tc winter 2009
foundations for teaching careers
Developing your careeR: How to get off to a flying start at school
Plug in and learn: utilising the great resources of the internet
snowed under: keeping on top of the mountain of paperwork
stemming the flow: combating the fall in numbers of science students
Spring to success? The Government says that starting school at the age of four will help children born in July and August boost the start of their school careers. The policy is already causing controversy By Jessica Moore
n 19 October, the schools secretary Ed Balls set out new plans for primary provision in the UK. The change? From September 2011, every four-year old will be offered a free place at school or nursery, bringing the age at which children start full-time education forward by a year. This follows recommendations by the government advisor and former Ofsted inspector, Sir Jim Rose. Rose believes that starting school at four will counteract the penalty those born in the summer months face throughout their education. The plans have sparked controversy – not least because they were announced just days after the biggest independent inquiry into primary education in 40 years, the Cambridge University Primary Review, recommended delaying the start of formal learning until a child turns six. The Cambridge Review argues that England, where children currently have to start school at five, is out of step with international practice – internationally, most children enter full-time education at six. Delaying the start of formal schooling, the Cambridge Review says, would extend the preschool, play-based curriculum to give children a better grounding before they start formal lessons. It found a “strong and widespread conviction” that children are ill served by starting formal learning at four, claiming it “dents children’s confidence and risks long-term damage to their learning”. One local authority in the UK claimed that the combination of an early start age, testing, and pressure to reach government standards was creating a generation with mental health problems. Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the Commons select committee that covers education, has similarly argued that British children are being “hot-housed” into formal schooling too early. However, Balls claims that “there is clear evidence the sooner summer-born children start good-quality pre-schooling, the sooner they close the gap on their peers”. So, he plans to offer every family a free place at school or nursery from the September, January or April after their child turns four. If they opt for a nursery place, the child will learn the early years play-based curriculum. If a family chooses to start their child at school, it will mean more formal lessons in reading and writing. Balls insists that the scheme will be optional and will not force children into formal primary education if they are not ready. Further, he stresses that, under the scheme, parents could still choose to keep their child at home until they turn five. “We know that not every four-year-old is going to be ready for reception at the
same time – so it is important families have the choice when to start full-time or parttime classes, or have free early years’ provision if they want it,” he said. So what’s the problem? Some parents feel that “allowing” children to learn earlier, and giving families “more choice” over early years education brings pressure. “There’s a gap between the ideal scenario and the practical one”, admits Emma Anderson, a working mother of two. “While I much prefer the idea of delaying formal lessons until my kids are six, the fact is that I need to work, and childcare is expensive. If there’s a free full-time place at school for my daughter when she turns four, I’ll probably take it. Wealthier parents might turn it down – but I think most won’t.” Another argument takes issue with the basis of Balls’ proposal: there is a divide in opinion over why children born in July and August are at greater risk of falling behind. Is it because the children are up to a year younger than their peers? Or is it, as Balls believes, because they receive less formal schooling because they start later? In a survey of 700 teachers, published 8 April by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers
(ATL), a Kent-based teacher warns that starting children at school younger may have a negative impact on teachers, and on the classroom environment. “Summer-born children, especially those born in August, often lack the maturity to cope with school. They would be better off staying at preschool for longer – but there is also a lot of parental pressure for the children to start school so they can go to work.” This teacher coins the resulting problem for educators: “I often feel like a child-minder and not a teacher.” The ATL survey also found that 30 per cent of teachers and support staff working with primary and junior children think statutory education should not start until children are at least six years old, and well over a third (37 per cent) think pupils should be over five. It further finds that three in four teachers say it is wrong to admit children to mainstream classrooms at the age of four. In the survey, many teachers pointed out that children from Scandinavian countries did better in international tests than those in the UK, despite the fact they did not start formal schooling until age seven.
Claire Jagger, a primary teacher in Cornwall, said: “I have taught in Finland, Lapland and Russia and have seen firsthand the way in which their seven-year-olds start school ready to learn. They are emotionally ready, socially able, physically content, and mature enough to deal with the curriculum in school, bringing good solid life experience and a thirst for learning.” Further evidence that Balls’ plans may be ill conceived comes from Northern Ireland. A report by researchers at Queen’s University, Belfast, published in October – around the time Balls proposed lowering the school start age in the UK – claims that children in Northern Ireland are being damaged by starting school too young. The study recommends that the start age for school children in Northern Ireland be raised from four to at least five. Currently all children aged three and four are entitled to a part-time (12.5 hours a week) nursery place, but this entitlement stops once the child reaches school age. A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was in negotiations with the Treasury on funding the change.
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foundations for teaching careers
Nurturing teacher growth By Helena Pozniak
There’ll always be dips in teaching; everyone finds placements difficult at some point but the rewards are huge
hen Carolina Bowie’s school placement started going badly, she had “a great big whinge and felt much better”. A mature PGCE student, she was placed in a small rural Yorkshire school which had recently been brought out of special measures. “I was placed with a teaching head teacher who’d been brought in to sort it out. She was extremely organised and efficient – like a whirlwind. But any mistakes I made weren’t dealt with sensitively – I was in her office like a child being disciplined. It was humiliating and undermining. I couldn’t communicate with her.” Bowie reluctantly raised the problem with her mentor, and found that she was in fact doing well on her placement. “But she’d sure as hell given me the wrong message and nearly put me off.” Bowie’s advice? “Don’t bottle it up. Don’t be fooled into thinking it should be marvellous and wonderful all the time. Even in the best experiences, not everything goes right.” At 37, Carolina is now in her third year of teaching at a primary school. “I was lucky. Once I’d flagged the problem, I got a lot of support.” It’s not easy being a newcomer in school; and that’s before you’ve even entered the classroom. You’ve used the wrong mug, sat in the wrong seat and upset the caretaker. You’re under scrutiny and trying to learn at the same time. While many teachers are jittery before their first placement, often the second time around can be even trickier – more is expected of you and you still have to learn the workings and etiquette of a new community. Take heart though; although you can’t pass the course without meeting standards in the classroom, it’s reassuringly rare for a student to have to repeat a placement. “You go in at first with no experience and it’s all about developing in a protective environment,” says Jocelyn Sumner, partnership director at Exeter University. “The second placement can be more of a shock - it still feels new but you are doing much more.” Teachers compare their work with learning to drive – at first requiring considerable conscious effort before coming automatic. Inevitably some students will have less than rosy experiences, but, frustratingly, says Sumner, some still suffer in silence. “There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the year and finding out about something that would have been so easy to resolve at the time – quite often it’s simply about better communication with a tutor,” says Sumner. Exeter students benefit from a school-based mentor as well as a tutor, who encourages the student to look at the broader side of their development. “If there’s the slightest problem, tell someone,” she says. One common complaint is that teachers seemingly have little time to devote to trainees feeling out of their depth. Another
Placements are not always easy, but trainees should try to squeeze every last drop of learning out of the experience
Growing tips for placements Expect less “nurturing” during your second placement – you’ve already learnt the basics Be professional – not just dressing appropriately, but think of yourself as a staff member of the school rather than a student. Be punctual and positive – try to greet staff and pupils with a smile Expect staff to be too busy – but try to engage with them as much as possible Accept criticism as constructive rather than a personal attack; often teachers don’t have time to sugar the pill Shout early if there’s a problem – university tutors should be able to liaise and resolve most hitches
Go the extra mile – offer to take a class if a teacher is busy, volunteer to help with clubs, anticipate how you could lessen the load Engage with non-teaching staff – caretakers, cleaners and lunchtime assistants are a source of knowledge and help Advice comes from all quarters – use what suits you. Don’t miss an opportunity to record good techniques and gather resources If you struggle with a class, ask to observe them with other teachers Plan more than you think you need – and don’t expect lessons to go to plan Set up peer support groups to share tips with fellow trainees
is that feedback they give is excessively negative and demoralising. “Teachers often forget how vulnerable trainees can feel,” says Dr Karen Aylward, programme director for secondary PGCEs at Exeter. “They often just need to hear a ‘that went well’ before being told what needs to improve.” Try and take criticism constructively, advises Sumner, and don’t dwell on the negative. “Sometimes trainees spend so much time thinking about what they are doing, they don’t think about what the pupils themselves are learning.” And if you experience a personality clash with a particular teacher, try your hardest to maintain professionalism. “It’s a hard lesson but you can work positively with someone you don’t get on with. You don’t have to be best friends,” says Aylward. Trainees forums are full of advice along the lines of “suck up to your teacher”, which actually makes very good sense. Being proactive – spotting when you could step in and help, anticipating needs – will benefit everybody. Offering to help with lunchtime duties or running after-school clubs will help you get to know pupils and teachers in a less formal context. Don’t be worried about “pestering” teachers, advises Aylward. “You have to be prepared to go the extra mile. It’s more annoying to have someone who waits for everything to be handed to them rather than someone who asks to help.” Being proactive certainly boosted the employability of newly qualified teacher Charlotte Seymour, who during her placement helped run an amnesty international club. “I ended up taking discussions and bringing in resources. It wasn’t like a classroom because they’d chosen to be there,” she says. Both her placements during her secondary PGCE in Religious Education inspired her once she’d acclimatised to the different settings. “You go into your second school and it feels like you’ve never taught a lesson before. Nothing prepares you for the first time you stand in front of 30 strangers.” When one year 10 class got the better of her, she sought help. “I dreaded teaching them, they were so boisterous.” She observed how other teachers dealt with the class, then applied similar methods during her own lessons. “We developed a really good relationship. It shows how you can turn things around.” When a student struggles consistently in more than one placement, it may be time for an honest appraisal, says Sumner. “If the same things are going wrong again, it might be more about the trainee than the school,” she says. Occasionally staff will suggest the student takes a week off teaching to observe different teaching styles. “It allows them space to reflect and decide what the problems are; it might be as simple as that,” says Sumner. “There’ll always be dips in teaching; everyone finds placements difficult at some point but the rewards are huge. You need to squeeze every last drop of learning out of the experience.”
