A PROJECT to place top-quality graduates in inner-city South Yorkshire schools is reaching the end of its first phase with a clear majority set to pursue careers in teaching.
Teach First aims to attract high-fliers to the profession. After being launched in London in 2002, it reached the Yorkshire region in 2009.
Recruits go through a tough selection process and are then given two-year placements in challenging schools, learning classroom skills on the job.
Of the first group of 38 graduates placed in the county’s schools, 25 are planning to continue teaching careers.
Five are to move to jobs promoting Teach First, while five more are going to work for companies which support the programme.
And 21 of the cohort want to stay working in the Yorkshire region, providing a boost to schools which can struggle to attract quality candidates.
Graduates are taken on to the scheme with the knowledge that if they decide not to become teachers for life, the leadership training they receive will make them attractive to employers in a range of alternative careers.
Lizzi Middleton, aged 24, was placed at Parkwood Academy at Shirebrook to teach English - and is planning to stay.
“It’s been fantastic - a really, really good two years,” she said. “The students have fantastic personalities, the more they get to know you, the better it is. I graduated in English language and literature from Sheffield University and the programme was pretty much as I expected.
“They do drop you in at the deep end, but that’s what you are prepared for. The good thing is that the kids at the beginning believe you’re a real teacher!
“My parents are both in the profession so teaching was always in my mind - but Teach First over the last two years has convinced me 100 per cent that this is the job for me.”
Laura Daykin, 25, a Durham University graduate originally from Norfolk, is coming to the end of her two years at Chaucer School in Parson Cross.
She’s moving to a job in Teach First’s Yorkshire regional development office in Leeds after term ends at the end of July.
“My job will be to support our new recruits who are placed in schools like I was, and I’m very happy to stay in Yorkshire,” she said.
“But I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching, Chaucer has been an interesting place to be as it has been a time of changes.
“I’ve steered my set of Year 11s through the two years and they are taking their science exams soon so I’m quite nervous too!
“The support I received from the school was fantastic, they really helped me settle in - I certainly don’t regret my time in teaching.”