May 23, 2016

Teach First and MCMA - in response to The Northern Powerhouse Report

The Manchester Creative and Media Academy have worked with Teach First for many years now and have recently been awarded their ‘Drive for Five’ award which recognises those schools who have worked in partnership with them for five years or more. Over the last two years alone, the academy has had seven Teach First participants working within it, all at different stages within their careers.

 It was fitting that the ‘Drive for Five’ award was presented to the Academy during a recent training event which was held at Angel Square, to coincide with the academy joining The Cooperative Academies Trust. The values of the academy mirror those of The Cooperative Academies Trust, with the vision of the academy which realised new leadership in 2015, being that it has the highest aspirations and expectations for all, so that everyone can achieve excellence. Working with organisations such as Teach First whose ambition is that all children have access to a world-class education, can only support the academy in its drive for excellence for all.

 The Academy’s commitment to Teach First is also evident through the Principal being a member of the Headteacher’s group. The Academy’s Principal was recently invited to the Teach First 10th Anniversary Dinner where the IPPP ‘Northern Schools: Putting Education at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse’ was shared in advance of the release of the report. A key theme of the evening focused upon the recruitment and retention of staff, one area that MCMA has, like many other schools in the North, struggled with. Having a successful relationship with Teach First however, has enabled the academy to place committed individuals into the academy in order to support our pupils to succeed.

 One point raised within the report is that policymakers should pay particular attention to addressing attainment in schools with large numbers of deprived pupils. The report only offers suggestions as to why schools with large numbers of deprived pupils struggle to enable them to succeed compared to those with smaller numbers of deprived pupils, however, suggestions around different interventions being required, are made within the report. Teach First participants within the academy have been able to recognise that interventions need to not only target pupils’ educational needs, but also other needs that they may present with. A current Teach First participant within the academy has set up a group which focuses on raising self esteem of pupils, and the impact of the work that she has been doing within this group, can already be seen through a gaining in confidence within the classroom. Other participants also show a commitment to developing pupils’ aspirations, expectations and confidence through inspirational residential visits to Universities such as Oxford and Manchester, and through extra-curricular clubs such as ‘Mindsports’ and ‘Philosophy club’. Teach First participants have demonstrated their understanding that relationships are key to success and a key outcome from participation in these activities has been increased engagement in the classroom which as we know, can have a direct impact on engagement.


 A key attribute of the Teach First participants that we have at MCMA is their commitment to continuing professional development. We were very pleased to see that the academy’s commitment to high quality professional development was recognised in a recent inspection report. Ensuring that teachers have access to development opportunities is also highlighted within the Northern Powerhouse report. Our Teach First participants have demonstrated a real commitment to additional professional development opportunities that the academy has provided, both internally and externally. Each of the participants that are currently in the academy have committed to completing their Masters as part of their training and we were delighted that two Teach First Alumni received their Masters with Distinction this academic year. The report highlights the importance of high quality professional development and we believe that Teach First participants understand this. Two of our Teach First Alumni have now graduated onto Teaching Leaders Fellows Programmes and are continuing to use additional leadership training to impact on the lives of pupils within their departments.

 One of our Teach First Alumni, says:

‘Teach First as an organisation has provided me with insightful and relevant pedagogy and tailored training that has challenged me throughout my teaching career so far. This alongside the additional support and CPD that MCMA has offered me has allowed me to use my knowledge and experience to both continue my own learning beyond the classroom and to make sure that my students’ learning opportunities can be the best.’

 Another writes:

‘I have been welcomed into the MCMA community and been provided with supportive and constructive challenge from both the Academy and Teach First. I have been extremely well supported through both internal and external CPD opportunities, including those to further extend my subject knowledge such as that provided by the Princes Trust Subject Days. This CPD has been complemented by that which I have received through Teach First and the relationships that I have made as a result of being a part of this organisation.’

 As we move towards next academic year, one of our first Teach First Alumni will graduate from being a subject mentor to a professional mentor. We believe that this demonstrates our strong relationship with Teach First and the Alumni’s commitment to the organisation and its values too. This staff member says:

‘Teach First has allowed me to explore my own skills and personal qualities and has opened the path to my career as both a teacher and a leader. I am really grateful to both the organisation and MCMA for the opportunities that have been afforded to me to make a difference to the life chances of the children of Manchester.’