PlanNing a successful job hunt By Sarah Jewell
TC™ is published by Educate Ltd, 84 Great Suffolk Street, London, SE1 0BE. The opinions in the articles are those of the individual writers and not necessarily of Educate Ltd or any associated personnel.
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inding a job in the teaching profession is not always an easy process and for popular jobs there may be fierce competition. Enquiries to the Teaching and Development Agency website are up 49 per cent, year-on-year and this means there are more applicants for jobs. Graham Holley, chief executive of the TDA, says: “recruitment activity at national level has been so successful that we no longer need to regard English as a shortage subject.” Maths and science teachers are still in short supply, however, so teachers qualified in these subjects should be able to find a job as well as getting Golden Hellos of £5,000 (the financial incentive package offered to teachers of priority subjects in state-maintained secondary schools). One of the best places to look for jobs is your local authority listings and it is worth getting on their mailing list. The TES website is another good place to start – www.tesjobs.co.uk – and also look at job recruitment and employment agencies and the national press. The recuitment website, www.eteach.com, also offers jobs and information on getting into teaching.
Many students are offered jobs in the schools where they did their placements. If you are enjoying your teaching practice in a particular school it is always worth leaving your CV and letting the school know that you would be interested in a post if it becomes available. Once you start looking and see a job you like then act fast. Most applications have to be in within two weeks of the adverts and interviews are held about a week later. Ring for an application form and information pack about the job immediately. And then set some time aside to fill in the form and make a good impression. To do this you need to address every point in the job specification and give examples of relevant experience. Then you will need to write your personal statement. This your chance to sell yourself – so try to get it right and follow a few simple rules. l Unless asked otherwise it should be type written and no more than two sides of A4. l Tailor your statement for each new job application according to the nature of the school and the local authority and the advertised role. l Make sure use a spell check or get a friend to proof read it. l Use lots of examples to support what you are saying – for example if you are
talking about a particular teaching strategy show how you have used that strategy to help a pupil. l Try to show in your personal statement why your skills are relevant and give you the edge over other candidates. l Be well-informed and up-to-date with current trends in education and don’t leave any gaps in your employment history – it looks odd and will be investigated. l Aim to answer three key questions – Why are you committed to teaching? How can you change your students’ lives? What are your goals? Explain why you are applying to that particular school and find out as much as you can about it – go and visit it and have a look at the school’s report on the Ofsted website www.ofsted.gov.uk and have a look at how it appears in the league tables www.dcsf.gov.uk/performancetables/. Make sure that you have included details about your teaching course. If you are a PGCE student, mention your first degree, your dissertation (if appropriate), any classroom-based research projects, any relevant modules you studied and any special features. You need to give details of your teaching experience and this should include the year
groups that you taught; the subjects covered; an overview of your teaching practice – the curriculum you taught, assemblies delivered, trips, etc and an indication of assessment methods used, behaviour management strategies, etc. When describing your classroom management strategies give examples of how you planned, delivered, monitored and evaluated learning outcomes and how you worked with assistants or parents in your class. And you need to include information about any previous work experience. Give details of any special skills or qualifications you can offer that are relevant to teaching; such as: music; languages; sport; ICT; first aid/life-saving certificates, running a club such as Brownies or Cubs, youth work and summer camps. And finally write a clear and concise cover letter. This is your opportunity to show why you are the best person for the job by making a connection between your qualifications, interests and experience, and the particular abilities, skills and qualities that the job requires. Quote any reference number and source or date of job advertisement. Tailor the letter to show that you are applying to that particular school, and that it is not a standard letter sent to many schools.
foundations for teaching careers
CAREER DEVELOPMENT By Helena Pozniak
t was a love teaching that prevented Margaret Baxter from following a traditional career path. “I didn’t want to go for headship. I wanted to stay at the coal face; stay in touch with what goes on in the classroom.” A former head of infants and teacher of 30 years, she became instead an advanced skills teacher (AST), one of 8,000 in the country. “We’re a bit like Ghostbusters,” she explains. “Schools might ring asking for support and we give regular training sessions for half a term.” As a specialist in information and communication technology for St Helens Local Authority, she spends a day a week supporting local teachers, helping to spread best practice, whilst retaining a class of her own. “I love the variety, it’s very stimulating.” Rates of pay for ASTs can reach around £50,000. Traditionally, ambitious teachers have set their aims at a predictable and linear career path passing through head of departments and up to deputy, assistant head and headship. These days there are more opportunities for staff who want to progress in different directions. And as a new teacher, you can begin to plan your career as soon as it begins. “People coming into teaching should be thinking how they can be the best teacher they can, right from the start of their career,” says Sara Morgan, head of professional learning at the General Teaching Council for England. “We’ve come on in leaps and bounds in analysing practice. It’s ok to keep learning - we know nothing goes well 100 percent of the time.” Teaching is a tightly regulated profession and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are required during their induction year to meet a range of core standards – some relating to their own personal and professional development. This is an area which has recently received more investment. “NQTs can’t rest on their laurels,” says Liz Francis, director of workforce strategy at the Training and Development Agency (TDA). “These core standards set out what you must know, understand and be able to do to successfully complete induction. Use these standards to identify what your training needs might be.” Sounds intimidating? Teachers in their first year should in fact be strongly supported in their professional development, with a 10 per cent reduction of teaching hours on top of 10 per cent for planning, preparation and assessment – amounting to a day a week – but not a day off. An induction tutor at school will responsible for organising training and development and you will receive an individual programme of monitoring and support. Where to begin? Close to home, advise experts – in your early years, your own colleagues may be your best resource. “Use the knowledge of teaching staff around you,” says Francis. “Don’t be worried to ask if you could observe someone teach and pick up ideas – in some schools this doesn’t happen enough. Some of the best teachers are very modest too, so they might not ask you.” TDA research shows that the best way
of learning and improving comes from observing new methods, applying them in the classroom and assessing their impact. “Gone are the days when people thought merely attending courses was the best training,” says Francis. That said, many local authorities will often arrange regional training and follow-up sessions for NQTs which can be enormously helpful, not just in terms of applied learning but for the chance to meet and swap experiences with teachers at the same stage. “It does help to have a broader experience – schools can feel very insular,” says Alan Hunter, academic senior director at Creative Education, a company which offers some 450 training courses, some targeting NQTs. “A new teacher might be feeling that he or she is not a success, simply because behaviour management doesn’t come easily, for instance,” says Hunter. “If you can meet up with peers who find themselves in the same boat, it can really lift you.” Schools will have a budget for training, though funds are limited. “But good schools recognise that this is vital,” says Hunter. Once you’ve used the core standards to pinpoint what area you might need to concentrate on – and many new teachers highlight behaviour management – use online resources as well to research solutions, advises Francis – the TDA has just launched a database of resources and advice. If you can show you’ve researched a
problem, put new knowledge into practice and achieved results, this will raise your professional standing. “If you are ambitious, show you can take the lead,” advises Francis, “and that you’re progressing with your own professional development.” Consider also making well-judged horizontal career moves, she advises. “Be proactive – you might not necessarily get promoted but a sideways move will still help you learn. And if you’ve been leading in different areas, it will look good on your CV,” she says. Teachers entering their induction year can also further their own development with a relatively new scheme introduced by the Teacher Learning Academy, an initiative of the GTCE. This offers a way of teachers to broaden their practice without increasing their workloads. To take part, a teacher selects their learning focus, and usually works with a coach or colleague to plan how to research the area, put theory into practice, and evaluate the results. Some 7,000 projects from all areas of teaching have been completed to date and some schools have embarked upon using the TLA as a tool for professional development, aiming to root learning in every day classroom teaching. Language teacher Emma Archer, 24, has completed a TLA project during her second year of teaching. She brought in measures to improve what she saw as poor knowledge of German vocabulary for sixth form students.
