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Teach First Graduate Scheme Review

  • Work/Life Balance

  • Practical Skills Learnt

  • Live Up To Expectations

What is a typical day like for you?

I usually get into school at around 7.45. No two days are the same and it very much depends on your timetable but on average, over a week, two thirds of my time are spent teaching and the remaining third is consumed with marking, dealing with troublesome kids, planning lessons, staff meetings and a range of other admin tasks. It’s the sort of job where “you may be stressed but you are never bored”.

What are the things that interest you about your job?

I love the variety you get from teaching as no two days are the same, you also get freedom to set things up such as a sports team or after school club. The job is challenging and rewarding; however, sometimes it takes a while to see the benefit from the effort you put into, it’s not always an immediate payoff. I also really like thinking of ways to help the kids I teach become interested in topics that they would otherwise not be, making maths fun has been a real challenge!

What sort of hours are you working at the moment?

About 50 hours per week.

Are there times of the year that are busy/quiet?

I teach kids upto GCSE level so at the moment its quite quiet as exams have just finished.

What skills do you need to do your job?

You need to be very organised. I thought I was, but this job has shown me the meaning of the word! It is crucial that you have good motivational skills, which is something you learn and get better at as you go through the programme. Creative thinking is important as you have to think through kids eyes and work out what the kids will enjoy in terms of your lesson plan. Finally you have to have a real passion for your subject and be a positive person as the job is stressful!

How many people in your team?

There are 12 other teachers in my department but it depends on the school and department.

Are you involved in a work social activity? And how do you fit in with the teaching staff?

The other teachers are great and a few of them came through the programme so they are very supportive. With regard to the other teachers who are part of Teach First, it’s a pretty sociable programme and there are monthly events run where you get to meet up with the other graduates on the scheme who form my experience have been a really nice bunch of people.

How does the school selection work? Can you be placed in the middle of nowhere?

Its highly unlikely you will be placed in the middle of nowhere…You pick a region (Either London, Yorkshire, North West, Midlands or West Midlands) and you pick an area. I think you are 99% guaranteed to be placed within the area you opt and I haven’t heard of anyone who wasn’t. Within that area you can be placed a fair distance from where you choose to live, I know a couple of people with 45-60 minute commutes but that’s no worse than a lot of my friends who work in other industries.

How much formal training did you receive?

After graduating we had 6 weeks of training, 3 of those weeks were spent in the region you will be working and three were spent at Warwick university. The teaching is part theory training and part subject specific (to your area of teaching). You also teach in a different school to your selected school for a bit.

Where are most of the other graduates from?

All from the UK from Russel group universities however Teach First are expanding and I know that in my year they recruited in 25 universities whereas this year they will be recruiting from 50 universities.

What was the interview process like?

There is an online application, then you have a final round interview split into three parts, first there is an interview in which you explain why you want to do Teach First, then there is a simulated 7 minute classroom where you teach and finally a group exercise. The final round is run by people who have done the programme and doesn’t feel like a “grilling”. I quite enjoyed my final round interview and met some really nice people there.

So what qualifications do you get doing Teach First?

At the end of your first year you will receive your PGCE, which makes you a qualified teacher (you have to complete a small IT, maths and English test too but this is much of a formality). This runs alongside a masters in leadership that you are eligible to continue into your second year or pick up at a later date if you would like a bit of a break from studying!

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

I am not really sure, I think that is part of the reason I did teach first…The programme is sponsored by a number of large companies who offer the opportunity to undertake internships so there are plenty of options available after the programme, that is assuming you don’t stay in teaching, which some people choose to do.

What/where did you study at undergrad?


What did you get?


What skill do you wish you had or could take a course in that would make you better at your job?

I wish I was better at motivating the students, it can be really hard to get a class to focus on something they have no interest in; however, this is an area that I have noticed an improvement in and I hope to get better at with more experience.

So is the truth of it that you spend your day being chased around by an unruly mob of children?

Its not just crowd control, some of the kids I teach are far more intellectual than I thought and there are plenty of kids at the school that really want to learn, you can make a real difference with those kids. Some of the worst kids are far more difficult to handle than I ever imagined too...I have found myself being far stricter with them than I would ever have imagined…If only my former teachers could see me!

What was the first day like?

I was surprisingly well prepared and not as nervous as I thought I would be, the training we had beforehand prepares you remarkably well for most situations.

How many weeks holiday do you get a year?

You get 13 weeks a year; however, its not all golfing and beach holidays! There are essays set that count towards your qualifications and these are usually set to coincide with holidays, you can also be asked to help with revision classes or use the time to prepare lesson plans….that being said compared to my friends who work in finance I can’t complain and I do like having a lie in for six weeks over the summer!

Finally what's the funnies thing that’s happened at work?

Every day something happens that make you laugh…The kids often take things I say literally…which is always amusing when its “raining cats and dogs”!






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