I joined Teach First because I saw a challenge that I couldn’t see in any other graduate scheme. I deferred my entry to Accenture for two years. I thought I wanted to go into teaching but didn’t want to put all my eggs into one basket so Teach First was a way for me to have a route into teaching with the option, if I realised teaching wasn’t for me, that I could move on after two years.
I went to a Teach First eligible school in Wales. I had a very good experience there and loved my time but the people around me did not have such a positive experience. Out of 150 people in my year only three or four went onto university. Although this wasn’t the expectation set by the teachers it was almost accepted and there was no push to increase that number. Teach First were and are, as a movement, addressing the situation that I had grown up with, and I thought if I’m part of that movement I can start addressing the issues that I saw from first-hand experience.
At the end of the Summer Institute I was raring to go. My school experiences during that time had gone well and even just after seven hours in the classroom I thought I’m ready for this. But nothing prepares you for the nature of the kids; the context in which you are teaching in, you can’t simulate that in training. So the first day was a massive shock. I could hear my class lining up outside the door and suddenly I wasn’t prepared at all. Suddenly there was no boundary between them and me.
I went into my school with the hope of raising at least one child’s aspirations of going to university, because that was a real problem at my school, low aspirations. I had a triple science top set class and in one of my first few lessons with them I asked what their thoughts were on uni and if they would consider it. A couple of kids said ‘yeah I’ve looked into it but I don’t know what it’s all about’. So after a couple of months I asked a similar question and asked if any of them would consider doing physics at uni. The response was, ‘nah, physics is really hard, I’d never get in to do it anyway…’ When we got to the other side of Christmas and the lessons were going really well and they were really enjoying it I asked the same question and half the class said they wanted to go to university and were doing their own research. Kids were even coming in at lunchtime asking me to help with their application.
There is a Teach First community within Accenture which I’m part of and I’m looking at getting involved in the community links between Accenture and local schools. Taking pupils out of inner-city schools and placing them in offices, like Accenture, gives them experience of being in the corporate world. I might also run CV writing skills and UCAS applications workshops.