She works at Ossett School and Sixth Form College in Wakefield, which is a flagship school for the TLA where staff are encouraged to use it for professional development. “Professionally, it helped – it made me see it was not just me encountering this problem (of low vocabulary), which was comforting,” says Archer, who is also studying for a masters. “I researched this in more detail for my masters – doing the project complemented this. Also, it felt good to do for myself,” says Archer. “You do a teaching degree, one year induction, and then you are in the classroom – it’s not long with your subject matter. Continuing to study opens your eyes to issues involved in teaching that you didn’t cover in the PGCE.” Any teacher can take part in TLA projects, says Morgan; projects are pitched at four levels of engagement and completing projects in the higher levels will earn credits towards a masters. “As benchmark advice,” says Morgan, “an NQT might make plans for starting a project late on in spring term and completing in the summer term. It’s not a mechanistic process but if you’re ambitious and want to show you can work at a wider level, you’d work through the four stages in about 10 years.” www.tda.gov.uk/teachers/professionalstandards/ using.aspx - core standards, Training and Development Agency www.gtce.org.uk/tla Teacher Learning Academy www.creativeeducation.co.uk – offering educational training and consultancy
If you are ambitious, show you can take the lead and that you’re progressing with your own professional development
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foundations for teaching careers
Plug in lessons boost careers From lesson plans, to help and support to see you through the first few years, the internet offers trainee teachers a very valuable resource
By Helena Pozniak
he internet offers a huge range of resources for teachers – literally thousands of lesson plans, active teacher-led forums and downloadable resources. Don’t overlook though other sources of information and support – from unions to colleagues to fellow trainee teachers. Here are the main sources of information:
Teachers TV www.teachers.tv
It’s like a window on the world of teaching and learning. You can watch hundreds of lessons and model your teaching
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“It’s like a window on the world of teaching and learning,” says Adrienne Jones, former teacher and regional CPD advisor at Teachers TV. “You can watch hundreds of lessons and model your teaching,” she says. Established five years ago, Teachers TV has become a must-have for trainees and professionals. Programmes, current and archived, cover a range of lessons in action, techniques and career guidance. “Trainees do model their lessons on what’s been done before – it’s a brilliant way of modelling good practice. Or you can watch teachers working and adapt your own ideas.” Teachers TV is also used by trainees as a study resource for assignments, and Jones advises it works well during postgraduate study as a starting point for discussions. Popular areas include behaviour management and the clear layout allows you to search under subject, key stage, roles and more general areas. Don’t forget to register with the trainee teacher “hub” (click on “join a group” once you have registered) – it’s a source of mutual support and advice, and a good sounding-off board. Great career advice, interview hints, links and downloadable resources to complement programmes.
All unions are free to student members and only after qualifying will you have to decide whether and which one to join. Make the most of resources offered freely during your training year. Sites offer advice on finance, legal matters, career management and professional development. Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) student pages www.new2teaching.org.uk Offering advice on recruitment,
essay-writing, colleague relations and tutorials on behaviour management and other areas of becoming a teacher. NASUWT - www.nasuwt.org.uk Offers advice tailored for students on appeals, problems with mentors, finance and many other student issues (see Information and Advice section) NUT student arm www.students.teachers.org.uk The NUT offers a host of resources to enable students to run their own courses on campus on areas such as behaviour management and best practice in the classroom. Look up training on the NUT’s student area of the website for tips on school placements and finding a job. Some courses advising on job hunting and interviews are offered in some parts of England and Wales. “Some head teachers who are members will offer mock interviews,” says a spokeswoman. “The Teacher” magazine is a well-received source of information.
Colleagues and peers
Other teachers are one of the best, most under-used sources of expertise, say most teaching professionals. “Nothing should stop you asking if you can shadow a teacher, just to observe and learn,” says Julian Stanley, chief executive of Teacher Support. “I find teachers the most fantastic source of information,” says PGCE student Kirstie Green. “They point you to great websites and don’t mind you downloading their resources onto a memory stick.” Take photographs of classroom displays, note down techniques and tips to build your own record of resources. Some PGCE courses offer more opportunities for collaboration than others. Students often set up their own structured networks to share information learnt during placements. “It just boosts what you learn,” says one student. TES (Times Educational Supplement) www.tes.co.uk The TES’s lively teacher forum is a mine of information, and a good place to share woes and receive support from experienced colleagues. Look up archived material from a comprehensive subject-led list. Take advantage of lesson resources, tips for students on placement and NQTs from the online pages,
plus the latest magazine features. A stable of trusted experts and academics regularly answer career questions online. It’s also a great source of job information. Teacher Net - www.teachernet.gov.uk A comprehensive government site offering an overview of the profession and some 2,000 free lesson plans. A useful “school in focus” area showcases the practical application of new teaching and learning ideas. The easy-to-search teaching and learning section includes tips, strategy, information on learning psychology and links to thousands of resources. Teacher support - teachersupport.info Whether you are having a crisis of confidence, under stress or having trouble managing money, Teacher Support will help – telephone or email for around-the-clock support and advice. Search from 1,400 fact sheets on a huge range of subjects. “If a trainee is struggling, there are often practical steps he or she can take to resolve things,” says the charity’s group chief executive Julian Stanley. “Often issues can be too confidential to raise with peers. You can ask for follow-up support via email or another phone call too.” Look on the website for the helpful “starting out guide for new teachers”. Trained advisors man the free, confidential support line. Contact 08000 562 561 (England), 0800 564 2270 (Scotland) or 0800 085 5088 (Wales). Teacher Training Resource Bank www.ttrb.ac.uk Search this site for a wealth of information and resources on practice-based teaching. A section is dedicated to teachers studying at master’s level and beyond. Supported by the TDA and run by an academic educational consortium, the site allows access to a range of evidence-based resources, clearly categorised and easily accessible.
Blogs, tweets and social networking
Many teachers use social networking and blogs to swap resources and ideas, especially around new technology. “If I were starting out in teaching now, I’d link up with other teachers and start finding useful blogs,” says Tom Barrett a primary teacher and ICT subject leader at Priestsic Primary School in Nottinghamshire. Social networking groups
can alleviate the angst and confidence crises of teacher training. Barrett advises the following blogs and sites: elearnr.org - a blog about useful ICT resources www.boxoftricks.net - blog about technology from Head of Languages at Nottingham High School edte.ch/blog – Barrett’s own blog teachmeet.pbworks.com/Organise TeachMeet a groundswell CPD event organised by teachers www.ideastoinspire.co.uk - range of presentations of different ideas. Creative Education www.creativeeducation.co.uk Useful collection of free resources on many aspects of teaching from the educational consultants and trainers. New lesson plan search engine allows you to search more than 20 websites for some 40,000 lesson plan ideas. Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) www.teacherlearningacademy.org.uk This site aims to become a huge source of practice-based knowledge shared by teachers. The TLA, led by the General Teaching Council, supports teachers who undertake projects reflecting best practice and accredits their work accordingly. From raising boys’ attainment in literacy to promoting thinking skills to the benefits of team teaching, results of the work of participating teachers will be shared through the website. “Eventually, we’re aiming at up to 40,000 submissions of work,” says Sara Morgan head of professional learning at the General Teaching Council for England. Currently the TLA has been involved in some 7,000 projects which will be available to view online. Resources on the site also include information about how to take part in TLA projects – open to all NQTs. Higher levels of accreditation will contribute towards a Masters qualification. Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) www.tda.gov.uk As well as a huge source of careers information, and advice about Continuing Professional Development for teachers, this government site will offer information about courses and training on a local and national level. Identify your area of need in the search facility to discover downloadable resources, websites and courses.
