Brett Wigdortz

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Brett Wigdortz
Brett Wigdortz.jpg
Personal details
BornOcean Township, New Jersey, United States
NationalityAmerican, British[1]
Residence(s)North London, England
OccupationFounder of Teach First
Social entrepreneur

Brett Harris Wigdortz OBE (born in 1973) is the Founder and Honorary President of Teach First,[2] an educational charity working to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment in England and Wales. He was CEO of Teach First from its launch in 2002 until October 2017.[3] He is originally from Ocean Township, New Jersey, United States and is a dual US/UK citizen.

He is co-founder and a trustee of Teach For All,[4] an organization created with Wendy Kopp (who also founded Teach For America in 1989) to help social entrepreneurs in other countries start similar programs and create a global network of social enterprises dedicated to addressing educational disadvantage. On 12 July 2018 he was appointed as the chair of the National Citizen Service Trust.[5]

He is currently the co-founder and CEO of, a digital B-corp focused on reimagining at-home childcare and unlocking the potential of all children.[6] Their mission is to train up a new generation of childminders to deliver high-quality childcare grounded in pedagogy. Brett was inspired to move into the early years space after seeing first hand the educational inequalities already in existence by the time children were entering primary school. [7] The movement has so far inspired recruits from all walks of life including those previously in white collar roles [8] and men. [9]

Wigdortz was a trustee of the National College for Digital Skills and Future Leaders,[10] which recruits and train the next generation of outstanding headteachers for challenging urban secondary schools.

Education and career[edit]

Wigdortz grew up in Ocean Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey.[11] he graduated with an Honours bachelor's degree in Economics and International Studies: Politics and Diplomacy from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia[12] in 1995, and a master's degree in Economics from the University of Hawaii[13] and a Masters Certificate in Asian Studies from the East-West Center in 1997.

While studying at the University of Hawaii, he worked as a researcher at the East-West Centre in Honolulu, focusing on energy and economic development issues in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands. He co-authored a paper on future Asian energy flows ("China and Central Asia's Volatile Mix: Energy, Trade, and Ethnic Relations")[14] and consulted for the State of Hawaii.

During 1998, he worked as a journalist in Indonesia and Hong Kong, covering the Asian economic crisis and political changes in Indonesia. In 1999, he went on to develop South East Asia policy and business programmes at the Asia Society in New York City. In 2000, Wigdortz joined McKinsey & Company[15] as a consultant in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, focusing on retail banking, organisational effectiveness, and Asian microfinance.

In August 2001, Wigdortz transferred to McKinsey's London office and was placed on a pro bono study for business organisations London First and Business in the Community to look at how their business members could help improve results in London schools. It was during this project that he wrote the original business plan for Teach First and then took what was originally planned as a six-month leave of absence in February 2002 to develop and build support for the idea.[16]

Founding Teach First[edit]

In July 2002, Teach First officially launched in Canary Wharf, with a team of 11 employees and with Stephen O'Brien CBE and George Iacobescu CBE as co-chairs of the Board of Trustees. After the launch, Wigdortz continued to lead the organisation as CEO.[17]

Since then, Teach First has supported over 10,000 individuals to work towards raising the achievements, aspiration, and access to opportunities of pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds across the country. The charity has expanded into nine regions across England and into Wales, employing over 500 members of staff and working in partnership with over 1,000 primary and secondary schools, 14 universities, over 40 corporate supporters and many other charities and organisations.[18]

In 2007, Wigdortz was named the UK Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year[19] and the 2011 CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) European Leadership Award[20] for his entrepreneurial success and outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting education. Wigdortz was also awarded "Charity Principal of the Year" at the Charity Times Awards 2012. He was particularly recognised by the judges "for his vision, tenacity and commitment to social change."[21] The Evening Standard named him one of the 1,000 most influential Londoners.[22] He was appointed an OBE (Officer in the Order of the British Empire) for services to education in the 2013 New Year's Honours list.[23] In 2015, Wigdortz was named one of the "Debrett's 500"[24] most influential people in the UK. In 2016, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Warwick.[25]

In 2013–2018, Teach First was the largest graduate recruiter in the UK, with over 1,400 new participants a year.[26]

National Citizen Service Trust[edit]

In July 2018 Wigdortz was appointed as the chairman of the board of the National Citizen Service (NCS) Trust, the public body responsible for the management of the government's NCS programme, following its reconstitution as a Royal Charter Body.[27]

