Member Spotlight

Fylde Coast SCITT, based at The Blackpool Sixth Form College, has operated as a SCITT for the past six years having been a School Direct provider with a local HEI previously. After starting out with 20 secondary trainees in 2015-16, it now has almost 50 primary and secondary trainees, and over 150 trainees have been recommended for QTS since it was awarded SCITT status through its EYFS, SEND, primary, secondary and post-16 provision.

The Ofsted-rated Outstanding SCITT, under its ‘Forging futures, one teacher at a time’ mission statement, has three core members of staff as well as a life coach, PSHE lead and additional coaches/facilitators brought in as required. “The Fylde Coast is arguably the perfect region in which to train to teach as we have such a varied partnership,” explained Fylde Coast SCITT Head of Initial Teacher Training Aly Spencer. “We have schools in every Ofsted category within minutes of each other. We have all-through schools, maintained, academies, private, faith, SEND, PRUs and SEMH schools. This local focus and the relationships across the region allow us to provide our recruits with exceptional career preparation. I can draw on my contacts and react very quickly to individual need. The programmes we offer are therefore truly bespoke: no two trainees have the same experience because they are different people who come with different skills, knowledge and expertise.”

Aly said the local focus of their provision, and understanding of the local context, brought huge advantages for a traditionally deprived community set within the Blackpool Opportunity Area. “It provides me with a better understanding of ‘best fit’ when it comes to placement design and ultimately employment,” she revealed. “I can tailor a trainee’s experience based on what I learn about them on entry and match them to the mentor and the school. This then has a very positive impact on retention, completion and employment rates. It allows me to have a supply-and-demand approach. I attend headteacher meetings, opportunity area boards and council meetings, and serve as a Chair of Governors of a local primary, so I have a real insight into the needs of our schools, the opportunities they provide and the challenges they face.”

Having trained 115 secondary teachers since 2015, Fylde Coast SCITT points to 100% employment rates on secondary with 108 former trainees still in teaching and several having secured leadership and management positions (primary data is not yet available due to the SCITT only being in its second year of operation for 4-11). Aly said:

“We recruit trainees from all walks of life and backgrounds, and the four core pillars of our SCITT curriculum ensure the employability and preparedness of NQTs for school. Firstly, the focus on wellbeing is at the core of our curriculum intent and implementation. If we train healthy and resilient teachers with healthy habits right from day one, they have stronger foundations on which to form a successful career; they will take better care of themselves and can thus instil these healthy habits in their pupils. We have our own life coach and induction week immediately introduces these philosophies which run throughout the year.”

“Secondly, our focus on responsibilities beyond the classroom and beyond the curriculum. Our enhancement weeks give trainees the opportunity to leave their placements and experience other settings. This not only enhances their knowledge and skills with regards to pedagogy but also gives them chance to see where they might want to work in the future. We insist that all of our secondary trainees are qualified as teachers of PSHE for free to better equip them for teaching beyond their curriculum areas.”

“Thirdly, our focus on subject-specific training for all. This is again provided by local experts and local Centres of Excellence and we can swiftly identify the highest performing teachers in our region to support our new recruits. Our professional studies programme involves a vast range of experts and leaders who give their time and share their knowledge for free.”

“And finally the aftercare service – all graduates of our programme receive high-quality aftercare. This means they have access to our curriculum sessions, they can attend additional CPD where they identify gaps, they can access our life coach so long as they stay in the region and I provide personalised support, guidance, coaching, visits, references, and a regular reminder of those healthy working practices to all.”

In 2017 Fylde Coast SCITT was rated Outstanding by Ofsted following its first inspection, which reported that the organisation was “determined to support school improvement across the sector by providing a pool of excellent NQTs that meet local needs”, and was “resoundingly successful in its mission”. Aly reflected: “All of the information above will offer evidence that smaller providers can provide a more tailored provision, ultimately because they have fewer numbers of trainees. The ‘local’ knowledge and rapid communication across a partnership in a region like ours allows for carefully constructed experiences and I am very lucky to have the support of our schools and headteachers. Given the circumstances in which we work, trust and integrity are very important core values.”

Aly also revealed that the SCITT’s approach to “creating little bubbles and little communities of like-minded people who know the context, as opposed to a one size fits all ‘brand’” will see them launch a similar programme in the Liverpool City Region from September 2021. She added: “This is the purpose behind the SCITT really: to grow our own talent from within our own schools via a tailored, contextualised curriculum. However, our broader curriculum preparation ensures that our graduates can teach anywhere, and our success is the reason why our expertise can travel to be just as successful in Liverpool.”

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1 Comment

  1. Nigel Bowen on April 13, 2021 at 9:17 am

    A very interesting article – thanks. Transition to Teach (T2T) are pleased to be working in partnership with Fylde Coast SCITT, giving complementary support to their career changer trainees.

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