Private schools to take on Teach First for best graduates

The Times, 27/09/14, Greg Hurst reports on the launch of HMC's Teacher Training scheme. Chris King, HMC Chairman Elect and Headmaster of Leicester Grammar School is quoted.

Private schools are to launch a direct recruitment programme for teachers, seeking to rival Teach First in attracting top graduates into the profession.

The independents will prepare high-flying graduates for headships and train them in the classroom rather than in universities.

The Headmasters and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents 260 leading private schools, will initially recruit 100 graduates, each spending two years learning on the job.

It had to drop the title Teach Direct because Teach First had patented a raft of names and instead will call the programme HMC Teacher Training.

Teach First — which is backed by top City firms and has the Prince of Wales as its patron — has enjoyed phenomenal success in recruiting highly qualified graduates to teach in tough schools.

It came second in the The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers and has grown from an initial intake of 100 to hiring 2,060 graduates a year.

Many independents have traditionally employed graduates directly from universities, training them as teachers alongside experienced colleagues, as their staff have not been required to have formal qualifications. They also recruited from university training courses and part of their reason for acting now is alarm at cutbacks in these, in response to the growth of Schools Direct and Teach First.

It is the first joint training programme by HMC schools and has been developed by Chris King, headmaster of Leicester Grammar School. He said: “Shrinking numbers of PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) places in universities means a risk of reduction in high-quality teacher trainees entering the profession.”

Recruits will have costs paid for by the school and work in a specialist subject at a secondary school. They will be offered a two-year contract, gaining qualified teacher status after a year.

James Westhead, executive director at Teach First, said: “We believe that teachers can have the greatest impact, and in turn benefit from the most rewarding careers, by teaching in schools in low income communities.”

A recruitment expert yesterday predicted a risk of shortages of teachers in some subjects as head teachers were more selective when hiring candidates via Schools Direct. Professor John Howson, honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford, said that he was concerned about shortages in sciences, English, maths and other areas.

Read the full article © The Times (subscription may be required).

  • Callum Leslie-Draper

    Explain why Teach First needs “competition”?

    I think you’re missing the point of it’s existence.

  • HMC_Org

    You might like to ask The Times. HMC does not see HMC Teacher Training as competition for Teach First nor do we think it needs competition. Shrinking numbers of PGCE places in universities means a risk of reduction in high-quality teacher trainees entering the profession and our schools. We are responding to this problem with HMC Teacher Training and by introducing this scheme, HMC gives would-be teachers a flexible route into initial training and a strong foundation for a career in teaching, and possibly school leadership.

    • Callum Leslie-Draper

      You’ll be seen as competition if you’re pulling top graduates away from Teach First and I think that’ll hold true.

      What do you value as an educating institution? I fully appreciate the will in this scheme to improve standards of teaching and offering a perhaps more fruitful start for the aspiring teacher – but educational inequality still exists UK-wide.

      Teach First are going someway to address that, and you will be diverting it’s top talent?

      • HMC_Org

        We are aiming to achieve a programme that will have people coming out of the other end qualified to teach either in the independent or the maintained sector and able to move between the two, having got the experience of an excellent school. We are not trying to pull graduates away from Teach First. It will benefit the education system as a whole.

        • Neil Gilbride

          I think it is fair to say that these programs will attract totally different people.

          Teach First teachers are passionate and driven by the moral purpose to close the gap between rich and poor, which is both an assessment point in the recruitment process and essential if you are going to working in a challenging school.

          There is no TF teacher I know who would be interested in any program that would mean proactively working to widen the gap further.

          If anyone currently finds themselves is in a conundrum as to which one to pick, then they are undeniably unsuitable for the Teach First program because they have missed the point of why Teach First exists. I encourage them to apply only to the HMC.