Recruitment agency slammed for ‘Teach First only’ job advert

A teacher recruitment agency has posted a “potentially discriminatory” job advert asking for Teach First only applicants.

The ad, which was posted on the Guardian Jobs website by Edustaff on February 2, shows vacancies in maths, science and English at a school in Manchester for a “Teach First qualified middle leader”.

This means others who have trained in university-led initial teacher training or on school-based routes such as School Direct will not be eligible to apply.

Teach First recruits graduates with upper level degrees and places people into schools in deprived areas for two years while they become a qualified teacher.

The job advert reads: “Are you a Teach First qualified teacher looking for the next step? Ready to take additional responsibility?

“These schools have highlighted that they have suitable roles for those hungry to take the next step on the career ladder and really make use of their management aspirations.”

At the bottom of the advertisement the recruiter adds: “Please note: please only apply if you have completed the Teach First programme and looking for progression.”

Edustaff told Schools Week the agency advertises vacancies “according to the parameters” given by their clients and it does not have “any kind of relationship” with Teach First.

A spokesperson said: “All applicants to this role are considered equally according to their professional merits and attributes.

“We don’t sit in judgment on our clients’ preferences in their talent acquisition strategies.”

Teach First said it has been made aware of job adverts but has not worked with the recruitment agency to post the adverts or fill the positions advertised.

A spokesperson added: “We will be looking into the adverts further.”

Michael Merrick, a teacher in Cumbria who spotted the advert, said it was appalling to only ask for Teach First recruits.

He said: “For outstanding teachers and leaders who have come through other training routes to be ruled out of employment opportunities on solely that basis seems both unjust and, in light of the recruitment challenge more generally, an odd narrowing of the field.

“Adverts like this can give the impression that there is a two-tier system within teaching, with the outstanding candidates who did not come through Teach First training routes being judged as less capable or desirable than those who did. This is both unjust and untrue.”

Mr Merrick added that there is an implication in some advertising that Teach First has a monopoly on the most talented.

“It would appear this view is filtering down to employment, rendering those who came through other routes as second-class teachers in the jobs market,” he said.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the advert was a “curious” way of recruiting teachers, which limited the potential applicant pool at a time of high teacher shortages.

“The weakening of leadership support, through the virtual demise of the National College for Teaching and Leadership, may lead to others making similar recruitment decisions, which is a short-term, divisive and potentially discriminatory approach which we would urge schools to avoid,” said Dr Bousted.

“Teach First is a strong programme but surely it would be fairer for their graduates to compete equally with others from other training routes for positions, and schools can then pick those with the best combination of experience, skills and training to do the job, from whatever route they come.”


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