Inspirational people: Teacher
Each week we’ll be telling you stories of inspirational people. These are stories of real people who have overcome adversity to get the job they always wanted.
This week we tell the story of Brett Wigdortz, a man with entrepreneurial spirit who was determined to make a difference and change education in London‘s schools for the better.
Making a difference
In 2002 New Jersey-born Brett Wigdortz was a junior management consultant with American firm McKinsey, and was on placement in London. He was part of a team investigating ways to improve educational results in London’s schools.
He was shocked by what he saw. “In some of the worst schools, it didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of learning happening. They didn’t have high expectations for the kids. It seemed that there was just a containment strategy, how to keep kids off the streets rather than ensuring they gained the knowledge they needed.”
He was initially laughed at when his team came up with the idea of Teach First, a programme to recruit high-flying graduates bound for the City and divert them into low-achieving schools, to provide inspiration and leadership. It didn’t help that he was seen as just a junior consultant and had been sacked from his previous job delivering cooked chicken.
However, Brett realised he was the only one with the passion to see the Teach First programme through and if he didn’t do it, the idea would land up on the scrapheap. “I had never led anything before, but I had a belief which was really important, and probably a pushy nature,” he says.
Eleven years later, the founder and chief executive of Teach First is one of Britain’s biggest recruiters and his work in deprived schools won him an OBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list.
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