This Teach First Assessment Centre guide will tell you what to expect and show you how to succeed, in clear detail, step-by-step.
2 useful starting-point resources
- Check out our Ultimate Interview & Assessment Day Guide– it’s filled with tips, tricks and insider-secrets that will help you succeed on the big day.
- Get hold of Teach First interview preparation tools here andpractice tests here.
Ok, let’s get stuck in!
Teach First Assessment Centre – Core Competencies
In a moment we’ll drill into the detail of the Teach First Assessment Centre itself, but first we need to address something fundamental.
The Teach First Assessment Centre uses a “competency-based assessment process”, which is a fancy way of saying that there is a checklist that successful candidates must satisfy.
Your first step in preparing for the Teach First Assessment Centre should be to learn these competencies inside out. Every part of your assessment will built around them, so it’s essential to have an in-depth understanding and to immerse yourself in this language.
(Sure, you will have covered these within your online application but they’re even more important at the Teach First Assessment Centre itself!)
The 8 Competencies
Here’s a reminder of the eight essential competencies that the Teach First Assessment Centre is designed to evaluate – seek to demonstrate these at every opportunity (an easy way to do this is to reflect this language back at the assessors):
- Humility, Respect, and Empathy – Are you able to build relationships with a variety of people? Can you find common ground and build effective relationships quickly? Can you help people achieve and remain respectful?
- Interaction – Can you work as part of a team? Are you able to communicate with clarity? Are you a good listener? Can you communicate effectively and appropriately, according to the situation?
- Knowledge – Have you done your homework on Teach First? Do you know their ethos and mission? Do you have a good understanding of the Leadership Development Programme? Are you passionate and ready to make an impact?
- Leadership – Are you able to take control of a situation? Do you use your initiative as well as your knowledge? Can you remain proactive under pressure, in order to achieve? Can you take the lead?
- Planning and Organising – Can you manage and prioritise your workload? Can you work to a deadline? Are you able to keep your work to a high standard and stay efficient?
- Problem Solving – Are you innovative? Can you handle fresh challenges? Can you deal with problems in an appropriate fashion and find solutions? Are you creative enough to find a new way to deal with a problem?
- Resilience – Do you have tenacity? Can you stay positive under pressure? Are you patient? Can you persevere when things get tough?
- Self-evaluation – Do you know your weaknesses as well as your strengths? Are your goals realistic and do you have an insight in how to achieve them? Do you understand the importance of self-evaluation?
Ok, let’s look at how you’ll spend your day at the Teach First Assessment Centre.
Teach First Assessment Centre Guide – Overview of the day
The day will be mapped out in a way that assesses all of your skills and knowledge, using the eight competencies as a overarching framework.
This is what you should expect on the day:
- A sample teaching lesson and self-evaluation.
- A case study and self-evaluation.
- A competency based interview.
Let’s take a look at each element in more detail.
Teach First Assessment Centre – The Sample Teaching Lesson
Just like any part of an assessment, preparation is essential. For this part of the assessment, you will be emailed details of your lesson topic, a week before. Your lesson must be prepared in this time, so iron out exactly what and how you are going to teach.
You can find ideas and templates for your sample lessons at the Teach First Assessment Centre here and here.
Your lesson will be 7 minutes in total and in this time you need to show that you can clearly communicate the topic to your pupils, in a creative, engaging way. Be prepared to show that you are able to control your class. There could be unruly children (assessors) who want to see how you handle the disruption!
After your lesson, you will be asked to evaluate it. This will be a written evaluation and needs to be structured in such a way that honestly challenges your performance, but of course, this is also a great opportunity to highlight the depth of your teaching knowledge and -especially if the lesson didn’t go well- what could be improved upon.
Teach First Assessment Centre – Case Study and Self Evaluation
This is a group exercise and for many people it’s the least favourite part of the Teach First Assessment Centre. It will test your problem solving skills, your thought processes, your ability to express yourself and interact with the rest of the group. I’ve written an extensive guide covering this, so go and check out my Group Exercise Success Guide.
