In this report we explore the careers of former Teach First participants who choose to remain in state-funded schools as Ambassadors. We compare the career profiles of the 2008 to 2012 cohorts to a matched group of teachers who began a full-time Higher Education Institution led PGCE course at a same time and have similar background characteristics.

The retention profile of these two groups in England state-maintained schools is quite different. Whilst similar proportions of those starting achieve Qualified Teacher Status at the end of year one, a large proportion of the matched-PGCE trainees never teach. A higher proportion of Teach First than PGCE trained teachers are in the classroom in year 2, but by year 3 this position has reversed and attrition from the Teach First route is higher than for PGCE teachers in each subsequent year.

The proportion staying in teaching beyond the first two years is related to the participant’s individual characteristics. Those in more recent cohorts are less likely to stay for the third year. Women are more likely to stay and ethnic minority teachers are less likely to stay. Those who graduated from a less selective university or who received a lower degree class are more likely to stay in teaching.

The association between initial school placement and the decision to stay in teaching appears to be weak. Those initially placed in regions outside London are generally less likely to stay for a third year in teaching.

Those who do stay in teaching are most likely to remain in the region in which they trained. Teach First Ambassadors do tend to move into schools a little more affluent than those they were originally placed into, but these schools still have more deprived pupil intakes than the average school in England.

Far higher proportions of Teach First Ambassadors than matched PGCE students make it to Senior Leadership positions early in their career and the wages data suggests they more frequently take on middle leadership positions. Teach First Ambassadors are earning £3k and £6k more than PGCE trained teachers by years 3 and 5, respectively.