Our School community benefits from an intake of highly capable, intelligent, enthusiastic individuals who come to us ready to learn and share their ideas. We are able to shape their first experiences of the profession and encourage them to adopt our philosophies on education. In addition to the obvious CPD benefits which come from encouraging to staff to take on the role of mentors, working with a local SCITT has opened the door to a range of CPD opportunities and forums for sharing best practice which are of benefit to new and experienced staff alike.
As is the case with all schools, one of our biggest challenges is in recruitment. Recent graduates tell us that ‘Teach First’ has a significant presence on university campuses, but that routes into the independent sector are less high profile.
Our trainees are each allocated two mentors: a Subject Mentor, either the Head of Department or an experienced subject teacher who meets the trainee on a weekly basis; and a School Mentor who meets them fortnightly.
Our trainees take on 50-90% of a standard teacher’s timetable depending on experience. Subject mentors receive a number of additional non-contact periods per fortnight which allow them to meet with and observe the trainee on a regular basis.
The most significant investment of time in setting up the programme was in researching ITT providers. We wanted an institution that would work with us in designing a rigorous, high quality programme around the demands of a busy independent school where trainees take on their own classes from day one and are expected to make a full contribution to the life of the school. It was also important to us that the placement, assignments, Subject Knowledge Enhancement and Professional Studies programmes would take place at times of the year that would not compromise the learning of our pupils or overburden our trainees.
Our trainees are welcomed into all aspects of school life. They are appointed as tutors in either day or boarding houses, with some undertaking evening and weekend duties. Trainees participate fully in the School’s Co-Curricular programme including coaching sports teams, directing drama productions, and leading musical ensembles.
When we began making enquiries about a School Direct programme with a local SCITT, we had an expectation that the partnership would drive standards among new-to-the-profession teachers. We were keen to select a provider that would offer support to our mentors as well as our trainees, and hoped that we would be supported in devising a training programme which would draw on our strengths and help us in areas where we lacked expertise. What we found at the George Abbot SCITT was a team committed to working with us to ensure the highest standards of teacher training as part of the ITT programme, but also a group of like-minded professionals seeking to bring schools together for the sharing of best practice. Our relationship with the maintained sector had been somewhat distant, but in exploring training provision for new teachers, it quickly became apparent that there were further opportunities for inter-school CPD that could benefit all our staff. We are now involved in a Teachers’ Alliance through the SCITT and are looking forward to seeing the connections develop further.