Once the group work is completed, you will be invited to discuss and evaluate how the group worked together, along with your own role within that group. This discussion will be one-to-one with an assessor. Remember that the evaluation of the group exercise is as important as the group work itself, so don’t let your guard down here. This is a good chance to leave a favourable impression.
This article will give you some basic ideas of the questions you should pose.
Teach First Assessment Centre – The Competency-based interview
Ok, now the fun really starts!
Firstly, you should check out my theinterview success area of the site – there’s TONS of resources there that will help you during this part of the Teach First Assessment Centre.
Secondly, you can get hold of Teach First interview preparation tools here andpractice tests here.
This interview will be one-to-one with an assessor and will last for 30 minutes. This is where your knowledge of the competencies will become vital. (I really cannot reiterate enough the importance of understanding and using them to your advantage.)
Take your interview by the horns and don’t let go!
- Show the Assessor that you know all about Teach First. Talk about the vision and mission. Prove that you know all about the job you’re applying for.
- Review your original application form to remind yourself of what you wrote and the examples you gave. (This is a great way to have something to fall back to during awkward moments when you’re not sure what to say next.)
- Give examples from your experience that show the competencies outlined earlier. Do not just use the ones from your original application. Take a look at the competencies and think about your other experiences, in relation to them. This is hard, so practise it beforehand. Prepare 3 examples for each competency and rehearse explaining them aloud.
- Convince the assessor that they want you! Tell them why you should be on the programme and what you can bring. You must sell yourself. The competition at the Teach First Assessment Centre is stiff, so don’t be modest!
- If you are asked if you have any questions… Have some! It will highlight your enthusiasm and passion for the programme. Trust me, it reflects poorly on you if you have no questions. (This Guardian article has a good list of questions you can ask.)
- If you don’t understand a particular question, ask the assessor to repeat it or explain it more fully. Don’t be shy in seeking clarification.
- Practise the interview scenario with your partner, mum, dad, goldfish etc. Get someone to help you by asking the questions. Rehearse your key messages and sentences. Practise aloud. Practice aloud. I know you feel silly doing it, but practice aloud.
Teach First Sample Interview Questions
Here’s a few that are bound to show up during your Teach First Assessment Centre interview:
- How have you responded to a situation in which your authority was challenged?
- When have you come up with an innovative solution for a problem?
- When have you had to show leadership qualities?
- How have you dealt with failure?
- How have you tackled a problem creatively?
Important! Update your CV before your interview
Lots of candidates make the mistake of thinking they don't need to improve their CV once they've been invited to interview.
Big mistake. Here's why:
1) You should update your CV before the interview event and take a fresh, new-and-improved version with you. (Ideally one that is TAILORED to the role you want.)
2) At interviews and assessment days, your CV will form the basis of your interview. (Whether the interview is competency-based or not.) You'll be expected to answer questions on your CV and usually to walk your interviewer through it.
3) This is the big one: After you've left your interview or assessment day, your CV will be held in the hands of the people who are making the hiring decision. They will literally be looking at your CV while making the hiring decision.
(I've been in this position many times. After spending an entire day meeting and interviewing lots of people, the candidates' CVs are the documents you use to remind yourself which candidate was which and also to revisit the candidates' skills and experience.)
Your CV summarizes the 'professional benefits' of you and is what leaves the last impression. So one last time: Your CV makes your first and last impression; it's a crucial document. Make is as strong as it can be.
Two useful resources
Teach First Assessment Centre – Offer Of Employment & Tests
After you ace the interview, you will be offered employment with Teach First. But this offer will be dependent on your completion of the Professional Skills Tests.
These tests are mandatory for any prospective teacher, who wishes to enrol on a teacher training course. They are provided by Learn Direct and you will sit the tests at one of their centres. These skills tests will include:
- Teach First Numeracy Test – Numerical reasoning and mathematics questions will be used to measure your numeracy skills. This test is broken down into mental arithmetic and written, ‘on screen’ questions. The mental arithmetic questions will be supplied to you via headphones. Calculators will not be permitted but handwritten calculations are acceptable. The second part of the test is computer based and you will have an ‘on screen’ calculator to aid you. You will have 48 minutes to complete both sections.
I’ve written in-depth success guides for numerical tests. You can find my numerical reasoning success guide (including practice tests) here.
