To support its story on the growth of Teach First, the Observer has profiles of a number of graduates from their programme…
TOIB OLOMOWEWE, 24
An economics and history graduate teaching at Bethnal Green Academy, he left behind the large salary of a City career to go into teaching.
“After graduation I was working for City firms. I was really enamoured by the bright lights. But I loved the idea that Teach First allowed me to jump straight in. It’s nice to have your skill set recognised as something that will transfer to the classroom.
“I have a lot of friends I was at school with who hadn’t gone on to do much at all, so I was interested in why I’d done well in education and some of my peers hadn’t.
“I had a couple of teachers who really took an interest in me and encouraged me and that’s stuff you never forget. I never held teachers in very high regard, but I do now. When you realise the impact on people’s lives that you can have on a day-to-day basis, its a nice part of the job. I’m also black and a Muslim, a double minority, and growing up I didn’t see many role models, so maybe I can be that role model for someone.
“The salary clearly isn’t a City salary, but it pays better than I expected and nobody goes into teaching to make megabucks. Some people make money in a job that they hate. I have laughed every single day I have come to work here and that’s quite a privilege.”
LAURA POLLOCK, 35
An English graduate teaching English at St Edmund Arrowsmith, in Whiston, near Liverpool.
“Prior to going to university, I worked in the investment industry in London and I enjoyed the job, but I didn’t feel I was adding any moral value to myself and I wanted to do something new. I liked the idea of learning on the job, I had plenty of leadership and presentation skills. Of course you’re not paid as well but as long as I’m comfortable and my son is comfortable, then the extra value is added by just how rewarding it is to work with and help these young people. It’s a challenge, the workload is heavy, but you come away from your job thinking you’ve made an impact.”
CERI MYERS, 23
A law graduate from the University of Birmingham now teaching science at Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda, Porth; pictured, far right, with one of his lecturers before a reception for Teach First at 10 Downing Street.
“I finished university without having a clue what to do, except that I didn’t want to go into law, which was a bit of a shock as I’d grown up wanting to be a lawyer. I had never thought of teaching as a profession, but Teach First is one of those organisations that the more you know about it, the more you want to get involved. It doesn’t just try to tackle what’s going on in the classroom; it really activates you to get involved in the community
“My school hasn’t got big problems, but it does have challenges. This area suffers from social and economic disadvantages and it’s an area of the country not served well for jobs and opportunities. But I was always someone who chased a challenge! The staff have been really open and welcoming to me. There will be people who’ll be sceptical about this scheme, but proving people wrong is pretty satisfying.
“When you say you’re teaching, people think of a good grammar school where all the pupils get As. But sometimes the real satisfaction is working with someone who didn’t think they’d get anything and they get a C.”
What’s your experience of @TeachFirst? Are they bringing good young people into teaching who might never have done so? Do you have any concerns? Please share in the comments or on twitter…