Russell Hobby, CEO, Teach First

The Zurich Community Trust (@ZCTrust) – @Zurich Insurance’s UK charitable arm has today confirmed education charity @TeachFirst as its chosen education partner. ZCT plans to commit £1M to the charity over 5 years as the partners work together with the shared goal of building a fairer education for all in England and Wales. The funding will help schools navigate the challenges of Covid-19, support trainee teachers, ensure Year 6 pupils can build key skills as they transition to secondary school and bring vital careers education to pupils in Year 9 and above as they prepare for life after school.

This new relationship will all be supported by Zurich employees, with ZCT providing 10 volunteers to Teach First’s Coaching Programme, increasing to 20 in 2022 and 30 in 2023. Zurich employees throughout England will dedicate three of their appointed volunteering days to support the professional development of teachers across the country by coaching them through challenges they may face and helping them improve their performance in the classroom and in leadership positions. Later in the year, a broader pilot involving Zurich employees will see volunteers actively running workshops with students in Year 9, 10 and 11 in schools throughout England. Covid-19 restrictions will likely dictate that the majority of these sessions take place remotely, with activities including CV workshops, interview advice, and a vocational introduction to insurance.

Over the course of the five-year partnership ZCT will continue to review and amend its relationship with Teach First to ensure that as circumstances evolve, they continue to address the most pressing needs of schools.

ZCT also acknowledges that the lockdown digital divide between the poorest and most well-off students must not go unchallenged. Only 2% of teachers working in the most disadvantaged communities of teachers working in the most disadvantaged communities believe all their pupils have adequate access to devices for home learning:

  • Four out of five (84%) schools with the poorest pupils do not have enough devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating pupils can keep learning, a new survey from the education charity Teach First has revealed.
  • This compares to two thirds (66%) of schools with the most affluent pupils, showing that while all schools continue to face significant digital barriers - it is the poorest pupils’ education that will suffer the most if self-isolating.
  • Furthermore, schools with the most affluent pupils are three times (29%) more likely to have been

Steve Grimmett, Head of Zurich Community Trust, commented:

‘Teach First’s stellar reputation speaks for itself so we are thrilled to be investing in them so they can reach their aims. The past twelve months has put into sharper focus the value of good education programmes.

“The partnership will be important in ensuring that students have an understanding of how the workforce operates – which will be vital to help them take advantage of employment opportunities. This is supported by the fact that 75% of teachers believe that developing employability skills is vital for supporting students post Covid-19.

“All children have suffered as a result of lockdown and as is all too often the case, those from socially disadvantaged and ethnic backgrounds have suffered disproportionately. For a developed country like ours, that is simply inacceptable. All the data supports that minor interventions, tailored towards a child’s employability, instigated early on in life pay huge dividends towards a child’s future employability.”

Russell Hobby, CEO, Teach First commented:

“Support for teachers throughout their career and high quality careers advice for pupils are absolutely essential parts of ensuring we can maximise the potential of every young person in this country – so we’re delighted to be working with Zurich Community Trust to achieve that goal. The challenges our country faces during and after Covid-19 will not be resolved overnight. Long-term partnerships such as this one, which support our education system and prepare our young people for employment, will make a huge difference to our recovery in the years ahead.”

Teach First is a social enterprise charity which aims to address educational disadvantage in England and Wales. Teach First coordinates an employment-based teaching training programme whereby participants achieve Qualified Teacher Status through the participation in a two-year training programme that involves the completion of a PGDE along with wider leadership skills training and an optional master's degree.

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