foundations for teaching careers
BENEFIT OF EXPERIENCE By Jessica Moore
Five years into their careers, teachers share the lessons that they have learnt
t does get easier!â€? says Georgina Jones, who teaches secondary French and Spanish. â€œEvery year, Iâ€™ve found teaching to be more rewarding and less stressfulâ€?. Partly, thatâ€™s down to confidence, Jones explains. â€œYou feel more secure in what youâ€™re doing, and youâ€™re more established within the school, so you feel less like you have something to prove. It gets easier to enjoy your work and get the best out of your students. I remember the feeling during my training placements and as an NQT that I was being judged â€“ by both the kids and the staff. I donâ€™t feel that way any more. I feel that I do a good job, and if anyone wants to see me in action, theyâ€™re welcome to sit in â€“ so long as they donâ€™t disrupt the class! Iâ€™m happy in my work and my students are doing well.â€? Moreover, Jones has built a range of resources over the five years since she qualified, so she no longer spends hours after school developing new materials and writing up lesson plans. â€œThereâ€™s always something new you can do, an improvement you can make, or a new technique or trend in teaching that you can take on board. At this stage of my career, thatâ€™s fun â€“ it keeps things interesting for me. But instead of writing brand new lesson plans, I adapt tried and tested onesâ€?. When students need additional support, too, Jones finds that over her five years in the classroom, she has built enough experience and sufficient materials to enable her to help. â€œI had a student last half term who just wasnâ€™t engaging. He didnâ€™t want to be in my class, but I knew from the PE teacher that he was a mad-keen footballer. I remembered that, a few years earlier, Iâ€™d done a project with a younger yeargroup on the importance of languages in business. Weâ€™d looked at, among other things, the number of Spanish-speaking football players at UK clubs, and weâ€™d done a lot of role-play activities, interviewing them in their first
language and so on. I dug those materials out, adapted them to make it GCSE standard, and tried it in that studentâ€™s class. For the first time, he was interested. And Iâ€™ve had him since then!â€? This is echoed by teacher Sue VanHattum, who blogs: â€˜The more years you teach, the more cool lessons you have under your beltâ€™ (axiomstoteachby. blogspot.com). As for managing classroom behaviour, it
â€œis a skill, but it can be learned,â€? says music teacher Jez Bennett. So what practical advice can experienced teachers offer? Key to a calm and productive classroom is organisation. In the TES, Andy Vass, an education consultant and trainer with 31 years of teaching experience, laid out his tips for successful behaviour management in schools. First, he recommends, have a seating plan and make sure all materials are accessible. That way, your students will
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Thereâ€™s always something new you can do, an improvement you can make, or a new technique or trend in teaching that you can take on board
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know whatâ€™s expected of them and where to go for the things they need. Structure your lessons well too, varying the pace, keeping the teaching lively and exciting. And let your students know that there is a time for chatting and a time for learning: know what theyâ€™re interested in, and talk to them about it outside the classroom. In lesson time, meanwhile, focus on the tasks at hand. Another crucial tool for success is the language you use. Instead of saying â€œIf you donâ€™t, youâ€™ll be in detentionâ€?, say â€œIf you chose to behave that way, there will be consequences. Make a better choiceâ€?. Smile and say thanks when your students do the right thing. And be descriptive in your praise. Tell your students exactly what theyâ€™ve done well, both in your written and your verbal comments. They will enjoy the feedback, and other students will gain a clear idea of what you want from them. Good classroom discipline is achieved by establishing clear structures. If students know what is expected of them, and what they can expect in return, thereâ€™s no room for confusion. Establish your class rules early and stick to them. It can be helpful to write them out with your students and stick them on the wall. With younger children, discuss the rules with them and write them up in their language, to make sure they understand. And finally, listen to your students and let them know you are paying attention. Itâ€™s fine to acknowledge your studentsâ€™ preferences â€“ for example, by saying â€œI know youâ€™d rather be working on your project, but I need you to concentrate on this work nowâ€?. Better that than simply ploughing on, turning a blind eye to your studentsâ€™ restlessness. â€œYou find that these skills gradually improveâ€?, says Bennett. â€œYou try different techniques â€“ some work and some don't â€“ and, gradually, you begin to understand which ones work for you.â€? But â€œitâ€™s important not just to copy other peopleâ€?, he warns. Instead, â€œbe reflective about what you do.â€?
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File name: 800190-200x140 teaching flyer TC 04-05.indd 5
foundations for teaching careers
A heavy workload By Jessica Moore
You have to realise that there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you would like to do. You have to prioritise and you have to learn to draw a line somewhere
t some time during our school careers, most of us benefited from an inspiring teacher: the kind that made us want to work, succeed, and make them proud. For some, those individuals provided a nudge towards the teaching profession. Seeing others inspire and motivate students can nurture a desire to work in the classroom. But maintaining enthusiasm throughout your teacher training and as an NQT can be difficult. “I am finding it hard work”, admits Nicolette Prescott, 31, an NQT who teaches Year 2 at an East Sussex primary. “Last week, I worked until 10 o’clock every evening – and that’s after teaching a class all day. There’s a lot of paperwork, on top of the marking and planning”. And for those considering a career in teaching, newspaper headlines can be far from encouraging. ‘The government is wasting millions of pounds training teachers who do not go on to work in state schools’, The Guardian recently announced, citing a study published by the University of Buckingham on 14 August 2009. This study looked at teacher training and retention in England. It revealed that nearly 40 per cent of university-trained teachers drop out of the state system within six months, based on those who qualified from university in 2008. But Mike Watkins, the director of initial teacher training recruitment at the Training and Development Agency for Schools, claims that these findings are inconclusive: “The figures of so-called ‘drop out’ are based on the employment snapshot at six months and are totally misleading. Newly qualified teachers continue to take up employment after six months,” he said. Moreover, university-trained teachers only account for a percentage of all NQTs. About a fifth of teacher trainees receive their training in schools, rather than led by a university, and 80 per cent of those trainees go on to teach in schools. That’s a much more positive picture. Still, it’s worth considering why some newly-qualified teachers do decide to leave the profession so early in their career. Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “There are many valid reasons. Difficult pupil behaviour, government micro-management and bureaucracy, numerous curriculum changes, and exam league tables all put huge pressures on new teachers.”
Teacher Training is an intense experience – and the feeling of being snowed under for NQTs can feel just as overwhelming
“I do feel under a lot of pressure,” admits Prescott. “That’s partly because, at my school, Year 2s take Sats. Some of my children fell behind last year, so I need to make sure they hit their targets this year.” But support is available. “NQTs must, if they possibly can, tap into their local advisory service”, says Ralph Manning, lecturer in primary education at the University of East Anglia (UEA). “There are numeracy and literacy consultants, and a number of good advisers who can offer a lot of support. These services often also run good websites with a range of resources”. Your local Children’s Services can provide contact information. Also “every NQT has a mentor,” says Prescott.
“You should have regular meetings with them, where you set personal targets. You can also turn to the head or the deputy – but you do have to be quite assertive and ask for help when you need it, because everyone is so busy in schools. Be responsible for your own progression and ask people for support.” Overall, though, it is generally accepted by trainee teachers and teacher trainers alike that the first years in the classroom will be tough. “We were told when I trained that every year we spent in the classroom would get a little bit easier”, says Prescott. “That’s especially true if you stay teaching the same yeargroup, because you can adapt and reuse your plans and resources”. But just how
tough your first year is depends very much on your school, she adds. “Some schools give NQTs lesson plans from previous years to use as a starting point, and have all sorts of support structures in place: others leave you to your own devices.” So how can new teachers make life easier for themselves? “My advice would be to choose your school very wisely”, says Prescott. “You only have a small amount of time when you go for interview to look round a school, so try to do a bit of research on your own. Ofsted reports can help, but your impression of the head and management team is really important, because they affect everything in a school. If you train in the area you then work in, it’s possible that you know people who can advise you about the school. Teaching can be a small world.” Prescott also says you need to be kind to – and strict with – yourself. “You have to realise that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you would like to do. You have to prioritise, and you have to learn to draw a line somewhere.” The good news is: the future is brighter. Teachers usually report that their job gets easier every year. And, as they gain confidence, skills, resources, and behaviour management techniques, they can become the sort of motivating teacher that inspired them to go into the classroom in the first place. “Teacher training is a colossal amount of work”, says Manning. “You need to learn the processes of what it will take to become a good teacher; you have to think about the implications of everything you say and how the children you teach might respond to it. But it’s like driving: when you first learn, you think about every aspect of it mechanically, and there’s a whole load of things to concentrate on putting together at the same time; as you gain experience, though, you just do it. Teaching is never an easy job – you’re always in learning mode –but with a certain amount of experience under your belt, you are more confident.” “I’ve only been an NQT for a half-term, and already I know the kids better, and I’ve set up routines of how I want things to be done”, concludes Prescott. “Also, I can’t complain that much, because my husband’s just decided to follow me into the teaching profession. He sees the hours I put in and the steep learning curve, but also how much I love teaching the kids. This is a job where you never clock-watch – at the end of every school day, I wonder where the time has gone. And maybe that’s worth a few difficult years at the start”.
