17th November 2020
School-based initial teacher training (ITT) has been becoming increasingly popular amongst schools and trainees over the last decade. Last academic year, 55% of trainee teachers in England were on school-based training routes as opposed to university-based PGCE courses.
Many schools use school-based ITT courses as a succession plan for teaching staff, especially in hard-to-recruit departments like Design & Technology and the STEM subjects. So with the likes of School Direct and the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship becoming an integral part of schools’ recruitment and retention toolkit, it’s vital that schools can offer a positive, productive working environment during graduates’ journeys to QTS and a PGCE. In this article, we will take a look at how to make sure your school is prepared to nurture and develop trainee teachers!
Whichever teacher training route and provider you choose, the university/SCITT will assign each trainee with an experienced ITT tutor who will monitor trainee progress, largely from afar. Whilst the tutor will attend school visits once or twice a term and keep in regular contact, your school will be expected to nominate a school-based mentor who is a specialist in the trainee’s phase (primary) or subject (secondary).
School-based mentors are expected to sit down for progress meetings with trainees on a weekly basis, organise observations of the trainee’s lessons, team-teach with the trainee and be there for general, day-to-day support. Whilst mentors don’t necessarily have to be SLT members or the most experienced teachers in the department, it’s important that you nominate a successful, qualified teacher who will relish the opportunity of taking on additional responsibilities. Mentorship can be a great way to give a promising qualified teacher some additional responsibility or it can be the first step in moving someone out of the classroom and into middle or senior management.
If you do choose to give this responsibility to a more recently qualified teacher, then you might want to consider having a ‘lead trainer’ – someone in the SLT who can oversee the mentor’s work and point them in the right direction if there are any unexpected difficulties.
By involving potential mentors in the interview process for your ITT places, you will be able to get a much better gauge of how the successful applicant will gel with their new colleagues.
Before you have even interviewed applicants for your ITT course, you may very well have a good idea of the amount of teaching that you are expecting them to deliver throughout their training.. However, as any GCSE English teacher will tell you; the best-laid plans of mice and men can often go awry!
We all know how challenging a journey it is to obtaining QTS and even the most confident and competent aspiring teachers can have their blips.
This is why it is crucial that you ensure there is some flexibility in the trainee teachers’ timetabling – so that if they begin to struggle with a particular class, aspect of teaching or the copious amounts of reading and coursework they have to get through, that you can respond to these issue s with some extra observations, more time to do coursework or additional CPD.
By approaching ITT as a long-term staffing solution as opposed to a quick fix or a gap in the timetable, you will develop well-prepared, robust teachers who have been given the time and resources to progress at a reasonable pace. Offering support and guidance through an adaptable approach will improve the rapport you have with your trainee and their loyalty towards you. This should have an effect on your chances of retaining staff members and creating a happy and supportive working environment.
observations and team teaching
As trainee teachers fulfil their roles, you’ll want to observe them in action, see progression and offer feedback. Micromanaging your trainees can cause unnecessary stress for both mentors and trainees, but appropriate feedback and reflection can support teacher development if delivered correctly. Trainees can gain a broader perspective when given the opportunity to observe qualified and senior teachers in action, especially when it comes to classroom management. If you can arrange regular observations of teachers in different areas of the school, trainees will be able to see different teaching methods and ideas in practice. Variety and breadth of experience can be transformative for trainee teachers and their long-term success.
If you’re ready to discuss how to create or expand trainee teacher placements at your school, book a meeting with our dedicated team. We can help you ensure you have the time, knowledge and capacity to train up a new generation of teachers.
We’ve also published information around funding and how your school can maximise the apprenticeship levy and other government schemes to fund the cost of trainee hires. Read the full guide here.
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