Training our teachers



I had a conversation with a long serving Head Teacher once where they exclaimed that they ‘never’ had student teachers in their school because ‘why would you have someone teaching your pupils who you haven’t employed’. After much discussion I had convinced, myself at least, that supporting teachers in training was a vital part of the work that schools do – at least in part – and that, also, Universities had a big part to play in that a well.

It comes as no surprise, of course, that there is much disagreement over the Initial Teacher Training programme. The universities and their hold on them have been much fragmented over the last five years and we now have an almost bewildering array of ways in which one can get into teaching.  And all underpinned by the Teaching Standards which I am sure we all know like the back of our hands….

Rather than waste a post arguing about the politics behind funding and provision I thought I’d be a bit more positive and explore three things initial teacher training could improve on, from my perspective… Purely practical stuff, obviously..

  • A variety of schools / settings – geographically too!

Loosely linked to the idea of ensuring exposure to a wide variety of teaching styles and teachers (and pupils, of course!). I am astounded at the idea that one school, or maybe two schools can provide a good enough grounding. Teachers should move schools and trainee teachers should see vastly different settings. Teacher’s moving schools is a different blog post..

  • There needs to be a reading list – with different theories…

Yup – and not one where everyone reads an article then discusses it, an actual reading list. One which will challenge, not just reinforce common thinking. Here course leaders need to challenge themselve I’m afraid… keep up to date and offer journals as part of recommendations.

  • True partnership with the schools – does it work?

This works for university as well as SCITT based programmes. Perhaps one school is truly entrenched and supported, but more often than not the course provider makes no attempt whatsoever to check the (second?) school they are being placed in. Find out what makes that school unique, or how the behaviour policy is different. I know, every student carries out an ‘observation week’ – but should providers not support here too? Perhaps offer some national context to what they are seeing? Too often policies are ‘collected’ and then nothing… radio silence… come in for observation week!

Of course I know that every place is slightly different, ever course as a slightly different push on something – but we owe it to the next generation of teachers to get this right.


Incidentally the Head that prompted these thoughts now has student teachers in…

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