Teach First: coming to a school near you

27th June 2014 at 01:00
Charity wants to repeat the `London effect' around Britain

Hundreds more schools will be able to obtain staff from Teach First as the recruiter of high-flying graduates aims to repeat its success in London in more parts of Britain, TES can reveal.

News of Teach First's expansion comes as a report credits the charity with being one of four "key" reasons for the incredible transformation of the capital's state schools since the turn of the millennium. The scheme has already grown outside London, but now it wants to work with bigger groups of schools in their local areas.

Sam Freedman, research director at Teach First, said: "While we have seen significant improvements across many schools in England and Wales, and especially in London and other big cities, a number of challenges remain, particularly in coastal and rural areas."

The charity is aiming to repeat the London effect by changing its eligibility criteria. At present, for a school to qualify, more than half its pupils must be in the bottom 30 per cent of the government's Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index.

From September, a new points system, welcomed by the government, will make it easier for other schools with relatively low test and exam results - particularly for disadvantaged pupils - to join. The number of eligible secondaries in England will climb from 967 to 1,187, and primaries from 4,794 to 5,353.

A report published today by the CfBT Education Trust and the Centre for London thinktank identifies Teach First, the London Challenge school-improvement scheme, the introduction of academies and local authority support as the "key interventions" that led to the capital's recent educational success. It notes that pupils in London's most deprived neighbourhoods are 50 per cent more likely to achieve five A*-C GCSEs including English and maths than their peers in the South East.

Tony McAleavy, the CfBT's research director, said the policies that led to London's turnaround could be replicated in other countries and that talks were already taking place with senior World Bank economists about the lessons in the report. "We know the world will be interested in the London story," he said.

But others argue that London's schools may also be benefitting from prosperity and rising aspiration that could be harder to replicate elsewhere. Meanwhile, another report, published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on Monday, concludes that it is London's primary schools, rather than its secondaries, that are responsible for the turnaround.

Mr McAleavy said the IFS' suggestion that the success was rooted in the national numeracy and literacy strategies, which were piloted in the capital, "just doesn't make sense", adding: "I don't think a group of London GCSE teachers today would find that remotely convincing."

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