Survival skills for trainees By Helena Pozniak
drifted into teaching after becoming dissatisfied with my previous career, but it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. But at the moment I hate going into work. I want my Sundays and evenings back. I want to stop feeling guilty because there are too many different things to do to finish any of them properly,” says one teacher in the middle of his induction year. “It really is challenging,” agrees another. “Stress, disrespect, ridiculous hours and huge assessment pressures.” Teaching has never been a soft option, but it’s only after embarking upon a PGCE that many trainees discover it’s not for them. Some 15 percent of trainees drop out of their PGCE courses before they’ve finished, latest research shows. And four out of 10 trainees fail to enter a classroom after finishing their course, according to a report by the University of Buckingham. Six months after qualifying, only 63 percent of PGCE graduates were teaching in state schools. A further 16 percent quit within their first three years. “I found there was a lot of prejudice against PGCE students,” says one teacher, who entered the profession at 35. She’s now in her third year. “I had a few comments in the staffroom assuming I’d quit after a while. It was demoralising at first, but I’ll be a teacher until I retire.” But are some PGCE students jumping ship too soon? Commitment required by the course – and during the first year of
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teaching – is substantial, and often a shock to recent graduates. Deciding whether you would be better off persevering or quitting isn’t obvious - there’s much at stake in terms of time and opportunity “Students might not be prepared for the brutal reality of school,” says Cathie Holden, head of initial teacher education at the University of Exeter's Graduate School of Education. “It can be very demanding. We don’t look at anybody for our secondary PGCE who hasn’t at least observed in schools to get an idea of what it’s like.” Exeter, one of the leading PGCE providers, says few do drop out, but it can be a brave decision. “They must have done a lot of soul searching along the way,” says Jocelyn Sumner, partnership director at Exeter. “And even if they don’t complete the course, they’ll still have gained a lot in terms of transferable skills.” Some students struggle with the skills tests in literacy, numeracy and ICT that students must pass to reach Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). “That can be a very stressful point,” says Holden. “If you’ve failed maths four times it can bring you very low. We do offer support – and urge people to ask for help, especially because they are so busy.” Placements are another sticking point. “No matter how much you do beforehand, nothing can prepare you for it,” says Holden. Often trainees assume they have no aptitude for teaching, she says, but in fact, a lesson that goes badly usually does so because it’s under-planned, or simply
because a student is inexperienced. As a benchmark, teachers advise spending an hour planning for an hour’s lesson, but you may have to put in more time initially, say university tutors. Trainees also lose heart when they realise their commitment to their subject outweighs the satisfaction of teaching it to students. “They discover that teaching their passion to year 10s is a different ball game,” says Holden. Because a PGCE is an evidence-based course, universities have warning systems to highlight when a trainee is failing to meet standards. If a student falters, tutors have been known to advise them to drop out rather than have a “fail” on their record. However, if a student doesn’t meet standards on a placement in some areas, he or she should be able to redo all or part of it at another school in the next academic year but may have to pay a re-sit fee. “As a trainee, you are pond life in a school,” says teacher Francis Gilbert, and author of I’m A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here. “How people treat you doesn’t reflect the reality of the kind of teacher you will become. It’s so easy to get demoralised. You must be thick-skinned.” He stuck out his PGCE despite being advised he would fail, and has been teaching for 20 years. So shout early, advise course tutors, if you fear you are losing heart, either with the placement or course work and you should have access to a huge amount of support from your course tutors. Careers advisors recommend at least sticking a term. “If you’re having doubts shortly after starting, we say at least stay with it until Christmas
before making a decision,” says Magdelen Attwater, career advisor at the Careers Group for the University of London. “Quite often people have a crisis of confidence because of the intensity of juggling so many things, not because they don’t enjoy the teaching. In this case, ask for support.” If a trainee is seven or eight months into the course, see it through. “Always worth it,” says Gilbert. “What else are you going to do straight away?” “We say complete if you can, but not at all costs,” says Holden. “If you are completely miserable and never want to work with children again, I’d recommend the careers advisory service. But a PGCE can lead to many other routes,” she says. It will give you the edge in education-related jobs – roles in museums, environmental centres and other providers of educational services for children and student services. “I took a job as an employment welfare officer,” (EWO) says one PGCE graduate who qualified but didn’t get a teaching post. “There are many more opportunities in schools and education than teaching. Be creative and look for a niche that builds on your classroom experience. You are clearly intelligent and employable.” A PGCE shows you have skills – working as a team, communicating and engaging with people, managing resources and time management. These are transferable and well-regarded in the commercial world, says Attwater, but you must be able to explain your change in direction. “You need to have a convincing story, backed up by evidence on your CV for whatever path you choose,” she says.
foundations for teaching careers
close inspection By Sarah Jewell
n September Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) issued new guidelines for inspecting maintained schools in England and the revised framework was launched by the chief inspector, Christine Gilbert, at a series of conferences for schools and local authorities. Ofsted says it is changing the focus and frequency of school inspections to ensure that inspection has the greatest impact possible on school improvement and outcomes for children and young people. Under the revised arrangements inspectors will give particular priority to promoting school improvement and they make specific recommendations based on their diagnosis of a school’s strengths and weaknesses. They will also be evaluating the achievement and wider well-being of pupils as a whole and of different groups of pupils, and assessing the extent to which schools ensure that all pupils, including those most at risk, succeed. The evaluation of learning and teaching is also a key priority and inspectors will spend a high proportion of their on-site inspection time in the classroom assessing how well schools promote equality of opportunity, and how effectively they tackle discrimination. They will also be checking schools’ procedures for safeguarding and keeping children and young people from harm. Emphasis is also placed on fostering the engagement of headteachers, schools’ staff and governors in the process of inspection so that they understand the judgements made, and also gathering, analysing and taking into account the views of parents and pupils. Partnerships with other providers that help promote better outcomes for pupils will also be monitored. There are seven judgements based on pupils’ outcomes and these are: l pupils’ achievement and enjoyment
The Ofsted inspection can strike fear into the heart of many an NQT. The best advice for success is to be well prepared l the extent to which pupils feel safe l pupils’ behaviour l the extent to which they adopt healthy lifestyles l their contribution to school and the wider community l their economic well-being taking attendance into account l pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development An Ofsted inspection is an anxious time for every teacher and for newly qualified teachers it can be especially daunting. The best advice is to be well prepared and to make sure you attend all the pre-Ofsted briefings from the senior management team, and try not to worry too much. As one teacher says on the TES chat forum: “depending on your situation (eg primary, secondary, size of school) it may not be as bad as you think. The teachers in my last primary school found the whole process fairly straightforward. Be very prepared in lessons, share success criteria and objectives, use assessment for learning strategies and ensure that all children understand the lesson.” It’s also a good idea to be aware of the basic terminology that the inspectors use: l Attainment: the standard of the pupils’ work shown by test and examination results and in lessons. l Progress: the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and over longer periods. It is measured by comparing pupils’ attainment at the end of a key stage with their attainment when they started. l Achievement; the progress and success of a pupil in their learning, training or development. This may refer to the
acquisition of skills, knowledge, and understanding of desired attributes. Attributes include qualities or personal competences, which are important to the development of the pupils; for example personal, social, cultural, emotional or health. l Capacity to improve: the proven ability of the school to continue improving. Inspectors base this judgment on what the school has accomplished so far and on the quality of its systems to maintain improvement. l Leadership and management: the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities not just the headteacher, to identify priorities, directing and motivating staff and running the school. So when when do inspections take place? Since September Ofsted is varying the frequency of its inspections according to the findings of previous visits. Schools that were satisfactory at their last inspection will be inspected within three school years of that inspection, but they may receive a monitoring visit between inspections to check on progress. Schools judged inadequate at their last inspection will continue to receive monitoring visits, followed by a full or partial re-inspection approximately 12–15 months after the previous inspection. Good or outstanding schools are inspected once within five school years from the end of the school year in which that inspection took place unless there are concerns about their performance, safeguarding or welfare arrangements. Good or outstanding schools not inspected three years after their last inspection will receive an assessment of their performance, called
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an interim assessment report. This assessment will draw on test and examination results and information about, for example, pupils' attendance. It will explain to the school and to parents why the school will not be inspected in that academic year. And in terms of notice schools receive between zero and two working days’ notice of a section 5 inspection, with most receiving between one and two days notice. Inspectors may arrange for any school to be inspected without notice where there are particular reasons, such as those connected to pupils’ welfare, or where there are concerns about safeguarding or rapid decline in performance.
