Ten years ago this week, Teach First was officially launched in Canary Wharf.
In 2002, far too few children from low socio-economic backgrounds were getting the education they all deserved. We believe – as we did then – that there is an urgent moral, social and economic imperative to address educational disadvantage, one of the UK's most destructive and pervasive societal problems. Over the past decade, we have been part of a change which has seen improvements in some schools and for a great many pupils, but there is still so much more to be done. Across England, a third of pupils still leave primary school without a full grasp of reading, writing and maths (Department for Education, 2011). This cannot be allowed to continue.
On 15 July – ten years to the date Teach First was launched - almost 1000 new Teach First participants gathered at the University of Warwick for the start of our tenth national Summer Institute. These new teachers are embarking on a journey that will see them change the lives of hundreds of pupils and they are joining a community of over 3000 other participants and ambassadors who have already taken up this challenge. In 2002, few of the UK's top graduates considered teaching in a school in challenging circumstances as a viable career choice. It is testament to a shift in the perception of teaching that so many recent graduates – along with nearly 250 career changers - have this year chosen to begin work in schools in challenging circumstances across England.
Our tenth anniversary has given us the opportunity to reflect on successes to date and to look at how we can have an even greater impact over the next decade. At Teach First we are working in partnership with others to ensure that no child's educational success is limited by their socio-economic background. To see this vision realised, we have created a set of statements of intended impact which focus on narrowing the gaps in attainment between children from low-income backgrounds and their wealthier peers, supporting those children to reach their aspirations and enabling them to access further and higher education.
It has been a busy and exciting birthday week. You may have seen an eight-page supplement in The Timesexploring the work our community is doing to address educational disadvantage. We also held a high profile debate with the RSA on social mobility, part of the Education Matters debate series launched this year. On Monday 9 July, we hosted a reception at the Speaker's House in the Palace of Westminster to thank our political supporters. Both the Education Secretary, Michael Gove MP, and the Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg MP, addressed the room, but the biggest round of applause was reserved for Haenguen Chi, head girl at Burlington Danes Academy. Haenguen spoke of the impact that great teachers can have, providing hope, inspiration, support and guidance where they are most needed.
We kick off the next ten years at Teach First on 22 September, when over 3,000 people will come together at London's Southbank Centre for Challenge 2012, a day of discussion, debate and decision-making. We hope that you will join us there alongside pupils, schools, parents, communities, policy makers, businesses and non-profit organisations, as, collectively, we work towards a future where every child enjoys the education they deserve.