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! 🙂
March 20, 2015, by Hannah Smith
My First Assessment Centre Experience
By Hannah Smith, student blogger
So, last Friday I ventured to London and felt like a ‘big city’ businesswoman for the day, taking the tube like a pro with my Oyster card to offices with a fantastic view (see pic!).
Not a bad location for an office!
But it wasn’t all in the name of role play; I was invited to my very first assessment centre at TeachFirst.
I’d applied for their Leadership Development Programme with the view to getting some experience ahead of the ‘real deal’ of applying for their teaching programme in my third year, but managed to do well enough at the application stage to get invited to a day-long assessment of my suitability and ‘fit’ with their competencies.
Following the advice and information on the Careers and Employability Service website, I soon realised that preparation was key, so I made sure I did my research, took the opportunity of a phone call from a graduate recruiter to be certain about what the day would involve and what I was being assessed on at each stage.
The assessment day
Like many businesses who adopt this style of recruitment, TeachFirst base their assessment centre on their core values and eight vital competencies which you must demonstrate across the three parts of the day.
First up I had a one-to-one interview with an assessor
It’s also interesting to know that most assessors are former trainees and have taken part in the scheme themselves. The interview was comprised of six questions which asked me to provide examples of when I had demonstrated different competencies, and then a situational task which was a real-life scenario presented to me on a piece of paper with questions below for which I had one minute to answer.
Next came the group activity
This was a role play activity where the five of us were put in a room and given a case study scenario to read for 15 minutes, and to then discuss and reach a decision within a further 21 minutes while being observed.
I found this the trickiest part of the day as it’s definitely the most unpredictable – you don’t know who you will be in a group with or what their style might be. One thing which I think perhaps helped me to stand out here was that I had thought beforehand about which of my skills I wanted the assessors to see in this activity, and therefore wasn’t panicked about being the loudest voice or speaking the most.
I wanted to get across that I was thorough, understanding and empathetic, which I did quite well as others in the group jumped in too quick and misunderstood the task! Another shock element of this was that we were put on the spot at the end and asked to stand and answer a question within one minute.
The final part of the day was the one I knew most about in advance: a sample lesson
Having been emailed the lesson titles to choose from a week before the day, I had planned every detail of my seven-minute sample lesson and knew exactly how I wanted it to run. I was concerned that treating two assessors as primary school children might cause an issue for me but their acting skills made it very easy to jump into character and combat their childlike disruptions without too much fuss!
I felt this was definitely my strong point of the day as I had again thought through a lot about what they would want to see and made my lesson structured and interactive for the two ‘pupils’. Finally, after this I had to do a 15 minute written self-evaluation, which is easy to overlook but is actually an integral part of the assessment process – they want to see that you are able to reflect on your own work.
It wasn’t all hard work…
It was an action-packed day, as it is with most assessment centres, but actually it was surprisingly fun. No really – it was enjoyable! Because of the nature of inviting a group of about 20 people on one day, there was quite a lot of waiting around but the facilities were great; sofas, a TV, tea and coffee making facilities etc. What perhaps struck me most about the day though, was how much I enjoyed meeting people; people who were from all walks of life with the same ultimate goal, but very different stories.
My advice for anyone with an upcoming assessment centre is definitely to prepare: make sure you know about the components of the day and what it is they want to see – that way you’ll know how you can best showcase yourself. Don’t forget, there are plenty of events and resources at your disposal too – I’d urge you to have a practice assessment centre (as this was my ‘practice’ for my third year applications).
Want to hear more student stories like this? Read Abi’s post on ‘Why Failing an Assessment Centre Made Me Realise I Was Pursuing the Wrong Career‘ where she shares her lowdown on an assessment centre at Disney HQ, and Alice’s article ‘How I Survived my First Assessment Centre’ to hear what paces the British Council will put you through at theirs.
If you’ve got an assessment centre coming up, watch at the assessment centre video that covers each stage of the process. To watch, log in using your University username and password.
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