Checklist for teachers:
What are your school’s aims? Do you contribute to your department’s policy and planning? Give examples. Are you clear about your role within the department? Are you aware of your school’s behaviour and discipline policy Do you implement it? Are you familiar with the school’s child protection policy? And the race equality policy? And the SEN policy? What is your school policy about attendance and punctuality of pupils? Do your lesson plans identify: l What the pupils will learn (learning objectives) l Links with other areas of the syllabus/ curriculum l Resources available l Teaching strategies, differentiated for the average, SEN and G&T pupils l Assessment strategies l Homework How do you calculate ‘Value Added’ for your classes? How effectively do you use ICT? Do wall displays show vocabulary and information on current topics? Are all tables and chairs arranged for ease of movement around the classroom (primary)?
Be very prepared in lessons, share success criteria and objectives, use assessment for learning strategies and ensure that all children understand the lesson
Apply Immediately www.buckscc.gov.uk/work4us Telephone: 01296 382765 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Positively welcoming applications from all parts of the community
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edu t lea r month hav days st becaus e sparkedcation. s aft into pri er the bige they we controver re Camb mary edu gest indepe announcesy – recom ridge Univecation in ndent inq d just uir learni mended del rsity Pri 40 years, the y mary ng un ayi ng the Revie til a Th Engla e Cambrid child turns start of w, for nd ge six , ma Re . wh start l view ere sch intern ool at fivchildren curargues tha childr ational pra e, is out rently havt Delay en enter fulctice – int of step wit e to Camb ing the sta l-time eduernational h presch ridge Reviert of for ma cation at ly, most childr ool, play-b w says, wo l schoolinsix. for ma en a better ased cur uld extendg, the ric l gro widesp lessons. undin ulum to the ser ved read con It found a g before thegive claim by startinviction” tha“strong and y start risks ing it “dentsg for mal t children One long-term children’learning at are ill loc the com al autho damage to s confidencfour, testin binatio rity in the their learni e and n stand g, and pre of an ear UK claim ng”. ssure ed ly mentaards was cre to rea start age that the La l health pro ating a gench gover , same select bour cha blems. Ba eration nment irm the chotime – so similar committe an of therry Sheer with time ice when it is impo being ly argued e that cov Comm man, rta cla provis sses, or to start ful nt familie too ear“hot-housethat Britishers educat ons have ion if ion ly. d” int chi free l-time or s have the So Ho o for ldren are, has (ATL), feel thawhat’s the y want it,” early years’ partmal sch eviden wever, Ba startin a Kent-bas oolin and giv t “allow problem? he said. start ce the soolls claims g ing have g children ed teache go that “th years ing familie ” childr Some par they clo od-qualit ner summe ere the claa negative at schoo r warns gap beteducation s “more en to learn ents l young that plans se the gapy pre-scho r-born chiis clear impac childr ssroom env t on er ma practic ween the brings pre choice” oveearlier, schoo to offer eve on their oling, the ldren often en, especi ironmentteachers, y Cla worki al one”, ideal sce ssure. “Ther r early Januar l or nurse ry family peers”. So,sooner Cornwire Jag ger admits nario They lack the maally those . “Summ and on e’s a prefer ng mothe and Em If the y or April ry from the a free pla he Lapla all, said: , a primary r ma An the schoo would be turity to born in Au er-born ce at until the idea of two. “W der learn y opt for after their September the wand and Ru “I have tau teacher in of parent l for longerbetter off cope with gust, the ear a nurse chi to wo my kids are delaying hile I muson, a If a fam ly yea schoo y in whichssia and havght in Fin ry pla ld tur , schoo al pressure – but thestaying at school. there’s rk, and chi six, the facfor mal les ch schoo ily choose rs play-b ce, the ns four. l so the ready, l ready to their sev e seen firsland, for the re is als preldcare sons a free tea chi t l, ase is my it che ld y s tha o d will me to sta can chi readin is exp will ful dau curric matur socially abllearn. Theyen-year-olds thand educat r coins the go to wo ldren to a lot of ens t I need probab ghter wh l-time pla schem g and writinan more rt their chi ulum. ors: “I result in sch e enough e, physical are emoti start rk.” Th start en she ce at schive. If ly tak and ld for e tur ing g. wil oo at oft ma not is childr Ba n it do e it. We tur oo en pro experi l, bring to deal wit ly conten onally en int l be optional lls insists l lessons wn – althier ns four, I’ll l for Th a teache feel like a blem for ing go h ence t, they are An in o for tha bu and od sol the curric and and childcent ofe ATL sur r.” Fu basis other argum t I think parents mi ulum mind under not rea mal prima will no t the vey als ill con rther evidena thirst for id life tea with er t o fou opini of Balls’ pro ent takes most wo ght pri chers to kee the schemdy. Further, ry educat force A rep ceived com ce that Balearning.” n’t on statut mary and and suppo nd that ion if p the Augus over wh posal: the issue wit .” five. “W 30 per ir chi e, parents he stress Unive ort by res es from lls’ plans childr ory educat junior chi rt staff wo Is it bect are at gre y children re is a divh the is going e know ld at home could stil es that, en are ion sho ldren aroun rsity, Belfaearchers at Northern may be rking bo ate ide ove aus l tha rn cho r at you un thi in uld ra to be e risk t lea the schd the time st, publisheQueen’s Ireland. ready not every til they tur ose bel nger tha the childr of fallinin July and should third (37 st six yea not start nk n the ool sta Balls pro d in Oc en are for rec four-y n ieves, per cen rs old until g beh be chi ir thr ldr ove rt ear bec pee up ind eption , and tob schoo ee t) r . to a aus rs? damageen in Northage in the posed low er – at the -old admit in four tea five. 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As the UK’s leading education union, ATL invests heavily in the areas that matter most to our members. From training and CPD opportunities that can lead to a foundation or masters degree, to advice and representation on a range of professional and employment issues, ATL meets your needs throughout your carreer.
Greenwich Children’s Service is looking to recruit exceptional teachers who can inspire learning and encourage our pupils from a diverse range of backgrounds to reach their maximum potential. Greenwich is a fantastic place in which to begin your career. What do we offer Newly Qualified Teachers? s"DFOUSBMJTFEJOEVDUJPO programme covering a wide range of topics to support Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) s4VQQPSUGSPNPVSQSJNBSZBOE secondary teams of advisors s"SFTJEFOUJBM/25DPOGFSFODF s1SFQBSBUJPOGPSZPVSOEBOE 3rd years of your career and beyond s*OOFS-POEPOQBZTDBMF s"OENVDINPSFx We run a recruitment programme for both primary and secondary NQTs because our schools value the enthusiasm, vitality and fresh ideas that NQTs bring. Each academic year, Greenwich schools recruit around 100 primary and 100 secondary NQTs. To be one of them please apply online at: http://nqt.greenwich.gov.uk CFGPSFTU.BZ
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Stemming the flow By Sarah Jewell
cience has become a Cinderella subject and the take-up of science subjects is at an all-time low. The numbers of students taking A-level physics has dropped by 57 per cent in the past 20 years, the number of students obtaining a first degree in physical sciences fell by 25 per cent between 2005–6, while those studying engineering and technology dropped by 27 per cent. To combat this the Government is taking steps to encourage more pupils to study scientific disciplines through its triple science programme. Research shows that young people are more likely to study science at A-level if they have studied all three sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – as full GCSEs. The Government therefore aims to give all students access to single-subject science teaching by 2014 and its target is for 17 per cent of all state school pupils to be taking triple science by that time. Meanwhile, the Treasury’s 10-year Science and Innovation Framework 2004–2014 aims to “improve, enrich and raise attainment in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, for the creation of a STEM-literate workforce”. This includes improved career advice and more science and engineering school clubs. The STEM ambassadors programme aims to switch on the minds of young people to the potential of STEM subjects and careers. STEM ambassadors are working people and professionals who volunteer their time for free to act as inspiring role models to young people and try to make a real difference to the delivery of STEM subjects to young people. The programmes aims to recruit over 27,000
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Take up of science subjects is at an all-time low. What is being done to combat this fall? STEM ambassadors nationwide by 2011 and current ambassadors include zoologists, farmers, physicists and ice-core chemistry technicians. Lord Professor Robert Winston, is a supporter of the ambassadors programme and he says: “Science and technology are increasingly vital in the world today and the study of these subjects benefits all of us whether we realise it or not. Scientists like me have a very important role to play in inspiring the next generation to see these areas as exciting – both through sharing experiences and offering young people the chance to get involved in practical work in a real-life scientific environment." Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, agrees that schools need to build links with real scientists. He’s been impressed with work going on at Imperial College in London where third year undergraduates have been sent out to work in schools as part of their course. “It’s young scientists that will excite our youngsters most so let’s get more of them into the classroom,” he says. Steps are also being taken to tackle the long-term shortage of science teachers. Science, maths and technology have been shortage subjects for years and, as such, attract golden hellos and training bursaries. A recent new report published by the National Science Learning Centre shows that student engagement and attainment in science could be improved dramatically with more high-quality professional development for teachers.
