I really enjoyed reading this post by Heather Mendick today. I would encourage you to read it and follow up on some of the references contained within. Heather argues that Teach First is a form of social class reproduction. This occurs through:
- the accumulation by participants of additional social and cultural capital;
- the reproduction of middle-class values and stereotypes of the working-class ‘other’;
- the obscuring of middle-class advantage through discourses of ‘natural ability’.
The broader politics around Teach First are also explored. In her research, Heather recounts ’TF participants referring to themselves as ‘fire fighters’ and ‘saviours’’ and she asks hows this influences the position and perception of all of the other teachers in our schools (as well as what it says about how Teach First and its teachers view the young people with whom they work?).
In terms of cost, I’m in agreement with Heather when she states that:
In an age of austerity, it is clearly an ideological choice that has led politicians of all stripes to robustly support Teach First, by far the most expensive form of training, while Gove destroys the best value and most effective form of initial teacher education, within universities. As the series has progressed, we’ve seen the ‘tough young teachers’ improve, and the inclusion of a second year teacher who is more self-assured, signals this developmental narrative thread that supports the effectiveness of on-the-job training and thus the move of teacher education into schools.
Thanks for such an informative insight into your research Heather.