THE link between low family income and poor achievement in the classroom is no longer acceptable to teachers in Bolton.
First class motivated and enthusiastic teacher training graduates are being drafted into schools across the borough to work alongside existing staff to break the link and improve rising standards.
This link is said to be more pronounced in the UK than in almost any other developed country.
Charity Teach First recruits the best graduates and trains them to become inspirational teachers in schools in areas of deprivation.
A number of those are working in Bolton schools.
Latest figures in Bolton show only 35.2 per cent children on free school meals achieve five or more good graded GCSEs including English and maths compared to 64.7 per cent.
Nationally the figure is 34.6 per cent and 62 respectively.
More than 2,050 Teach First teachers are working in schools alongside permanent staff members to further raise attainment and aspiration, including 52 schools in the North West.
One of those schools is Bolton St Catherine’s Academy in Breightmet.
Teach First teachers are working in the secondary and primary sector of the academy.
To mark the 10th anniversary of Teach First, the school welcomed in CBBC presenter Michelle Ackerley to lead an art class. Bolton St Catherine’s Academy assistant headteacher Lee Schofield said:
“These graduates really are the best of the best, many are Oxbridge graduates. Even if they get a First Class degree they still have to go through a strict selection criteria and start working as
soon as they leave university.
“These teachers are exceptionally motivated, passionate and enthusiastic and those who are coming to the end of their two years could stay on as permanent staff.”
Teach First teachers gain their post graduate certificate of education and also complete a Masters in education and leadership.
The charity aims to break the link between poverty and low attainment by supporting teachers, helping to develop leaders but also by creating a powerful movement for social change through its
Many of its graduates go on to a career in teaching and those who do not, say the charity “remain committed to addressing educational disadvantage in careers outside of the classroom”.
Colin Ferguson, Teach First’s regional director in the North West, said: “We will no longer accept the excuse that low achievement is a result of low family income.
“Family income should not limit the educational opportunities of pupils. The link between the two is stronger in the UK than other developing countries.”
Stefanie Janikiewicz, applied to become a Teach First teacher after graduating.
She is one of just 84 primary school teachers to be placed following a successful pilot programme in London.
The 24-year-old said: “I wanted a job which involved helping children, straight away, and Teach First appealed to me. I like the organisation, its high expectations.
“I feel if you can start helping children at a younger age you can make more of a difference — building their self esteem and letting them know you have high expectations for them.”