In July 2021, Wigdortz was re-appointed for another 2 year term. [28]

In March 2020 the NCS Trust revealed that in 2019 NCS programme participation numbers had fallen for the first time, by 8% year on year to 92,000 having peaked at 100,000 in the year 2018, the last season prior to Wigdortz' assuming his role. The NCS Trust stated that numbers were expected to remain flat in 2020 at 90–95,000 due to delays in the implementation of its new contracts with delivery providers.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Wigdortz is married and lives in North London with his three children. He has travelled to over 70 countries in the past 18 years. He has also written a book, about the first decade of Teach First as a guide to other entrepreneurs, entitled Success Against the Odds – Five lessons in how to achieve the impossible; the story of Teach First.[30] It was named WHSmith's Business Book of the Month in September 2012.


  1. ^ Teaching's man with a mission to free young Britons from 'slavery', The Guardian, 29 October 2012
  2. ^ Teach First."Teach First official website". Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Brett Wigdortz to leave Teach First". 27 January 2017.
  4. ^ Teach For All."Teach For All official website" Archived 2012-07-23 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 29 October 2012
  5. ^ "Brett Wigdortz appointed as Chair of the National Citizen Service Trust".
  6. ^ "Tiney - about us".
  7. ^ "Opinion: Kate Middleton is right – our misunderstanding of children's early years development is dangerous". 30 November 2020.
  8. ^ "From finance chief to childminder: How home schooling has inspired new careers". 28 March 2021.
  9. ^ Rear, Jack (21 July 2021). "Why the pandemic has led to a boom in the number of male child-minders". The Telegraph.
  10. ^ Future Leaders."Future Leaders official website" Archived 2014-10-28 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 29 October 2012
  11. ^ Lovegrove, Nick. The Mosaic Principle: The Six Dimensions of a Remarkable Life and Career, p. 53. PublicAffairs, 2016. ISBN 9781610395571. Accessed May 16, 2017. "At the time, Wigdortz was just the junior analyst on the McKinsey team, an American from Ocean Township, New Jersey, who had recently transferred to the London office after a series of early professional experiences in the United States and Far East, and who had been almost randomly assigned to this engagement."
  12. ^ University of Richmond."University of Richmond official website". Retrieved 29 October 2012
  13. ^ Department of Economics Newsletter, Winter 2003. "Economic Currents" Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 24 October 2012
  14. ^ JAMES P. DORIAN, BRETT H. WIGDORTZ, DRU C. GLADNEY (May 1997), No.31 "China and Central Asia’s Volatile Mix: Energy, Trade, and Ethnic Relations" The AsiaPacific Issues. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  15. ^ EducationState [file://,%20Barber%20&%20Teach%20First.htm "McKinsey On Trial: Where Now For Gove, Barber & Teach First?"]. Retrieved 29 October 2012
  16. ^ Jenny Knight (10 July 2012) "Where only the very best will do". The Times. Retrieved 24 October 2012
  17. ^ Teach First. "Teach First official website" Archived 2013-07-24 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 October 2012
  18. ^ Teach First YouTube Channel "The Best of 10". Retrieved 29 October 2012
  19. ^ Ernst and Young "Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year London and South Region Award Receipts" Archived 2015-05-28 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 23 October 2012
  20. ^ The Council for Advancement and Support of Education. "CASE official website". Retrieved 23 October 2012
  21. ^ Charity Times Awards 2012 "2012 Charity Times Awards winners announced ". Retrieved 26 October 2012
  22. ^ Evening Standard (7 November 2011)"London's 1000 most influential people 2011: Education". Retrieved 26 October 2012
  23. ^ "New Year Honours 2013: full list of recipients". The Daily Telegraph. London. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  24. ^ "Debrett's 500 2015". Debrett's. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  25. ^ "List of all Honorary Graduates and Chancellor's Medallists".
  26. ^ "Teach First scheme 'biggest recruiter of graduates'". BBC News. 10 July 2013.
  27. ^ "Founder of Teach First to chair National Citizen Service Trust".
  28. ^ "Brett Wigdortz reappointed as Chair of the National Citizen Service Trust".
  29. ^ "NCS sees first decline in young people taking part".
  30. ^ Afua Kokayi (October 2012) "Non Fiction – the books that really live?".Impact magazine. Retrieved 29 October 2012

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