The National Science Learning Centre is spearheading a drive to improve the quality of science teaching in the UK. It leads a network of 10 regional Science Learning Centres and provides world-class Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers. Professor John Holman, Director of the National Science Learning Centre, says: “the report represents hard evidence that a teacher’s interest and passion for their subject translates directly into increased student motivation and attainment. We know what the formula is and what a dramatic effect more CPD for science teachers would have.” To support the take-up of science CPD the project ENTHUSE, a £30m partnership between Government, industry and the Wellcome Trust, has so far provided 1,396 science teachers with generous bursaries to attend in-depth, residential CPD courses at the National Science Learning Centre’s state-of-the-art facilities in York. John Sellars, is a physics teacher at St Marylebone CE School, London, and he says: “The course made it clear that to make the most of teaching science you can’t just stand at the front of the class and talk. You have to engage pupils with scientific topics and encourage them to put across their point of view and talk about things they’re interested in, such as discoveries they’ve seen on television or read about online. He thinks that the training he received at the National Science Learning Centre was invaluable. “It really improved my confidence and helped me understand why this programme of study is so important
and how I should introduce it in the classroom.” The Training and Development Agency (TDA) has also introduced other incentives to encourage the teaching of science. For example, secondary teachers without A-levels in maths or science can take part in an additional specialism programme to enable them to teach either subject more effectively. The course takes 40 days and runs across a single academic year. Teachers who complete it successfully receive a £5,000 incentive award. With developments such as embryonic stem cell research and gene therapy frequently in the news, debating ethical issues can be difficult territory for teachers. Two websites have been developed by the University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education to help teachers deal with debating science-based ethical and moral issues. Beep, created with funding from the Wellcome Trust, focuses on issues for biology teachers including GM crops and cloning and reproductive technology. Peep, supported by the Institute of Physics, covers topics from climate change and energy to the morality of weapons development and deployment. Both sites support teaching topics that involve uncertainty and debate. A key feature is the facility for students to debate issues online. TDA specialism programme for science: www.tda. gov.uk/teachers/continuingprofessionaldevelopment/ science_cpd.aspx Institute of Physics, Stimulating Physics programme: stimulatingphysics.org Science Oxford: scienceoxford.com www.stemnet.org.uk/ambassadors.cfm
It’s young scientists that will excite our youngsters most so let’s get more of them into the classroom
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COMING OUT OF THE SHADOWS What would a Conservative victory mean for UK teacher’s? How will Michael Gove’s plans for education be received in the classroom? By Jessica Moore
n 5 November, Michael Gove, the Conservative shadow schools secretary, spelled out his party’s education policies for the first time. In a speech at the rightwing Centre for Policy Studies thinktank, Gove made a number of promises. Some were controversial. Some were well received. Let’s look at Gove’s Brave New School World. First, Gove promises that the Tories, if successful in the next general election, will narrow the achievement gap between the poorest and the wealthiest children. Indeed, he pledges to make schools “the engines of social mobility”. “A Conservative government will give every child the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off: safe classrooms, talented and specialist teachers, access to the best curriculum and exams, and smaller schools where teachers know the children’s names,” Gove said. On to proposal two. Gove pledges to make exams and the curriculum “more rigorous”. He will “dismantle the power of a centralised bureaucracy, radically reform qualifications and slim down the curriculum”. As an example of what he sees as a failing in the current system, Gove says that pupils currently taking GCSEs in modern languages do not have to sit translation exams, and that there is no compulsory literature element in some A-level language syllabuses. Proposal three is directed at trainee teachers: the Tories will refuse to fund teacher training for graduates who do not have at least a 2:2 degree. Primary school teachers will come from the top one-third of graduates, rather than the current top two-thirds, and would-be teachers would only be allowed to resit literacy and numeracy tests to gain entry to teacher training courses once. Next on the agenda are academies. Gove says all schools – including primaries – will be encouraged to become academies, or “quasi-independent state schools”. These will “act as a goad and a spur to improvement in neighbouring schools,” he said. “We will break up the bureaucratic monopoly on school provision, which denies parents choice and introduce competition specifically to help drive up standards.” Gove’s final major proposal is to tighten up inspection. Under a Conservative government, Ofsted will be allowed to make inspections of schools where there were serious behaviour problems without giving notice. So what does this all mean for teachers? In July, Gove gave a similar speech at the Royal Society for the encouragement of
Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). In his blog, matthewtaylorsblog.com/thersa, Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, consequently commented “I am fascinated by the gap between the rhetorical attractiveness of the Gove agenda and its less convincing basis in concrete policy”. The residing schools minister, Vernon Coaker, goes further. He says “the rhetoric of Michael Gove’s speech does not match the reality of the Conservative party’s policies, which would take us back to a two-tier education system.” He also claims the attainment gap between the poorest and the wealthiest children is already narrowing under Labour: “While the Tories try to do down the state education system, the truth is that schools in the poorest areas have seen the biggest rises in results over the last decade. All this progress would be set back by Tory plans to cut spending on schools”. Alex Moore, emeritus professor in the faculty of culture and pedagogy at the Institute of Education (IoE), says: “I think the real danger of policies like Gove’s is they imply that teachers and schools alone are to blame for underachievement. That takes away from politicians responsibilities to address the situation beyond the classroom. I don’t think it’s possible to address the achievement gap without narrowing the poverty gap. That means more money is put into giving poorer families the quality of support outside school that a lot of middle class families get. Not everyone has the same facilities at home; not everyone has the same faith that the system is actually going to work for them.”
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More immediately, however, Gove’s proposals have directly antagonised many teachers. “The implication of his proposals to provide ‘safe classrooms’ and ‘talented’ teachers for children of all family incomes is that state schools are currently unsafe and employ substandard teachers”, says Justine Callow, who teaches English at a state comprehensive. “This is not only inaccurate, it is actually very offensive to those of us who work night and day to give young people the best possible education and school experience. It’s simply scaremongering”. Callow also scoffs at the charge that some teachers don’t know the names of the children they teach. “There isn’t a single teacher in my department who doesn’t know every student they work with,” she says. Moore agrees. “I’d be very surprised if any teachers don’t know their kids’ names”, he says. As for Gove’s belief in the need for more stringent testing in schools, forget it, says the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Mind you, the ATL believes that Labour and Conservative are as bad as each other in this respect. In response to a report by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) Select Committee, the ATL’s general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said in November: “The government must consider the impact of over-testing on the education of Britain’s children, and the view of ATL that high stakes national testing at all key stages should now be withdrawn. What matters most is children’s progress.” “We are a nation obsessed with testing”,
agrees Callow. “It does no one any good. The children are under too much pressure and stress, and teachers spend more time marking and ‘teaching to the test’ than they do educating. Neither Labour nor the Tories are listening to teachers, who have been saying for years that we need fewer tests, not more”. And what of Gove’s teacher training proposals? “I think they’re highly problematic”, says Moore, who spent 10 years in initial teacher education before focusing on curriculum studies. “I can’t speak on behalf of the IoE – but, in my experience, some of my best teachers ever had a Third Class or Lower Second honours degrees. That’s because the knowledge you need to get a top university degree is not necessarily the knowledge you need to succeed in the classroom. Teachers have to be able to get on with kids, to communicate knowledge, to be organized, to enthuse people. So I was always happy to take people not just on the basis of what they got in their degree, but on the skills they were able to communicate at interview. To say that children are not doing well because teachers don’t have a top degree is very simplistic. Teaching is not just a matter of transmitting subject knowledge; learning is a very active meaning-making process.” Moore feels that Gove’s ideas about teacher training are a “complete misunderstanding of what it takes to be a good teacher. We could be cutting out a lot of potentially excellent teachers if we follow these policies.” Moore adds that in his experience only a very small number of teachers with less than a 2.2 apply for teacher training schemes anyway. “If that’s so, the policy is implying a situation that barely exists, and then saying that it will improve matters by remedying it. It is creating a myth in which education is plagued by large numbers of ‘poorly qualified’ teachers, and in which it is this that is maintaining the ‘achievement gap’ between rich and poor children. It’s also implying that the judgments of highly experienced HEIs in recruiting and selecting trainee teachers is suspect. It’s a world where rhetoric is more important than evidence.’ Overall, Gove has done little to befriend the teaching community this year. At the Conservative conference, he enraged many teachers by accusing the educational establishment of defeatism, political correctness, and a culture of “dumbing down”. “It’s a kick in the teeth, isn’t it?” says Callow. “Gove’s plans seem to focus on criticising teachers and a return to chalkand-talk teaching methods. The Tories talk of narrowing the wealth divide and raising standards, but their policies don’t stand up to scrutiny. Then again, neither to Labour’s. It’s time both political parties started listening to teachers and educators”.
