Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so pleased to have this opportunity to join you at Bethnal Green Technology College today and to have had the chance to meet some of those individuals who have played such a remarkable part in this impressive story of transformation. It seems extraordinary to think that just a year ago this school was emerging from special measures. An enormous amount of work must have been put in on the part of staff and pupils since, what I am told, was a highly critical inspection in 2005. I have no doubt, that what we see today is real and lasting change for the better.
I have always believed that the leadership of the head teacher and the senior leadership team makes all the difference, and it is quite clear that Mark Keary’s role has been crucial here in Bethnal Green – congratulations and, on behalf of everyone here, thank you.
What is particularly heartening and encouraging for me to discover here, is that some of the senior leadership team turning round this school have been Teach First Teachers.
It is incredible to think that Teach First has only been going for six years as it seems hardly any time at all since I remember holding a seminar at Highgrove for head teachers and business leaders who were twinned together in an initiative called ‘Partners in Leadership’. Anthony Salz – who I am delighted to see here today – made a rather good speech about the benefits for business of the programme and I asked Julia to find out whether there were benefits for education too… As a result, McKinsey generously agreed to do some pro bono work for London First and Business in the Community on the challenges faced by London head teachers – and the work was carried out by one Brett Wigdortz!
It is therefore marvellous to see just what has been achieved by Brett with the tremendous support of the business world over the last six years.
Nothing, in my view, is more important than the quality of our teachers in catching the imagination of and inspiring young people in the most challenging schools.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that is why for the last six years I have run my Education Summer Schools for teachers of English, History and now Science and Geography too and, two years ago, created The Prince’s Teaching Institute. Why? Because we need to ensure that Teachers like those here today maintain and even deepen the passion for their subjects that brought them into teaching in the first place, and to ensure that they have the tools to pass bodies of knowledge on to their pupils.
More than 1,300 graduates have come into teaching as a result of Teach First and I know that Lord Adonis has been instrumental in providing the government’s support. I know many people are very grateful for that support.
I am delighted to say that I have recently taken on the Patronage of this marvellous charity and much look forward to contributing to its plans for the future. I particularly hope to see Teach First working more closely with my Teaching Institute so that we can keep even more of these talented young people in the teaching profession…
Therefore, as Patron of Teach First, I did just want to thank all those who have been involved in the training, support and development of Teach First Teachers: the University of Canterbury who have been the architects of the innovative training, companies like Goldman Sachs who have sponsored the Maximum Impact research, or Credit Suisse who have given £1million for a new Assessment Centre, but most importantly perhaps all those school leaders and teachers who, as a result of Teach First, have been able to make a greater difference to the education and life chances of our young people.