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Why choose a school-led teacher training provider?

Why choose a school-led teacher training provider?

October 22nd 2015

Once you have decided that you want to be a teacher, there are a number of things you need to do and decisions you need to make. A big decision is ‘which route is best for me?’. This post outlines what a school-led approach might look like and explains some of the feedback we receive from our current trainees about why they are confident they chose the right route for them.

Why did we decide to lead a teacher training programme?

We have been involved in teacher training for many years, offering placements from other school-led providers and HEIs. Through our designation as a Teaching School we had the opportunity to become a provider of teacher training. We felt our partnership of schools had something special to offer trainees in that we could provide both outstanding training, by experienced, practising teachers and a career development path that is unlikely to be available within a single school. In terms of ‘what’s in it for us?’, we want to ensure we recruit and train the best new teachers into our partnership, and develop them into the best future teachers and school leaders. Leaders within our schools very much see ‘training our own’ as the best, and most secure,  way  to ensure they have the best teachers in place for their students.

What to look out for when choosing a school-led programme

We believe that potential trainees have to make an informed choice about which route into teaching they take and that different routes offer their own clear advantages. There are also differences between the programmes different school-led providers offer. Programmes have varying amounts of professional and subject study delivered by  the school  or their university partner and so you need to  be clear about ‘how school-led’ your particular school-led programme actually is and how much of a factor this is for you . There may also be differences in qualification outcomes. All school-led providers will offer QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) and many will offer a PGCE as a part of their programme. You need to be clear about what the provider you are considering offers and what the right outcome is for you. In many cases, the most important factors will be quality of training and support, location of provision and potential of a career within a strong partnership of schools.

What comes next are reflections by our own trainees. These are based on our model of school-led teacher training which is almost entirely delivered in-school and leads to QTS and PGCE.

What our trainees say

1.‘You are involved in school right from the beginning’

Our trainees are involved in the induction process for our new Year 7 tutor groups in July, before we even begin the training programme in September. They were a part of our school ‘new staff induction’ in August, meaning they had a head-start on school systems. They were a part of the school INSET days in September, which set out the strategic direction of the school. All of these experiences are important in becoming a fully-fledged  member of the team. This pays dividends later.

2.       ‘Our particular programme means we are taught the pedagogy in small chunks each week, as opposed to having it front-loaded’

Trainees have weekly professional studies that prepare them for the challenges they are about to face in their school-based placements. If you are about to start planning and delivering a number of starter activities with some of the classes you will be eventually teaching, this will be reflected in what you are learning and reflecting on that week. Because you will be back in school the following week, there will be time to reflect on the experience you gained with professional tutors and also peers on the programme.  The weekly programme can be flexible to reflect the need of individuals in a particular cohort.

3.       ‘The support system in placement schools and training is amazing’

Support systems in schools will be very similar whichever route you choose. We do however believe that because schools are looking to employ those training with them, the investment in your training will be high quality. It is impossible to comment on how our training compares to other routes but we do believe that having practising teachers leading the training, it is absolutely relevant to the needs of our trainees. Teachers leading the training are outstanding practitioners themselves and are highly engaged with the most up to date research on effective pedagogy. This is being continuously tested in their own classrooms.

4.       ‘Building relationships with staff and students from day one’

Having a main placement school that you train with means trainees forge relationships over a period of time. They will be a co-tutor from day one, meaning they have equal responsibility for their tutees with an experienced member of staff. Being a tutor is a crucial role in schools and so this experience is valuable preparation for when trainees take their first steps as an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher). Trainees will have a 6-8 week placement in a second school, but many maintain communication with parents of tutees in their ‘lead’ school even during the time they are away. They know that they will return here after the placement and will be picking up where they left off!

5.       ‘Everything I am learning can be placed in  the context of a live school environment’

Even an informal discussion before a session begins is made relevant. This week trainees have been visiting primary schools. Before the weekly training session began, they were discussing how calm the atmosphere was in the primary classroom. This led to a discussion about how as a teacher in a secondary school, we might find ways to create the same atmosphere, despite the whole school systems (such as moving between lessons) that might make this more challenging. The discussion was immediate, relevant and focused around actions that could be taken the next day if appropriate.

6.       ‘Direct, continuous contact with experienced teachers providing guidance, advice and support is invaluable’

Our programme is led by practising teachers and by being a genuine part of the school team, you will have access to a high level of support from the whole team.

7.       ‘Having the opportunity and challenge of teaching on a daily basis at an early stage,  means new skills can be immediately put into practice and developed’

Professional tutors who visit us from other teacher training institutions often comment on how our trainees have the capacity, and are, considering advanced aspects of pedagogy at an early stage of their training. This may be because the trainees have been exposed to schools from day one. Their observation phase of the programme may have started a considerable time before others, who will join us from different routes. They may have begun teaching before some have even stepped foot in a school.

8.       ‘Your teachers are still learners themselves and can give you current examples’

Trainees are exposed to the continuing professional development that we all benefit from. We all value and embrace the ongoing process of learning how to be the best teachers possible and our trainees become part of that culture of self-improvement. We are all trainees at a different stage of the journey!

9.       ‘The idea of learning a new skill e.g. behaviour management and being in a position to implement it straight away with a class I am teaching’

We learn in the same way as the students in our classes. If we don’t practise something straight away, we are likely to forget it. Weekly training sessions, followed by immediate practise back in schools support embeds great practise and allows for reflection and improvement.

10.   ‘There are so many members of staff I can turn to for support’

Due to the positive relationships created through all of the aspects of school life trainees are involved in, from Year 7 induction, tutor teams, INSET, staff development and social activities, they have built a network of support that goes beyond the curriculum team they work with most closely. This is very difficult to achieve on shorter placements which may start part way through a year.

11.   ‘Having been at University for my recent education, I wanted to be immersed  in a different environment’

This is very much a personal choice! We know teachers who thoroughly appreciated time out at university during their training year to have a period of time out to reflect. This was the experience I had although I found it thoroughly frustrating: I was training to be teacher and I wanted to be back in school! Weekly training sessions allow for reflection on a weekly basis and are timely and relevant. Meeting with peers each week develops and builds your own personal network of support.

12.   ‘Having a mentor working with you, means that you get regular feedback and you are not alone!’

On most routes into teaching, you will have a mentor to support you. Because our aim is for you to be employed within the partnership of schools and most likely within your lead school, mentors will be supporting you to potentially be a part of their own team in the future.

13.   ‘We are in  school four days of every week with one day of training: we are immersed in the teaching experience’

Being immersed in the teaching experience is regularly mentioned by our trainees. Having regular, quality time to reflect is equally important and weekly training sessions allow for this.

14.   ‘The students in my classes – I get to take them through the whole year!’

Trainees clearly value the fact that the relationships they build are not temporary.

15.   ‘Meeting each week with others who are experiencing the same highs and lows! The support network is brilliant’

A really important aspect of our programme is the fact that trainees regularly meet each other at the weekly training sessions. This means a genuine network of support is created which often extends beyond the programme and into working life, bridges the gap across schools which may not have had such relationships in the past.

What to do next

1. You can find  out more about what we offer at Teach@Weydon by visiting the teacher training pages on our web site.

2. Register with us now to find  out more about our own information events or to find out about school experience in our parternship of schools.

3. Follow us on Twitter @TeachWeydon (Please click the button at the bottom of this page now!)

4. Sign  up for the next SE region 'Get into teaching' event on 28th November

What else to read

Applying to a #Traintoteach programme

Subject Knowledge Enhancement

Filed under: Teacher training Posted at 07:26

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