- Teach First Literacy test – Your spelling, grammar, punctuation and comprehension will be tested, in order to assess your literacy skills. The spelling test must be completed first but you can then complete the other three areas in any order. You will need to wear the headphones provided for the spelling test. All other sections will be computer based. You will have 45 minutes to complete all sections.
I’ve written in-depth success guides for verbal reasoning tests. You can find my verbal reasoning success guide (including practice tests) here.
Preparing for your Teach First Professional Skill Tests
The minimum pass requirement for both tests is 60%, so it is vital that you know what to expect. You can probably guess what I am going to advise here: Practice!
Thanks for reading!
I hope you have found my guide useful? I hope you feel better prepared and have a clear understanding of what you can do to maximise your chances of success at the Teach First Assessment Centre. Preparation is the key to both confidence and success, so please avail yourself of the resources I’ve shared with you here. Good luck! 🙂
After getting through the online application process, you will be invited to their assessment centre. It is a full day assessment centre which involves three main tasks: one-to-one interview with a TeachFirst staff/ambassador; group case study and; presentation of your chosen lesson title. The first of these is usually the one-to-one interview where you will be given a series of competency questions from their lists of competencies:
Humility, respect and empathy (HRE)
Planning and organising
The interview is relatively straightforward if you have prepared a couple of different examples for each competency. The assessor was patient and very friendly. The great thing about the TeachFirst interview is that they give you a chance to come back to questions if you don't feel confident with it at the time, this gives you a chance to think about it whilst going through other questions. The questions themselves are predetermined and goes through each competency so it is very important that you have prepared these. However, they have no access to your online application so you can use your answers which you provided on there. I would say that this part of the interview was the easiest for me as I prepared thoroughly.
Most difficult question
1) Please give an example of a situation that you have created which was leading to, or resulted in a negative outcome. Explain how the measures you put in place helped to improve the situation.
2) Please give an example of the time when you had a positive influence on someone.
My best advice would be to go through each competencies and list different examples for each one as well as finding ways to incorporate those competencies in the group task and lesson plan. Also, during the day it is vital that you just relax, be yourself and have fun.
Lastly, the best thing you can do to be successful at this assessment centre is PREPARE, PREPARE AND PREPARE!
Experiences at the assessment centre
The assessment centre is relaxed and very informative. There were about 15 of us at the time and we were given breaks in between the different tasks. This gave us time to talk amongst ourselves as well as do some last minute preparation. We were given detailed instruction in the morning of what we were required to do during our time there. It was really well organised and everything ran smoothly. The staff there were very helpful and it felt that they wanted us to do the best we can. The atmosphere didn't feel at all tense.
After you've done your one-to-one interview, you are then assigned to a group of maybe 4-7 people depending on the number of the participants during the day. The group tasks involves discussing different solutions to a problem and deciding on an answer as a group. You are given a few minutes to read over an information pack. The best way to get through this is by making quality contributions as well as involving other participants into the conversation. Do not take over the whole discussion or interrupt other participants whilst they are speaking.
The last task of the day is the lesson preparation. A week or two before your assessment centre you are given a choice of lesson titles and out of these you must prepare 1 lesson which you will present to two adult assessors (acting like kids) for exactly 7 minutes. It's really important that this lesson is both creative and engaging. You must also be able to control the situation when it comes to bad behaviour or lack of attention. However, this certainly was the most fun part of the day!
Overall, TeachFirst is looking for someone that match their criteria so just make sure you know and apply the list of competencies throughout the selection process. You will also be given self evaluation forms which is crucial to identifying your strength and weaknesses. My advice is just to make the most out of the day and be yourself!
- Group / Panel
- Senior Management
- Verbal reasoning
- Assessment centre
- Group excercise
- Background check
- Competency based questions
Rating the interview
- How would you rate the pre-attendance information? 5/5
- How well was the interview organised? 5/5
- What was your overall impression of the organisation? 5/5
- What was your overall impression of the selection process? 5/5
- Did the interview reflect the overall values / culture of the organisation? 5/5
- Would you recommend this company to a friend? 5/5
- Did you want the role following your interview? 4/5