Revealed: meetings between the Scottish Government and Teach First | Blog

In recent weeks both The Herald (see here and here) and The Guardian (see here and here) have published stories regarding communications between Teach First – an organisation specialising in ‘fast-track’ teacher training – and the Scottish Government.

Below is a list of meetings dating back to 2012 along with links to the original documents from which this information has been drawn (released following a Freedom of Information request).

Those familiar with the Scottish Government’s record when it comes to transparency will be unsurprised to discover that no minutes were taken during three separate ministerial meetings with Teach First, despite official briefings being prepared and civil servants also being in attendance.


16/5/2012 – Scottish Government officials met with Teach First representatives

This meeting took place the morning after Teach First had hosted a reception at the Scottish Parliament. Then education secretary Mike Russell attended the reception. No names of participants are confirmed but an email suggests Brett Wigdortz (Teach First) may have been present.

Mike Russell asked “to be kept closely informed of developments…”.

Brief record of meeting (redacted by Scottish Government)


30/1/2014 – Mike Russell met with Brett Wigdortz & James Westhead (Teach First)
Also present: Fiona Robertson, Ian Mitchell, Rachel Sunderland (Scottish Government)

A full briefing for this meeting was prepared but no minutes were taken and no further notes of what was discussed are available.

Official briefing docs (redacted by Scottish Government)

No minutes


22/4/2016 – Stuart Robb & John Gunstone (Scottish Government officials) met with James Westhead & Reuben Moore (Teach First)

This meeting seems to originate in a conversation between James Westhead (Teach First) and Mark Leishman (Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales). A Scottish Government official makes a specific request for notes of the meeting but receives no reply. The email chain ceases at this point.

Email chain

No minutes or other records


26/8/2016 – Stuart Robb & David Roy (Scottish Government) had a telephone conference with Jonathan Dando (Teach First)

This discussion seems to focus on the Scottish Government’s plans for “new forms” of teacher education in Scotland, and serves as preparation for the meeting with Nicola Sturgeon.

It includes the following:

“We agree to ensure [Teach First] had the opportunity to tender if we go down that route.”

Notes of conversation


21/9/2016 – Nicola Sturgeon met with Paul Drechsler (Teach First)

Also present: Clare Hicks (Scottish Government)

A full briefing for this meeting was prepared but no minutes were taken and no further notes of what was discussed are available.

The official briefing document classes this as a “private meeting”.

Official briefing docs (redacted by Scottish Government)

No minutes.


10/1/2017 – John Swinney met with James Westhead (Teach First) & Peter Duncan(Message Matters)

Also present: Stuart Robb (Scottish Government)

A full briefing for this meeting was prepared but no minutes were taken and no further notes of what was discussed are available. Prof Lesley Sawers (Equality and Human Rights Commissioner for Scotland) is advising Teach First but was unable to attend this meeting.

Official briefing docs (redacted by Scottish Government)

No minutes


30 or 31/3/17 – John Swinney met with Brett Wigdortz (Teach First)

This meeting took place during the International Summit on the Teaching Profession 2017 in Edinburgh. Reference to the meeting appears only in a heavily redacted email exchange

Email exchange (redacted by Scottish Government)


NB The Scottish Government has also been lobbied by Prince Charles on behalf of Teach First, but refuses to release details of this communication. You can read about this story on The Guardian website.

As highlighted in this article for The Guardian, documents released by the Scottish Government also suggest that former First Minister Alex Salmond discussed Teach First with the Prince of Wales during a meeting on the 12th of June 2013

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