Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Elite Independents to Offer Their Own 'Teach First'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Elite Independents to Offer Their Own 'Teach First'

Article excerpt

New training scheme will place graduates in top private schools

For more than a decade, the Teach First programme has attracted the brightest young graduates to take roles in the country's most disadvantaged schools with just a few weeks' preparation. Now, an elite group of private schools is to offer its own version, providing training in the historic classrooms of the most privileged institutions in the land.

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) group - which includes Eton College and Harrow School - will hand-pick graduates from Oxbridge and Russell Group universities to take places on the training scheme.

Participants will have the £8,000 training costs paid by individual schools, as well as receiving a wage while they work towards a postgraduate certificate in education and qualified teacher status.

The headteachers behind the project said it was being established because of fears that the flow of quality teachers through traditional university training routes could be under threat after funding cuts and departmental closures. They were also keen not to miss out on graduates and career-changers attracted by the growing number of on-the-job training routes, including Teach First and School Direct.

But they denied that the scheme was attempting to "poach" top graduates who might otherwise have entered the state sector, claiming it would benefit the education system as a whole.

Richard Harman, headmaster of Uppingham School in the East Midlands and chairman of the HMC, said: "We are aiming to achieve a programme that will have people coming out of the other end qualified to teach either in the independent or the maintained sector and able to move between the two, having got the experience of an excellent school."

Mr Harman said the scheme was aimed at both graduates and those changing careers who were focused on the idea of teaching, passionate about their subjects and seeking experience in "high-functioning" departments. It was uncertain how many teachers would cross over into the state sector at the end of their training, he acknowledged.

Many private schools already offer in-house training to teachers on a school-by-school basis, but this is the first time that HMC schools have joined forces to offer a formal scheme.

Private schools' freedom to recruit staff without teaching qualifications has been championed by the Conservatives, who have extended the powers to academies and free schools. …

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