EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to get more graduates into teaching by supporting the expansion of the Teach First charity.
Teach First will aim to train 2,000 exceptional graduates with high academic ability as teachers by 2015/16 – four times the number who took part in 2010 when the coalition Government came to power.
From next year it will also expand into new parts of the country, including the south coast in 2013 and theeast of England in 2014.
The Government hailed the move as an important step in its ambition to get the best graduates into schools.
In 2010, the charity received Government support to expand the Teach First programme into primary schools and to double its intake to 1,000 for 2012/13.
And in June this year, the Government pledged further cash so the programme could triple in size, training 1,500 graduates from 2014/15. It means the charity will reach more than 80 per cent of eligible schools by 2014. Teach First works in primary and secondary schools where at least half of pupils come from the poorest 30 per cent of families in the UK.
Mr Gove said: "The quality of teachers has a greater influence on children's achievement than any other aspect of their education. Every pupil, regardless of their background, deserves high-quality teaching in order to succeed in life.
"Teach First helps get some of our brightest graduates into some of our most challenging classrooms. We are committed to supporting the charity."
The Government is already providing £33.4m funding for the programme to recruit and train 1,250 top graduates as teachers next year. The majority of this funding goes directly to Teach First's 14 university training partners. The graduates will go on to work in some of the country's most challenging schools. The expansion plans will also make Teach First the largest graduate recruiter in the country next year.
The charity recruits exceptional graduates with 2:1 or above and key personal skills. They go through a thorough assessment process and intensive two-year training programme.
The announcement comes as part of the Government's drive to raise standards in schools by making it a highly attractive career for top graduates.
Latest figures from the Teaching Agency reveal that more than seven out of 10 graduates choosing to train for a career in the classroom have a 2:1 or higher – the highest proportion ever recorded. They also showed that the quality of trainee teachers has improved in all the key English Baccalaureate subjects – including maths, physics, chemistry and modern foreign languages, which have been traditionally hard to recruit to.
Brett Wigdortz, chief executive and founder of Teach First, said: "We have always been extremely grateful for the cross-party support Teach First has received from governments, as well as the support of our other partners, including schools, universities and businesses, who collectively ensure that we can achieve our goals.
"This support is vital to help us achieve our ambitious aim to ensure that no child's educational success is limited by their socio-economic background."