Teach First experience for Lancaster alumna

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Teach First Week 2010 saw high profile personalities from the worlds of politics, education, business and sport entering into Teach First schools and swapping their day jobs for teaching between 1 and 5 February. Some of the UK’s most influential people are persuaded out of their normal daily lives and into the classroom to experience life as teachers in challenging urban schools.

Teach First was set up in 2002 as a graduate recruiter and a charity to launch exceptional graduates into challenging schools to help raise the aspirations of the pupils. In using graduates who have worked hard not only academically but socially and in the community during their life, Teach First aims to give the pupils role models to aspire to further and even higher education.

Included in those who lent their talents was Satnam Rana, an alumna of Lancaster University and now the Midlands Today presenter. Like the rest of her cohort of Teach First Week 2010, she found the experience challenging yet fulfilling. Gillian Joseph, Sky News presenter, who taught a history lesson on the Wall Street Crash, had this to say to the press: “To take responsibility for a child’s learning is an extraordinary thing to do.”

Brett Wigdortz, CEO of Teach First, told the press on the first day that “by putting the spotlight on teaching through the week, we want to demonstrate that it is one of the most demanding yet rewarding and important professions.”

As recently as 2008, the Department of Education and Skills has found that one in five 11 year-olds did not meet the expected targets in their English tests. Coupled with this shortage in attainment is the way that wealth still determines too much of the social mobility of a child. Indeed, statistics show that between children eligible for Free School Meals (a key indicator of poverty in education) and those who are not, the children eligible are likely to have half the chance of getting 5 A*-C GCSEs. Research shows that teacher quality is integral to raising the achievement of the poorest pupils.

Guests who took up the challenge in 2010 included Dame Vivienne Westwood, Patrick Flaherty, Managing Director of the Investment Banking Division at Credit Suisse, Schools Secretary Ed Balls, Today Programme presenter Justin Webb, the BBC newscaster Huw Edwards, The Apprentice’s Tim Campbell and Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Samira Ahmed.

Teach First is still recruiting for the 2010 recruitment year for shortage subjects in mathematics, science, ICT and engineering. For the 2011 recruitment year, all positions remain open. For more information please visit www.teachfirst.org.uk. In 2009, Teach First gained 8th place on the coveted league of Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.

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