Teach First Cymru: Bringing great people into our schools

One of the joys of working with new teachers is spending the October half term looking back over their first weeks in the classroom with them. Adapting to days standing in front of expectant and vastly different classes is no easy feat - but all new starters will have particular moments or memories that stay with them down their careers.

For Huw it was realising that he was using the same phrases that he’d heard his teachers saying when he was at school years before. For Janice it was the slow culmination of seeing one class opening up and developing their confidence before her very eyes, even if her first term made her feel like a swan – showing a calm exterior whilst furiously paddling underneath.

Huw and Janice are just two of our latest cohort of Teach First Cymru teachers, working in schools across the region with the support of the Central South Consortium (CSC).

Teach First Cymru is a unique and innovative route into Welsh classrooms. We recruit and train teachers specifically for schools serving disadvantaged communities. Young people from economically poorer backgrounds in Wales are less likely to achieve five good GCSEs, and are much less likely to make it to university. Our mission is to work with partners to ensure that no child’s educational success and lifelong aspirations are limited by their background.

Over the last four years, over 150 recent graduates and career changers will have started their journey with us – sharing our goal of every child having an excellent education. This year they are embarking on a new programme – delivered in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University and two Base Schools, Hawthorn High School and Fitzalan High School – based around an innovative new qualification: a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education. This two-year qualification carries 120 Masters-level credits, blending theory with practice through our carefully constructed new delivery model.

In launching this new model with the support of CSC, we have built a programme which is thoroughly made-in-Wales, but globally informed – drawing upon the latest research on initial teacher education from around the world, as well as our own evaluation of our work in Wales since 2013.

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting one of our partnership’s Base Schools – Hawthorn High School – with the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams along with colleagues from the consortium. It was excellent to share an insight into how our new model supports the development of our teachers by drawing upon the expertise of the schools, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Teach First Cymru through the delivery of the PGDE.

By the end of the two-year PGDE programme, we hope to have developed a strong cohort of teachers who are committed to making a career-long contribution to delivering an excellent education to our pupils.

To find out more and apply to Teach First Cymru’s 2018 cohort visit www.teachfirst.org.uk

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