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Northumbria University receives ‘outstanding’ rating for its Teach First programme

20th January 2016

An Ofsted inspection of teacher training provided by Northumbria University has been rated as ‘outstanding’ – meaning the University has now held this rating for 14 years.

Ofsted inspectors assessed Teach First’s provision in nine regions across the country last year. Teach First in the North East region is run by a partnership with Northumbria University and schools across 12 local authorities in the region, covering schools from Amble to Darlington.

Their report, which is published this week, praises the Teach First North East initial teacher education partnership, stating that its “overall effectiveness… in securing consistently high-quality outcomes for participants is outstanding.”

Inspectors praised the high calibre of students and the close monitoring of their development through their teacher training. It noted the impressive standards displayed by trainee teachers and their use of “an excellent range of strategies and imaginative ideas to engage and motivate pupils.”

They also highlighted the excellent quality of training provided, recognising its focus on promoting high-levels of subject and curriculum knowledge, with particular praise given to training teachers in primary mathematics.

Their report stated: “The enthusiasm and high levels of collaboration and cooperation in this close-knit partnership are deeply rooted in positive relationships, mutual respect, high expectations and a shared vision and commitment to improving life chances for children and young people in the North East region. This approach is mirrored by the partnership’s highly motivated participants, who demonstrate a strong commitment to raising educational achievement, addressing educational disadvantage and becoming highly effective teachers and leaders.”

Teach First is an independent charity helping to break the shocking link between family income and educational attainment, by recruiting inspirational graduates and career changers with leadership potential to teach in low income communities. The charity supports each trainee with the skills and support they need to raise the achievement and aspirations of children, whilst developing a growing network of leaders committed to ending educational inequality.

One activity which supports this work is Teach First’s initial teacher training programme which is delivered in ten English regions with nine university partners. Teach First participants commit to working in a school where half of its pupils are in the bottom third of the social and economic disadvantage index, for a minimum of two years.

Joanne Clifford Swan, Northumbria University’s Director of Partnerships for Initial Teacher Education, said: “We continue to be at the forefront of innovative schools-led teacher training. This recognition of our work with Teach First, schools and local authorities reflects our very strong commitment to support and drive high-quality teacher training in the region.

“It is especially pleasing that this rating recognises the contribution the partnership has made to raising attainment and aspiration in socially disadvantaged children in the region.”

Twenty-three year-old Rachel Wilson is a newly-qualified maths teacher based at The Blyth Academy. She took part in the Teach First North East partnership and praised the course. “I always wanted to teach and Teach First seemed the perfect route for me,” she said.

“I liked their vision of learning while doing the job and it seemed like an exciting way to get involved with teaching. I’ve loved it. It was difficult at first but I’ve learned so much. I definitely want to stay in teaching.”

Paul Green, Regional Director at Teach First, said: “The inspectors highlighted the significant impact Teach First, our university partners and teachers are making in transforming schools. This outstanding rating is testament to the dedication and hard work of the thousands of teachers working each day in schools serving low income communities across the country.

“The passion and dedication of all those involved with the Teach First partnership, from participants on our training programme, to our university partners, schools and businesses, and many more has enabled us to support over a million pupils across the country. We will continue to work with our partners to improve our work and strive to ensure that no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background.”

Northumbria’s education courses are the only courses in the UK to be ranked ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for a total of 14 years. They are rated 12th in the Sunday Times University Guide 2016 and score highly for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey.

The Teach First North East initial teacher education partnership was established in 2011. It is just one of the routes provided by Northumbria University to support people into teaching careers. A number of other courses are available at undergraduate and master’s levels.

For more information on Northumbria’s courses in education and lifelong learning, visit

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