Teach First trainees to boost National Citizen Service ranks

Education charity Teach First is teaming up with the National Citizen Service (NCS) to expand the number of volunteers working with the scheme, the Prime Minister announced today.

Participants on Teach First’s teacher training programme, who are selected based on their potential to be influential teachers in disadvantaged communities, will be offered the chance to support NCS during their training.

This can be before starting the programme, during their two years on it, or after they have completed it.

Teach First will not make it a requirement, but the aim is for all participants to spend some time supporting NCS from 2017.

Piloted in 2011, NCS involves groups of teenagers undertaking outdoor activities, community work and trips away, which can last from a few days up to three weeks.

Mr Cameron last year guaranteed a place on the NCS summer school programme for every 16 and 17-year-old in England as an election pledge.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said NCS is now approaching its 200,000th participant. More than 40,000 young people signed up in 2013 and 150,000 places have been funded this year.

But the scheme, which is currently funded directly by the Treasury, is not being backed with extra funding to support its growth. Money for expansion will have to be found from within existing budgets.

Teachers who volunteer through Teach First will have a range of ways to take part, from leading NCS participants on an outward bound week to mentoring them as they take part in local community challenges.

Bonita Jordan, a 2013 Teach First Ambassador who worked on NCS as a mentor last year, said the experience was “incredible”.

“Leading young people, outside of the classroom, gave me a totally different perspective on the challenges young people face,” said Ms Jordan.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has however said the partnership could increase the workload on new teachers who are “already experiencing a huge learning curve as they start their career”.

Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of ATL, said: “The last thing we would want to see is new teachers collapsing under the weight of an additional expectation that they give up precious and already very limited ‘free time’ to do even more work.”

Speaking at the launch of the partnership, David Cameron, said: “NCS is a fantastic opportunity for young people from different backgrounds to come together to gain life skills and give something back to their local community.

“Teach First’s mission to break down social barriers makes its trainee teachers ideal volunteer mentors to engage with and inspire young people on NCS. This fantastic partnership will create thousands more opportunities for young people to benefit from NCS.”

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