Studies have shown that teacher effectiveness is a critical driver of students’ educational success. Educational achievement in turn is one of the most effective ways to achieve social mobility, improving social and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders.
Teach First NZ's first cohort began work in schools in 2013 (as part of the initial pilot phase). In the years since, the programme has achieved the following outcomes.
1. Recruiting top talent for low-decile schools
2. Meeting high demand from schools for the programme
3. Retaining committed alumni in teaching and in addressing educational inequalities
4. Raising achievement and building 21st century learners
5. Improving the status of teaching
We are committed to ongoing evaluation of the programme, and support all efforts to rigorously measure the impact of Teach First NZ. The programme is currently the subject of an ongoing independent evaluation by NZCER, which has demonstrated that the Teach First NZ approach is making a positive difference and helping to address educational inequalities in New Zealand.
In addition, similar programmes overseas have proven the power of our collective approach and the way we work with partners. Teach First in the UK, for example, has been independently evaluated and shown to produce highly effective teachers who achieve significant gains in student achievement, and positively impact their students and communities over the long-term.
In April 2013 the Ministry of Education selected the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) to conduct a four-year independent evaluation (2013-2016) of the Teach First NZ programme. NZCER is New Zealand’s only national, independent educational research organisation.
The key evaluation questions posed by the Ministry are:
1. How well (effectively and efficiently) has the Teach First NZ programme been implemented?
2. To what extent has the Teach First NZ programme achieved its overall outcomes and objectives?
Teach First NZ believes that great teaching requires great leadership. We also believe that our alumni will be required to exhibit leadership skills as they continue to engage, beyond the initial two-year programme, in working to close the education gap in New Zealand. That’s why we place leadership development at the heart of our programme, and require all participants to undertake a leadership project in their second year of the programme. Click here to learn about the impact some of these projects, led by second-year teachers, have had in our partner schools.
Since its founding in 2002, Teach First in the UK has placed over 7,000 teachers in schools in challenging circumstances to work with students to raise their achievement, access to opportunity, and aspiration. To date the programme has been the subject of two full evaluations (2008 & 2011) by the UK education inspectorate Ofsted (similar to New Zealand’s Education Review Office), a review conducted by the University of Manchester (2010) and a research study conducted by the Institute of Education, University of London (2013).
Teach First’s 2008 Ofsted review found that the programme successfully recruits ‘highly motivated graduates with outstanding personal qualities and strong subject expertise’, with around half achieving Qualified Teacher Status to an outstanding level, a third to a good level and the others to a satisfactory level. The six-week summer institute was found to be a particularly successful and innovative feature of the training, and the central subject training was also of a high quality. The report noted that ‘very few trainees withdrew from the programme’ and that ‘the outstanding level of achievement of the best Teach First trainees seen was so uniformly high that they were judged by inspectors to be amongst the most exceptional trainees produced by any teacher training route.’ The report concludes that the ‘trainees were highly committed to Teach First’s aim of countering educational disadvantage and had a markedly beneficial impact on the schools involved’.
Teach First’s 2011 Ofsted review of the programme awarded the highest possible grade of ‘Outstanding’ in all 11 areas evaluated across 4 regions. The report stated that ‘Teach First is very successful in meeting its commitment to address educational disadvantage by placing high-quality graduates into schools in challenging circumstances, and, through this, to working closely with the schools to improve student aspirations, experiences and achievement’. Ofsted found that many participants are already having an impact in their schools, even in their first year, and many are ‘well on their way to becoming inspirational teachers and some already are’. The training participants receive was found to be of ‘consistently high quality’, and the report notes that Teach First’s retention is ‘exceptionally high’ and ‘significantly above the national average’.
The 2010 study by the University of Manchester used a content analysis of interviews with principals and middle managers, and identified the following as the most common descriptors of Year 2 Teach First participants: ‘listen and learn’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘creative’, ‘hardworking’, ‘resilient’, ‘energetic’ and ‘adaptive’. The report also found that Teach First participation by a school correlates positively with student achievement with a between-school variance in pupil performance at GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) of between 20% and 40%. In addition, the results indicated that the greater the number of Teach First teachers in the school, the better the school performed.
The most recent 2013 study by the Institute of Education: "Matched panel data estimates of the impact of Teach First on school and departmental performance", found that General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) students benefited from the presence of a Teach First teacher in their school. The research demonstrated that in years two and three after a Teach First teacher’s introduction into a school there were school-wide gains of approximately 5% of a standard deviation, or a boost of one grade in one of a pupil’s eight best subjects.
In May 2011 the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) commissioned Murdoch University in Perth (Australia) to conduct an extensive literature review of overseas programmes affiliated with Teach For All. Teach First NZ and The University of Auckland welcomed the completed research report, and we were pleased to be able to offer our response to what we believe is a generally well-balanced literature review, which concluded that the evidence about Teach For All teachers seems positive.
The full PPTA report can be downloaded here, as well as full comment from Teach First NZ and The University of Auckland.
The second independent evaluation report of the Teach First NZ programme has been published by NZCER, and the findings continue to be positive.
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What is Teach First NZ? Find out here.
What do the two years on the Teach First NZ leadership development programme look like? Find out here.
Learn about our alumni programme, designed to create a network of leaders commited to tackling educational inequality over the long term.
Teach First NZ is an independent charity. Click here to download our brochure and find out how you can support us to tackle educational inequality in New Zealand.