work and provided me with sufficient skills to start my career. In theory I should be in favour of Teach First but I am concerned about the lack of time for thinking and consolidation.

According to a few young Teach First participants I chatted to over Christmas, time for reflection is not available because of "full on" timetables. I heard phrases like "hit the ground running", "draconian senior management" and "poisonous atmosphere".

One said: "I get to school at 7.30am and leave at 6pm; after a quick bite I start again and work until about 10pm"; "I work one day every weekend just to survive"; "I never see my friends, go to the gym or do anything other than schoolwork".

My informants expressed concern about the link between Teach First and certain academy chains, which "colours" how support for young Teach First victims is provided.

I asked one if they wanted to continue in teaching as a career after the two-year Leadership Development Programme. "Do I fuck" was the reply. They can't tell anyone else that, though.

Have I acquired an accurate picture or an isolated case or two?

Becky Durston, Retired headteacher, Barnston, Essex.

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