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What Is Teach First?

Teach First is an independent educational charity movement founded in the UK to tackle the problem of educational disadvantages. "Educational disadvantage" refers to social and economic circumstances which limit a person's achievement and access to education. Teach First not only teaches leadership and teaching skills for educational positions but also provides additional training that can benefit those who want an alternative career. The recruitment process is challenging and competition for these positions is high, so it is imperative that you prepare for each new assessment. Teach First recruitment is carried out by Teach First themselves, unlike other forms of teacher training, where you apply through the UCAS Teacher Training portal.

Teach First Requirements

Teach First is available in 12 different subjects, including business studies, music, primary education, religious education, English, maths, science, geography, history, and modern foreign languages. Demand is high for some of these subjects, so be sure to apply early to reserve a place.

The minimum requirements for eligibility to apply to the Teach First Leadership Development Programme are as follows:

  • A 2.1 degree or above and at least 300 UCAS points.
  • A grade C or equivalent in GCSE maths and English. A grade C in one science GCSE is also required if applying for a primary role.
  • The flexibility to work anywhere designated to you within the regions of Teach First.
  • Have a degree or A-levels that satisfy Teach First's teaching subject requirements.

Teach First Competencies

Throughout your application process, you will be assessed against eight competencies or skills. These competencies are:

  • Humility, respect, and empathy
  • Interaction
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Planning and organising
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience
  • Self-evaluation

Teach First Application

The first stage of the recruitment process is the online application form. Teach First recruits on a rolling basis, so it is advisable to get your application form in as early as possible. To start your application, you must register on the website to create an account. You are also asked to state your preferred area of teaching on your application form.

The application form contains a set of questions regarding the required competencies:

  • Knowledge – What do you believe are the more important parts of the Leadership Development Programme in order for you to make the biggest impact in the classroom? (150 words)
    What excites you the most about the long term affect your time in the Leadership Development Programme could have on your pupils? (150 words)
  • Humility, respect, and empathy – Think of a time when you made a commitment (teaching, charity, or voluntary work) and outline the role. How did you adapt to work with that group effectively and what did you learn from the experience? (150 words)
  • Problem solving – Think of a problem you have faced, within a workplace or extra-curricular setting, where the conventional or existing approach was not suitable. Please outline the situation and why the existing approach was not suitable. (150 words)
    What process did you go through to create your new approach? (150 words)
  • Leadership – Think of a time you were in a position of responsibility and where you 'went the extra mile' to ensure success for yourself, team, or workplace. Please describe how you went above and beyond what was expected of you and what you achieved. (150 words)
    How do you think your experience in this role will help you succeed on the Leadership Development Programme? (150 words)
  • Leadership – Think of a time where you led a team and had to show resilience in your role to ensure you achieved the team’s objectives. Explain the challenges you faced and how you ensured success for the team as the leader. (150 words)
    What skills did you develop in this situation that you will be able to transfer to the classroom and how do you think they will help you as a teacher? (150 words)

Teach First application tips include planning and writing each answer on a separate paper first to ensure that you cover all the information you need in your answer. Try to use a different example for each competency, and organise your answer around the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to ensure that you cover all the important points.

Teach First Assessment Centre

Graduates will be invited to attend a Teach First Assessment Centre once they pass the online application and meet specific requirements. Throughout the day you are assessed against the competencies listed above. The best approach is to prepare each activity individually and thoroughly. Activities at the Teach First Assessment Centre can be taken in any order, and include:

  • Sample teaching lesson and debrief
  • Case study and debrief
  • Competency based interview
  • Sample teaching lesson

You will be asked to deliver a seven-minute lesson at the assessment centre which must be prepared beforehand. You will receive details for the lesson one week before the assessment centre date. Once the lesson is over, you are required to evaluate your own performance. Assessors are looking for good teaching skills and the ability to communicate with pupils in an appropriate and creative manner.

Case Study

The case study exercise is designed to test how you think, interact, solve problems, and express solutions. An assessor will then debrief you, asking you to evaluate your performance and the performances of others. 

Teach First Competency Based Interview

The third and final task at the Teach First assessment centre is an interview with a member of the recruitment team. This interview is designed to assess how you fit with the desired competencies for Teach First teachers. You also have a chance in this interview to ask questions about the scheme, so be sure to think of questions in advance. The interview will last for approximately 30 minutes.

To prepare for the interview, review your answers on the application form to remind yourself of what you wrote. You can use the examples on the application form again, but also plan examples that fit more than one competency, depending on the questions you are asked in interview. Prepare an answer for each competency. Use the STAR method to organise your preparation so that the answers come out in order on the day. Research Teach First and the Leadership Development Programme to demonstrate that you know about the job you are applying for.

Some Teach First interview questions include:

  • When have you tackled a problem creatively?
  • How have you responded to a situation in which your authority was challenged?
  • When have you shown leadership qualities?
  • How have you dealt with failure?
  • Give an example of a time when you showed initiative?

Once you have pulled together all your examples, answers and research, your final stage of preparation is to practise answering these questions in a mock interview situation. JobTestPrep’s Skype based interviews are carried out by a trained assessor who can give you feedback on your performance in the interview. If you impress at the assessment centre, you will be offered a job with Teach First. This offer is on condition that you pass the professional skills tests.

Professional Skills Tests

Your job offer with Teach First depends on whether you have passed the nationally set professional skills tests. All prospective teachers must pass these tests in order to complete a teacher's training course. There are two sets of tests in the in the professional skills tests:

  • Literacy skills tests – This set of tests examines your English language skills with spelling, punctuation, grammar, and comprehension questions.
  • Numeracy skills tests – This set of tests is designed to measure your ability to use numbers. Questions include both mathematics problems and numerical reasoning. 

Prepare for Teach First

Teach First is a popular graduate scheme. It entails a six week Leadership Development Programme (over the summer), followed by two years of working at a school as you work your way towards obtaining a PGCE. Although the programme continues to grow, the selection criteria are exacting, and you have to perform your best at each stage. Prepare with JobTestPrep, and improve your performance on the tests.

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