Rural Teaching Partnership launched to build a fair education for pupils in rural communities


The Church of England, education charity Teach First and the Chartered College of Teaching are today launching the new Rural Teaching Partnership. The partnership will run in ten pilot regions across England and will see trainee teachers, trained by Teach First, start two-year placements with Church of England primary schools in September 2021.
Two children or pupils smile while reading books as rolling hills are shown to be behind them

By coming together, these three organisations hope to tackle teacher recruitment challenges currently faced by schools in poorer rural areas, with evidence showing that rural school leaders face greater difficulties with staff recruitment and retention compared to urban schools.

With more than half of its 4,644 schools situated in rural areas, the Church of England is the majority provider of rural schools nationally.  Within ten pilot regions, schools serving areas of rural deprivation will be selected for placements either in Church of England schools, or non-Church of England schools which are part of a Church of England federation or multi academy trust. 

All trainee teachers in the partnership will be enrolled on Teach First’s Training Programme, which has recruited, trained and placed over 15,000 trainee teachers in schools serving disadvantaged communities to date. They will receive ongoing support and training from Teach First throughout the two years and will also benefit from bespoke training for rural school settings, such as teaching multiple year groups.

The partnership will also see new rural education networks set up for peer support between trainees. The Chartered College of Teaching will have a lead role in setting these up across the pilot regions, focusing on high quality teacher development sessions on issues particular to rural contexts.

In its 2018 publication, Embracing Change, the Church of England highlighted the challenge for rural schools, where delivery of education services is typically more expensive per child than in urban areas, but emphasised its commitment to these schools as part of a diverse national education provision. The report highlighted the need to recruit excellent teachers and leaders, and to find new ways of working collaboratively, aims which the new scheme will help to progress.

The ten pilot dioceses are Leeds, York, Truro, Salisbury, Chelmsford, Norwich, Oxford, Hereford, Derby, and Bath-and-Wells (see map of geographical area).

Pupils in rural setting

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, the Church of England’s lead bishop for Education said: “Children in rural communities deserve excellent teachers, and this partnership is about helping to ensure the best outcomes for children in every community.

“More than a third of the 15 million people alive today who went to a Church of England school will have done so in a rural area, and will have special memories of their time.

“We are committed to running excellent schools in rural communities and ensuring that children who live and learn there get to work with fantastic teachers.” 

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First said: “Rural schools, particularly in areas with high deprivation, face complex challenges. This means they can struggle to recruit and retain the teachers and leaders they need for their pupils. 

“This partnership aims to break this cycle. Not only by getting teachers to where they’re needed most, but by building powerful networks of support around them to ensure they thrive. When we get this right, we can create a fairer future for every child.”

Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, said"I am pleased that the Chartered College of Teaching will be part of this exciting initiative. It will shine a light on the expertise of teaching communities in rural areas of England."

More information:

The Church of England’s rural schools:

  • There are 4,644 Church of England schools
  • 53 per cent of Church of England primary schools are situated in rural areas
  • A quarter of all primary schools and over 200 secondary schools in England are Church of England.
  • Of 380,000 pupils educated in what are classified as ‘Rural small or very small’ (<210 pupils) 60 per cent are Church of England schools (228,731)
  • Approximately 1 million children attend Church of England schools.
  • About 15 million people alive today went to a Church of England school.
  • With 250 sponsored and over 650 converter academies, the Church is the biggest sponsor of academies in England.
  • Over 500 independent schools declare themselves to be Church of England in ethos.

About Teach First: 

  • Teach First is an education charity with a mission to build a fair education for all. Through a range of school leadership programmes, the charity supports teachers, leaders and schools facing the biggest challenges, serving the most disadvantaged communities.
  • The charity has now recruited over 15,000 teachers and leaders, has 75 head teachers in its alumni and has supported over a million pupils.
  • Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they teach a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) timetable; and around half stay on for a third year. More than half of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching.
  • The charity supports whole leadership teams through Leading Together. Develops individuals to become effective leaders through Middle Leader, Senior Leader and Headship programmes leading to a National Professional Qualification. And provides Career Leader training to develop a long-term, school wide careers strategy to improve student opportunities after school.
  • Teach First currently operates in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coast, South West and the East of England.