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STEM M COM ING THE The G B F IN NU ATING TH LOW: o E FAL and A vernme MBER nt sa L S ugust C IE NCE ST S OF boost ys that By Je U ssica st D the st a ENTS Moo re art o rting scho n 19 f the ol at Oc secret tober, the ir th sc e hool new plaary Ed Ba schools provis ns for prills set out caree age of fo chang ion in the mary ur rs. Th will be e? Fro UK. The e polic will help nurse offered 2011, every m Septem a start ry, bringing free place four-year ber ch y is a full-ti old the age at sch This oo lread ildren bo at fol me edu gover lows rec cation for which chil or nm om y cau rn in ldr wa en inspec ent adv mendatio rd by Ju sing startin tor, Sir Jimisor and for ns by thea year. g Rose. mer Of contr ly penalty school Ro overs face thr those boat four wil se believ sted es l rn cou ough that y out the in the sum nteract Th the ir me no e plans
edu t lea r month hav days st becaus e sparkedcation. s aft into pri er the bige they we controver re Camb mary edu gest indepe announcesy – recom ridge Univecation in ndent inq d just uir learni mended del rsity Pri 40 years, the y ma ng ayi The Cauntil a chi ng the stary Review, rt of Engla mbrid ld turns for ma start nd, where ge Review six. l sch intern ool at fivchildren curargues tha childr ational pra e, is out rently havt Delay en enter fulctice – int of step wit e to Camb ing the sta l-time eduernational h presch ridge Reviert of for ma cation at ly, most childr ool, play-b w says, wo l schoolinsix. for ma en a better ased cur uld extendg, the ric widespl lessons. groundin ulum to the ser ved read con It found a g before thegive claim by startinviction” tha“strong and y start risks ing it “dentsg for mal t children One long-term children’learning at are ill loc the com al autho damage to s confidencfour, rity the bin ir learni e and in testin ation the stand g, and pre of an ear UK claim ng”. ssure ed ly mentaards was cre to rea start age that the La l health pro ating a gench gover , same select bour cha blems. Ba eration nment irm the chotime – so similar committe an of therry Sheer with e ly tha time ice when it is impo argued being t cov Comm man, rta cla provis sses, or to start ful nt familie too ear“hot-housethat Britishers educat ons have ion if ion ly. d” int chi free l-time or s have the So Ho o for ldren are, has (ATL), feel thawhat’s the y want it,” early years’ partmal sch eviden wever, Ba startin a Kent-bas oo lls ce and giv t “allow problem? he said. ling the soo claims start ing have g children ed teache go that “th years ing familie ” childr Some par they clo od-qualit ner summe ere the claa negative at schoo r warns gap beteducation s “more en to learn ents l young that plans se the gapy pre-scho r-born chiis clear impac childr ssroom env t on er ma practic ween the brings pre choice” oveearlier, schoo to offer eve on their oling, the ldren ssu al ide oft en, especi ironm teachers, y Cla r ear one”, re. al worki Januar l or nurse ry family peers”. 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ORD ER Y OUR NEX T FR EE ED ITIO N OF
TEAC HING CAR EERS AT
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foundations for teaching careers
showcasing talent Edward Vickerman, 26 Winner of the SSAT Most Outstanding New Teacher of the Year 2009
The Teaching Awards were created to give recognition to the vital role teachers play. Sarah Jewell talks to two winners of the new teacher of the year category
“I was delighted to win the award and I was amazed, all the more so because I am dyslexic and was told that I could never be a teacher”. Edward Vickerman initially studied for a degree in hotel business management at Leeds Met University and was all set to start a full-time job with the hotel company Ramada Jarvis when he realised that what he really wanted to do was to follow his passion and go into teaching. “It was hard to find a training provider who would take me on because of my dyslexia but eventually Bradford College agreed and I did my PGCE there – I owe a lot to them.” He was nominated for the award of Outstanding New Teacher of the Year by another teacher at the school and says the judging process “very rigorous”. The judges came to the school and watched his lessons and interviewed parents, governors and pupils, and liked Vickerman’s creative style of teaching: “I try to include everyone in a way that didn’t happen to me”, says Vickerman “and I get the students to do role playing, to use videos, give presentations and I try to work to the students’ strength to make sure everything is interactive.” He asks business people to come and talk to the pupils and he helped take a group of 45 students to New York: “It was an unusual thing to do – to take a group of 16-year-olds to New York but it was all about expanding horizons – we went to visit the Federal Reserve Bank, to Abercrombie and Fitch, Macy’s and it was amazing.” Many of the students were getting their passports for the first time and many, he says, had never flown before: “some of these students might never get the opportunity to do this again”. Vickerman also helped introduce the BTec diplomas to the school with very impressive results: “94 per cent of students who took business studies got A* to C grade this year.” He thinks the key to being a successful teacher is building good relationships – “I’m very honest about my dyslexia and I try to be confident about what I’m doing”. He thinks it’s important to build up relationships through out-of-school activities - “help run an after-school club”, he says, “start building up a good rapport and that filters through to the classroom and to parents”. Parents are key, he says, and “parents’ evening is one of the most crucial events of whole year
– if a parents is disillusioned with you, you’ve lost that child.” His advice to anyone who is starting out in teaching is to seek out the “amazing teachers” in your school and to go and watch their lessons – “see how they perform and find out what it is that the kids
really respect”. And make sure, he says, that this is what you want to do - “if you are not passionate about teaching there’s little point in doing it.” And what makes it all worthwhile for him? “When a child walks out of a class and they have achieved more than they thought
they could – when they walk in with a target grade and they exceed that – that’s what makes it all worthwhile.” Edward Vickerman is Director of Business and Enterprise at Freeston Business and Enterprise College, Normanton, West Yorkshire
‘I wanted to see results - it’s my job’ Natalie Richards, 29
Outstanding new teacher of the year 2008 In 2008 Natalie Richards was named outstanding new teacher of the year for her work as a drama teacher at Bishop Gore school in Swansea, a comprehensive with 1,300 pupils aged 11-19. She was thrilled and delighted to win the award, after being nominated by her pupils. “When I first started at Bishop Gore I had a really difficult class - they were very argumentative, but very creative and their energy needed to be put to good use.” She had students who were underachieving and who didn’t like drama but Richards ran weekend workshops and extra classes for them. “I wanted to see results – it’s my job and I knew my pupils wouldn’t get their grades if they didn’t turn up and do their coursework, I had to put myself out for them and we had a brilliant relationship we saw each other through”. Not all her students stayed with drama, she says, “but they used what they’ve learnt”. Through drama, she says, students can learn to respect each other: “It’s about commitment, learning about the world and learning to work with each other – they have to put themselves out and if they don’t turn up to rehearsals they are affecting other people.” She has put on performances of Arabian Knights, the Crucible, Joseph, Cider with Rosie and has just done A Midsummer Nights Dream. One of the Teaching Awards judges sat in on a
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lesson on Blood Brothers and the pupils were recreating the story through using sounds. “They were making a ‘soundscape’ - a montage of sound to create tension and they were absolutely brilliant,” says Richards. “The judge said my lesson had given her goosebumps, which was fantastic.” Richards’ parents were teachers and she grew up in a teaching environment but says she didn’t do particularly well at school: “I had to work really hard but one teacher I had at school made me feel it was worth it – I look back now and I see what I could have done with more encouragement.” She emphathises with her pupils who are struggling with writing, “that was me and I try so hard now to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity”. She entered teaching, she says to make a difference, “I wouldn’t have gone into it if I didn’t think it was a worthy career – you have got to have passion to teach.” Her advice to any new teacher is to “enjoy it”. The worst advice she got, she says, was to never smile before Christmas: “I don’t think you can be like that - there are certain children who need a smile and they need contact.” You have to remember, she says, that “every child is different and unique and comes from a unique experience at home and to get the best out of them you need to know their background you know who you need to be sensitive with.” Her advice is also to be consistent “it’s no good being really strict one lesson and then not the next”.
0911080 NASUWT Advert:Layout 1 26/11/2009 11:23 Page 1
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