Now Teach charity gets £350,000 DfE funding to expand into Hastings

Now Teach, the organisation founded by former Financial Times journalist Lucy Kellaway to encourage professionals to become teachers later in life, is to receive £350,000 in government funding.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has today announced that the money will allow the charity to expand out of London and start work in Hastings, one of the government’s social mobility opportunity areas.

Launched by Kellaway and Katie Waldegrave in 2016 with the support of the Ark academy chain, Now Teach has so far recruited around 50 new teachers.

The charity focuses on maths, science and modern foreign languages, subjects where there is a particular demand for new recruits, giving its trainees access to government bursaries when they join the profession. Training and pay comes via the School Direct programme.

Applicants arrive from a wide range of professional routes. Recent recruits include a former NASA scientist, a hostage negotiator and the head of a hospital trust.

Kellaway, herself a Now Teach recruit who started work as a maths teacher at Hackney’s Mossbourne Community Academy last September, is “delighted” with the funding to help the charity expand in its second year of operation.

After founding Now Teach in 2016, Kellaway became a convert, joining Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney as a maths teacher last September, at the age of 57.

“We look forward to working closely with the DfE in years to come,” she said.

Gibb is also full of praise for the charity, saying: “We want to continue exploring every opportunity to attract the best and brightest into the profession.

“Great teachers are at the heart of our plans to ensure every young person reaches their potential, and the expertise that these experienced professionals have can be put to great use in the classroom, teaching pupils valuable knowledge and skills.”

The funding for Now Teach is part of a series of new measures aimed at boosting teacher recruitment, including student loan forgiveness pilot for teachers in shortage subjects and a £10 million investment in new “gold standard” national professional qualifications in schools, including courses on headship.

Changes to bursaries were also announced last year, with the amount trainees can receive for joining in shortage subjects rising to £35,000.

Now Teach will host a launch event at Hastings Pier on January 20.

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Mark Watson

    An individual wants to encourage professionals to become teachers.
    She decides to set up an organisation to help and support this programme.
    Rather than continuing her own professional career she decides to go down the path herself and become a teacher. The organisation has recruited 50-odd other new teachers.
    The organisation is given money to expand.
    Sadly, and all too predictably, said individual is pilloried on these pages.
    We need more teachers, she’s trying to get more teachers. In the wake of the news that teacher applications have dropped this looks like something that might help (that’s “help” not “solve”) the problem.
    What blummin’ difference does it make how many terms she’s completed? She’s not the one training the new teachers is she?

  2. We have zero idea if this will work as no-one has actually made it through the first year of this scheme yet, or qualified as a teacher. So why has a large tranche of public money been doled out to mates and children of Conservative politicians (check out the backgrounds). If those joining the scheme do achieve qualified teacher status they will soon be applying for their pensions. What a waste of effort!

    Well done for attracting 50 teachers, but some have already dropped out. Lucy Kellaway has written recently that “she is learning the hard way – it is brutal”

    It follows other hair brained schemes like Troops to Teachers, and parachuting in super teachers to other parts of the country, which failed dismally, and which wasted huge amounts of public money.

    There are 500,000 working teachers in the country. We need better schemes than this to maintain and retain this workforce. It seems that Nick Gibb believes gimmicks and sound bites are the answer. He is wrong.

    • Mark Watson

      As crass as this sounds, it’s not a large amount of money in context. It is 0.0006% of the DfE’s budget, and if used instead for 500,000 working teachers would equate to a one-off ‘bonus’ of 70p per teacher.
      No-one is saying this is the only way to address the teacher shortage, but it’s reasonable to think it could be ‘a’ way.
      Just doing the same thing that’s been done before is not going to work in a world and society that has been transformed over the last generation so it is the job of Government (whatever the colour) to come up with new ideas. Some will work, some won’t. In the context of the education sector as a whole, investing £350,000 in this doesn’t seem to be inexplicable madness.

  3. Now Teach isn’t a charity. It’s an initiative ‘incubated’ by ARK UK Programmes. Lucy Kellaway is its figurehead and she’s to be congratulated for encouraging career switching (I was one once, but that was decades ago).
    Giving DfE money to Now Teach isn’t new. According to ARK UK Programmes accounts for y/e 31 August 2017, ARK UK received ‘important, smaller grants’towards Now Teach from the DfE during the year.
    Now Teach receives an enormous amount of attention. Hardly surprising since – its founders know how PR works. But it isn’t the only route to teaching for career switchers. These don’t receive the same amount of publicity (but probably recruit far more than the 47 recruited by Now Teach). The most popular route into teaching – university based – receives little praise from politicians (if anything, the reverse is true).
    The latest recruitment figures show the number of applicants from mature students to teaching is down this year (see
    Nick Gibb would do better to address the significant problem of teacher recruitment and retention rather than making a high-profile announcement of a grant to ARK Programmes UK.

    • Mark Watson

      I know it’s not as exciting as a good unfounded conspiracy theory, but the six new “opportunity areas” announced by the Government last year were Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich, and Stoke-on-Trent.
      If you were expanding the operation of an organisation based in London into one of these areas, which one would you have gone for if not Hastings?

      • Just thinking aloud, Mark, nothing more sinister than that. You’re right that Hastings is the nearest of the new Opportunity Areas to London (70.8 miles from ARK HQ to Hastings Council Offices). But East Cambridgeshire Council based in Ely is not much further: 75.5 miles.
        It actually makes sense for an ARK-backed initiative to expand to encompass ARK academies if that is what they intend to do. And, as you point out above, £350k is a tiny amount of the DfE budget. But that £350k is targeted at one small place – Hastings. Only time will tell whether that’s value for money or not.