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Making the numbers add up

The Teach First programme, which is supported by HSBC, provides top-performing maths teachers to UK schools and aims to improve numeracy in deprived areas.

Since the programme began in 2003 HSBC has helped fund the recruitment, training and placement of nearly 1,500 maths teachers across the world with 646 maths teacher placements in the UK alone. The maths teachers we have supported represent 20 per cent of all Teach First graduates in the UK.

We will continue to back the project through 2013 and 2014 – increasing the number of teachers we support every year.

The Teach First charity offers some of the UK’s brightest graduates two-year teaching placements at challenging primary and secondary schools in London and other major cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Cardiff.

Schools in poorer areas qualify for funding based on number of free school meals provided. Recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers in deprived areas has long been a problem and a national shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths teachers means posts in these subjects have been difficult to fill.

Teach First takes care of the recruitment (meaning schools do not need to advertise for a post) and funds all training. The schools are responsible for paying the teachers’ salaries, which are at the lower end of the pay scale because the teachers are newly qualified. The incentive for young teachers is the challenge of the job and the excellent opportunities for promotion. According to the charity, 69 per cent of Teach First teachers stay in education after the two-year programme. Many stay with their placement school, with one becoming head teacher at the age of 30.

The programme has helped to change the perception of teaching in challenging schools, emphasising how providing education in low-income communities can be one of the most rewarding graduate jobs. The Teach First initiative was ranked third in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers in 2013. Teach First plans to extend its programme to struggling schools in UK towns rather than just cities.

“We saw that Teach First could be a very effective way of addressing the problem of the lack of skilled maths teachers and could play a significant role in improving the opportunities to young people,” Simon Martin, Head of Group Corporate Sustainability at HSBC.

Schools which recruit Teach First teachers have seen their final exam results (GCSEs) improve at twice the rate of schools nationally, between 2010 and 2011, according to government data. Teach First schools showed an 11.3 per cent increase (from 43.5 per cent to 48.4 per cent) in the number of pupils achieving five A-C grades including English and maths. This figure compares with a national average increase of 5.5 per cent.

HSBC became a founding member of Teach First in the UK in 2003, but the principles of Teach First extend beyond the UK and are now incorporated in the Teach For All programme across the world.

HSBC donated GBP1.8 million in 2007 to help set up Teach For All in countries such as Australia, Chile, Eastern Europe, India, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico and Pakistan to reduce educational disadvantage. In addition to set-up costs, HSBC provided seed funding for the countries and funding for the maths teachers.

Along with other donors, HSBC has enabled Teach For All to recruit and train 27,000 teachers for high-need classrooms across the world, improving the lives of 3 million school children.