The lack of diversity at the top of UK schools is an entrenched issue; in London, where 67% of the schoolchildren come from BAME backgrounds, black headteachers account for just 1% of school leaders. There are also fewer male teachers than any of us would like - men make up 26% of teachers, with BAME men accounting for a small proportion of these. You can imagine that when Teach First receives a strong application from someone like Rare candidate David Akata - a smart, passionate Industrial Economics graduate, who also happens to be both black and male - they get fairly excited about it.
Not only did Teach First welcome David onto their prestigious two-year Leadership Development Programme, but they’ve also now made him the face of their marketing campaign. “We’re the ones who find that genius, that spark,” intones David’s video voiceover, as we see him thoughtfully sipping his pre-work coffee. David, who grew up in Hackney and went to school in Haringey, was one of the sparks lit by Teach First while he was still at school. "My English teacher was a Teach Firster and I had a mentor through Futures – a Teach First mentoring programme - in sixth-form. It opened the doors to the kind of universities I could apply for,” David told a Teach First interviewer.
As for Rare, we first met David at the African-Caribbean Society meet and greet in his first year at Nottingham University. When he applied and became a Rare candidate, we encouraged him to go for the Teach First Insight programme, a two week paid internship for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) undergraduates, designed to deliver a crash course in the skills required to get started on the path to leadership in teaching.
“I sent Rare my answers to competency questions and they helped me make it look more professional. “ David says. Having completed his intensive fortnight on Insight, including delivering a lesson himself, David was able to progress to the highly competitive assessment for the Leadership Development Programme. “Rare understands what assessment centres are like, so they encouraged me to get into the habit of answering in the right way. It was very helpful. That kind of practice helped a lot. Before, I was talking, talking, talking… but Rare helped me be more concise and made sure I was ticking off what Teach First would be looking for.”
For David, being a successful Maths teacher goes far beyond the knowledge he’s able to impart in the classroom. He goes on: “The fact is, we need more role models, especially from black ethnic backgrounds. There are not many black role models in the classroom to show the students that we can go to uni, that we can do more, that it can be done.”
And why should other Rare candidates consider applying to Teach First? We’ll give the mic to David again: “It’s a great opportunity to challenge yourself, develop your key skills, and develop yourself. You’ll learn a lot on the job.”
If you’re a penultimate/final year student and you’d like to apply for the Leadership Development Programme, contact email@example.com.
Find out why David thinks the Leadership Development Programme is worth the challenge here.
Learn more about Teach First here.
Watch the Teachers, we do more than just teach video here.
Note: Parts of this interview also appear on the Teach First website - David’s interview was conducted by Teach First on behalf of TF and Rare.
Keywords: Teach First, Leadership Development Programme, Rare Alumni