This academic year sees the start of a special working partnership between Teach First and Aspirations Academies Trust.

Building a fair education for all is a key aim of Teach First and working with Aspirations will allow for a greater number of schools to benefit and the opportunity to better understand the needs of teachers and students.

Aspirations is renowned for the high standard of CPD we provide our staff. Joining forces with Teach First provides us with greater access to trainees, academic mentors and CPD services that compliment those we already provide.

In short, this is a partnership that will be a force for good and help to make a positive impact on the education landscape.

Since the inception of Teach First in 2002, more than 10,000 teachers have been placed in low-income areas, supporting more than one million children. 

Teach First now works with schools in every region of England and in Wales, helping them make a difference where it’s needed most.

Here below, Michelle Cudlipp, a School Partnerships Manager for Teach First, provides a detailed explanation of this new partnership with Aspirations and what it will mean for education inequality. 


How will this working partnership between Aspirations and Teach First differ to the relationship already in place?

Teach First and Aspirations Academies Trust had some pre-existing and long-standing partnerships mainly on the South Coast of England and in West London. 

In West London, Teach First developed partnerships with Rivers Academy in Feltham, Park Academy West London in Hillingdon, as well as Oriel Primary School. The coastal presence was, and remains, particularly strong in Atlantic Academy, Portland. 

The Teach First partnership, however, was very much focussed on individual school relationships, with no intersectionality to speak of between schools in the Trust nor between London and the South East South Coast.  Therefore, whilst individual schools would have specific points of contact at Teach First, provision was very much aligned to eligibility and suitability for the Teach First Training Programme and driven by the availability of trainees that could commute to the individual schools. 

Each school was on a different stage of its journey and Teach First would work with each school depending on its position and challenges.

Michelle Cudlipp

How will this new partnership between Teach First and Aspirations benefit our schools and students?

The focus of the multi-academy trust model of partnership is to shift the relationship to support the needs of the whole trust.  Working with Steve and Paula Kenning, Teach First are offering the chance to broaden access to its full programmatic offer across the Trust. 

Whilst individual schools will still keep their local point of contact, the CEOs of the Trust will have a single point of contact and a mechanism for discussing the needs of the Trust as a whole, rather than on a school by school level only – the idea is that each individual schools’ relationship will remain at local level, the partnership can be accessed by more schools in the trust at the MAT Partnership level.  This will benefit Aspirations schools and students in several ways.

– Access to the Teach First Training Programme is not solely governed by the eligibility of an individual school.  This means there is potential for Teach First to work with schools in the Trust that don’t meet the criteria as a lone entity, but who can access this offer as part of the multi-academy trust offer. 

As a rule of thumb, as long as 75% of the trainees are placed in ‘eligible’ schools, then other schools in the trust can host the remaining 25%.  So, where we previously might not have been able to partner with an individual school, this is now a possibility. 

Of course, this means that students in a wider spectrum of schools have the opportunity to be taught by a Teach First trainee that has been through a rigorous selection process and ready to teach on day one, supported by the in-school mentor and Teach First Development Lead.

Assuming that Teach First are successful in our bid to deliver the Early Career Framework from September 2021, all NQTs in all schools in the Trust are eligible to access the Teach First delivery model, meaning this entitlement to high quality CPD is available to all – there is no pre-requisite that the early career teacher is currently undertaking the Teach First Training Programme.

We are a current NPQ provider and offer a range of accredited qualifications to support teachers who are progressing into leadership roles and the trust can access this provision as a key MAT partner. 

The National Professional Qualifications are in Middle Leadership, Senior Leadership and Headship.  This provides high quality, accredited professional development for developing leaders at all levels and the re-modelled middle leader programme will enhance opportunities to become accredited not just from a curriculum perspective, but as a mentor in initial teacher training and pastoral provision too.  For students, that means their teachers are better qualified and committed to leadership too.

We can offer access to a limited number of schools to our free Careers Leadership Programme, which develops a leader in creating a careers strategy across the school.  This will improve students’ access to high quality careers provision and in turn, potentially enhance aspirations.

As a school in the Trust, we can offer opportunities for individual Headteachers to recommend talented graduates who currently work in the school, to fast track onto the Teach First Training Programme.  This means that subject to meeting minimum requirements and having the right to work in the UK, Heads have the potential to home grow a brilliant science technician or a support assistant into a Teach First Trainee and Ambassador.  Of course, the CPD opportunity for the Teacher is clear, and students benefit from a nurtured professional who is likely to then stay at the school and in the profession.

As part of the Government’s response to Covid-19 recovery, schools can also apply to Teach First for an academic mentor to support catch up in a variety of subjects, including Literacy, Numeracy, English, Maths, Science, Humanities and MFL.  This invaluable support enables pupils who have fallen behind to access high quality support and provision to help bridge the gap.

Steve & Paula Kenning, CEOs of Aspirations Academies Trust

What is the aim of Teach First and the role it plays in supporting schools across the country? 

We aim to build a fair education for all.  Our challenge is to unlock the potential in all children, not just some.  With a fair education, everything’s possible. With great teachers, with brilliant leaders, with the right policy and connections, schools will thrive. And so will our children.
We’re on the side of the schools facing the biggest challenges. We support them to make three things happen:

Great Teachers – We help people develop into inspiring teachers. And we support them every step of the way as they discover their potential.

Brilliant Leaders – Behind every great school is a great leadership team. We support talented teachers to become inspiring and effective leaders at every level.

Thriving Schools – We connect schools to networks of support. And we work hard to create a positive policy environment. All so schools can make an even bigger difference.

How has Teach First evolved since its inception and what does it now provide NQTs that it did not do previously?

Teach First  has tested and implemented several changes to its programmatic offer, all with the needs of our schools and multi-academy trusts at the heart.

Since our inception we’ve placed more than 10,000 teachers in low-income areas, supporting more than one million children. When London’s schools transformed their results, we were credited as a leading factor. But we want to do more.
We now work with schools in every region of England and in Wales, helping them make a difference where it’s needed most.
63% of our former trainees who still teach work in schools in low-income areas.
56 are now headteachers, 402 are senior leaders, and 1,547 are middle leaders.

As well as the highly impactful Training Programme, with academic rigour as well as high quality teacher training, from September 2021, all NQTs will have access to the Early Career Framework which is a further two-year professional development entitlement.

What are the main issues Teach First aims to tackle through this partnership with Aspirations? 

In partnering with Aspirations Academies Trust, Teach First aims to broaden its mission of ending educational inequality and influence more schools that need us the most at Trust level. 

By identifying the Trust’s needs, we can seek to source trainees, academic mentors, to impact on your students and offer access to our CPD offer which supports teachers at every level of their career.

As well as enhancing access to our partnership offer, we can connect the Trust to networks and opportunities with business.

We are really looking forward to developing our relationship with the Trust in the years to come.