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Graduate scheme places 16,000 teachers in deprived areas

A recruitment programme called Teach First has been used to tackle a shortage of teachers in Britain.

The scheme brings in graduates on nearly full pay from day one and they are trained on the job.

It has been used to place more than 16,000 teachers in low-income communities since it started in 2003.

At the North London AIM Academy secondary school in Enfield, north London, nearly 60% of the teachers came through Teach First.

And 75% of those in leadership roles are also from the programme.

The Teach First teachers include Frida Arthur who said that at university most of her friends were going into the corporate world into companies like P Morgan and Accenture.

However she was attracted by the programme’s mission to close the equality gap in education.

North London AIM Academy secondary school in Enfield

The part of Enfield where the school is located has some of the worst deprived areas in London.

The borough has the highest concentration of Turkish people in the capital and some pupils do not have English as a first language.

Mariama Hashi said she is from North London herself and is aware that some groups and some parts of London will suffer because of the declining numbers of people going into teaching.

She teaches reading skills and many of the students have gaps in their education or do not have sufficient English.

Teacher Mariama Hashi from North London

Callum O’Grady who teaches History is also from Teach First and says his favourite part of the job is seeing the students’ progress and building relationships with them and their families.

He was a university graduate and says he would not have become a teacher if it had meant going to teacher training college and not earning a wage.

History teacher Callum O’Grady

‘Hungry and focussed’

Paddy McGrath, executive principal with AIM Academy secondary schools, said people brought in through Teach First tend to be “hungry” and “focussed” on progressing in their careers.

The secondary school in Enfield has been marked as ‘good’ by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) for the first time in its history since being taken over by the AIM Academy in 2019 – under a previous regime it had the lowest rating of ‘inadequate’.

Mr McGrath said their sister school in Edgeware had been one of the worst performing schools in England before being taken over by AIM Academy.

It is now in the top 55 schools in the country even though 45% of its pupils are entitled to free school meals, he says.

Paddy McGrath, executive principal with AIM Academy secondary schools

All of North London Academy pupils now go on to third level and for the first time a former pupil is studying at Oxford, according to Director of Academies Carly Mitchell.

Unlike most schools in Britain, academies are run independently of local authorities.

Academies typically have private sector involvement either through management or sponsorship.

The AIM Academy Trust is a registered charity and involves three schools – North London Academy, London Academy and Deansbrook Junior School.

Elenaz, left, and Seyi, pupils at North London AIM Academy

The Teach First programme is part of a global network of 62 organisations collectively know as Teach for All.

Two pupils at Enfield, Elenaz and Seyi, say the school has improved a lot since it was taken over by AIM.

Beforehand “it was very disorganised”, said Elenaz, adding “no one took it seriously”.

Elenaz says she hopes to work in fashion while Seyi wants to have his own business as a real estate agent.

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