Lily Stagg-Neal | Teach First

Our people

Lily Stagg-Neal

  • Studied: History, University of Edinburgh

I heard about the Taster Programme from a Teach First booth at my university’s library. Given that I’m still a couple of years away from graduating, I thought doing Taster would be a good opportunity to find out more about the organisation. The head teacher at my brother’s sixth form is from Teach First, and my mother has done some coaching work with them in the past – they have nothing but good things to say about Teach First’s graduate programme and the leadership development opportunities they offer.

The first Taster Programme activity was a debate and develop session. Our challenge was to work out which qualities were most important for a good leader to have. In reality, all the characteristics were important for leadership, so it was a bit of a struggle to decide which ranked lowest. I was given the task of ensuring that the whole team had the opportunity to participate in the discussion – although with such talkative people, there was not much work to be done!

Despite a few disagreements over the order of the list, the group got on incredibly well. I found the experience very engaging. It was a great opportunity for feedback, from both Teach First leaders, and my peers. It was a challenge - under timed conditions and in a large group - which meant that we had to remain on task and focused the whole time.

I think the key skill I developed on the day was awareness. In a teaching environment, it’s vital to be aware of your audience and their needs, particularly when trying to relay information. Taking the time to check in with your team or pupils, whether in the classroom or in another professional environment, is really important and helps to manage expectations and shape the path forward.

Educational inequality has always been something that I have felt strongly about – partly because my mother has always been on the governing boards of my schools, in an effort to make sure that improvements are made and standards are upheld. What really changed for me at Taster was being able to see an avenue through which I can make a huge difference to rectifying the problem myself. Teach First is going to the heart of the problem, providing great teachers for classrooms that need them the most.

I would like to keep in contact with Teach First, and continue to spread their message so I’ve applied to be a Teach First Brand Manager at my university. Educational inequality is so obviously wrong, yet so prevalent. The more people that get involved, the better.