A good result for trainees on GCSE day
The joy and pain of GCSE results day proved the perfect introduction to the life of a teacher for a group of trainees in Bristol.
Celebrating along with 16-year-olds and helping some of them cope with disappointment showed the new entrants more about their chosen profession than any textbook, lecture or Powerpoint presentation.
The student teachers are among the first in the country to begin training for their job in a new way, mixing practical experience with formal learning,
They are the pioneers of programmes launched as part of the Teaching School run by the Cabot Learning Federation in east Bristol.
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Some of them are career changers, switching to teaching under the Government's new School Direct scheme.
The majority are postgraduate university students who applied to the University of the West of England in the usual way but then opted to take part in the new course developed by the CLF and UWE.
Claire Carter, who heads the Teaching School, said: "They began by experiencing what it feels like to be a teacher at the start of a new term."
The trainees will learn the theories of teaching and learning and related classroom management such as behaviour and discipline and see it in action in the classrooms of the federation's schools and beyond.
Mrs Carter said: "The Government wants schools to play a greater part in teacher training. We have been working with UWE to pilot a more school-based model. We have been trying to get the best of both worlds and put it together."
The Cabot federation now has six secondary and four primary schools in the area but the Teaching School goes wider than that, bringing in expertise from other schools across the area.
It has set up an alliance of schools that are recognised leaders in particular areas of school practice, among them Ashley Down Infant School, Bridge Learning Campus, Bradley Stoke Community School and Corsham Primary.
The Teaching School remit goes much further than new entrants. It runs a Teachers for Tomorrow course for sixth-formers, enabling them to find out whether a career in the classroom is for them before they make their university choices. It also runs programmes for subject leaders and middle leaders and is licensed to provide the National Professional Qualification for Headship.
"It is important for the federation not to be insular," said Mrs Carter. "We want to learn from other schools as well as sharing the expertise we gain and learn from partners in the alliance.
"We are committed to attracting and working with outstanding teachers for the benefit of all schools, not just those in the federation or the alliance. A key element is the involvement of nearly 30 SLES – specialist leaders in education – who have been recruited to share their knowledge and current classroom experience across the system. These include support staff and business managers as well as teachers and come from schools across the former Avon area. We have chosen people with a real desire to improve outcomes in schools other than their own," said Mrs Carter. "There is a real breadth of expertise. We are developing school-to-school and peer-to-peer support, which is helping to put school improvement in the hands of the schools."