After graduating, Sam joined Teach First's two-year Leadership Development Programme (LDP) to help fight inequality in education. Discover the best - and most challenging - parts of his job
Why did you choose Teach First?
I chose Teach First as I fully support their vision - determining a child's future success by their socioeconomic background is simply wrong.
I'd been drawn to the idea of teaching throughout university, but the prospect of working with a charity fighting education inequality sealed the deal.
What does Teach First involve?
The LDP is the one of the most effective, research-informed teacher training programmes in the world. You're required to teach your own timetable from day one, in a school battling deprivation problems. Combining teacher training with leadership development, you're supported by your Teach First mentor, your subject mentor in your placement school and your university tutor, who awards you Qualified Teacher Status after your first year and a PGDE after your second.
You have a class from the first day of term. Planning, teaching and marking are the tasks of any teacher, and the LDP is no different - you're seen as a full-time teacher to your pupils. However, you're never alone - the support of your colleagues and Teach First enables you to develop your teaching ability rapidly.
How did you apply?
The day after registering for an account, a member of the recruitment team called me to explain the application process and clarify any questions I had.
The online application form asked a short series of questions based around Teach First's competencies. The website provides suggestions for how best to structure your answer, to make it as clear as possible to the recruitment team.
After a successful application I was invited to an assessment centre. I attended a short one-to-one interview, a group discussion task and an extremely short lesson simulation, which I evaluated afterwards. You aren't expected to give a perfect lesson, but this is a chance to show how you interact with people and reflect on your efforts. I was provided with plenty of support for this beforehand.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
The kids. As a secondary school teacher I can teach 150 pupils in a day, and the variety of interactions makes the job incredibly interesting and fun - kids are extraordinarily funny.
Are there any challenges?
Teachers' workloads are large so hours, particularly during pinch points, can be long. However, plenty of other grad roles have demanding hours, but these won't give you the moral purpose or satisfaction that Teach First does.
When my day has been easy, I say that I have the best job in the world. When my day has been challenging, I say that I have the most important job in the world. The importance of my job keeps me going.
What are your career ambitions?
I joined Teach First to help close the attainment gap between the rich and poor. I have long-term ambitions to become a headteacher, as I see this role providing me with the opportunity to make the largest impact. It won't happen overnight, but Teach First has already helped me develop the leadership skills I'll need to progress.
Do you have any advice for those considering Teach First?
My main piece of advice for anyone interested would be to reach out to Teach First to find out more. Their Insight Programme allows you to observe, plan and even teach a lesson in a school with the support of those currently on the programme.
Your current university may have a brand ambassador to reach out to, or seek out current participants - we can tell you what teacher life is like.
Find out more
- Learn more about applying for teacher training.
- See what else is involved in becoming a secondary school teacher.
- Develop your teaching skills by volunteering with children.