The failure of Teach First: the retention chart they didn’t want you to see

Three cheers for researchers from the University of Buckingham, who have produced an analytical report into the state of initial teacher education in 2012. Using data supplied by the DfE themselves, they have demonstrate the abject failure of Teach First, compared to other training routes, to educate teachers who enjoy a long career in teaching. This is the table they, Teach First, didn’t want you to see:

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The chart compares retention in the same after training on the various secondary routes. As you can see, students from university-based PGCE courses and SCITTs fare in a similar way (with, broadly speaking, 75% remaining in teaching after five years). But, as the report itself says, the striking thing:

… is the way the retention from the flagship Teach First trainees drops from 93% to 40% after five years. This is not unexpected. On this scheme, graduates from the leading universities commit themselves to serve for two years in challenging schools before pursuing their intended careers. It is essentially 40% gained for teaching rather than 60% lost, but given Teach First’s high profile and strong government backing it is not necessarily what people want to hear.

Not what people want to hear, but they need to hear it! The most expensive, self-inflated and pompous programme of initial teacher education I have ever seen is the one that is responsible for over half their students leaving teaching after five years! This is not a 40% gain for teaching. It is a massive waste of taxpayer’s money that could be spent on the further development and support of established, value-for money and high quality programmes such as those offered by universities and school partnerships. Please, someone, wake up and see Teach First for what it is: a massively expensive, ideologically-ridden, PR-driven programme that makes little long-term impact on the quality of our teaching workforce.

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