Ask the Experts

We asked our Subject Experts one question. “What would be your one wish for ITT providers to include in training?” Here is what they told us;

Victoria Gould – Primary English

“I would like our curriculum offer to have a specific focus on oracy, structured talk and speaking & literacy skills so that trainees see this as an integral part of children’s diet in English. After all, it underpins reading and writing development. Cleverness as measured by our summative assessment system does not really count for much in the world of work; it is the spoken language and communication that is key! Looking ahead, it is an unknown future for our young people, but communication and collaborating with others is something technology will never replace. The English ITT curriculum must ensure that new entrants are equipped with the skills to explicitly plan for quality talk through a structured and tight framework so that children learn that their voice matters. It is essential that trainees can plan for dialogic learning so that they can generate and refine their ideas. As James Britton said; ‘reading and writing float on a sea of talk.’”

Matteo Sciberras – Primary Maths

“The idea of teaching with ‘variation’ by highlighting essential features of concepts in mathematics by varying the non-essential features. This includes both procedural variation and conceptual variation. Understanding procedural variation will support trainee teachers with intelligent question design that helps build connections between questions, while understanding conceptual variation will support trainee teachers with teaching through examples (both standard and non-standard ones) and non-examples (common misconceptions). In mathematics, and perhaps more easily than in other subjects, experienced teachers should be able to pre-empt possible misconceptions before a lesson. Guiding trainee teachers through this process is invaluable!”

Lynn Welsh – Secondary Art and Design

“Generically, I think that providing trainees with a bag of ‘go to’ strategies for managing behaviour in classes is so important. For some, it comes naturally but others can really struggle and would benefit from a ‘if this happens you could………’ Of course, there is no one answer, what might work for one might not work for another and every setting, context, teacher and child is different, however de-escalation phrases such as ‘Are you ok?’ are so incredibly useful and can be very helpful whilst trainees establish their own style.

“In terms of training to teach Art, Craft and Design I would really emphasise the need to teach skills. How to actually do the practical work that the trainees are required to know and teach. Whilst pedagogy is really important and trainees must understand this, they also need to know the basics, the bread and butter of the job – how to produce a reduction lino print for example or paint realistically using acrylics. The Art, Craft and Design remit is so broad and no one is an expert at everything. Many trainees for example are joining us with brilliant media skills but have never worked in 3D or find drawing a real challenge and it is important that we fully understand what our trainees can and can’t do and plan specifically to address those gaps.”

Susan Ogier – Primary Art and Design

“My one wish for ITT providers to include in training for Primary Art and Design would be that all trainees have access to enough high-quality practical sessions covering a wide range of processes, so that the focus can be on building trainees’ confidence to allow children time to experiment, explore and respond in their own way. It would be to ensure that trainees develop an understanding of the very distinctive nature of this area of learning, so that they get as much out of teaching the subject as the children do in learning in it!”

Steve Willshaw – Secondary English

“All secondary English ITT providers should encourage their trainees to read and provide opportunities for them to discuss Barbara Bleiman’s “What Matters in English Teaching! (2020). Here, Bleiman distils her lifetime’s learning into a series of pieces in which she articulates “what matters” as opposed to “what works”. In the process, she makes a compelling case for the vibrant and varied tradition of language and literature pedagogies which should be found in all classrooms. External pressures have sought to constrain what happens in English classes – this book seeks to set us free.”


Sarah Vaughan – Primary Computing

“My one wish would be for ITT providers to show students that a computer is not always needed to teach computing lessons. Unplugged lesson, lessons that don’t require a device, can be beneficial to pupils in numerous ways.  Examples could be using a role play activity with a simple jigsaw and a kitchen roll tube to demonstrate how packets of data are transferred, using a dance routine in PE to introduce repetition or using a ‘fake-bot’ to reduce the cognitive overload when introducing directional language.”

Helen Ostell – Primary and Secondary Physical Education

“An opportunity for trainees to discuss key principles in the context of their subject as well as holistically. For example; safeguarding, effective behaviour management, how pupils learn, inclusion, assessment, outstanding teaching and learning etc.”


Kit Rackley – Secondary Geography

“My one wish would be for ITT providers to include ‘training’ on simply being human and fallible. Not only is this important for the well-being and mental health of early careers teachers, to be able to recognise and accept that things won’t go well all the time and learning needs to happen from that, but also to create a safe learning environment for their pupils. Youngsters who see adults who display and model healthy ways of being fallible demonstrate that it is ok to make mistakes, that sometimes we fail, and that we can keep going and improve.”

Kirsty Wilcockson – Secondary Music

“My one wish would be to ensure that trainees are heavily encouraged to utilise their own experience of what music means to them. How can they build in opportunities to share with their pupils music that they enjoy listening to? Can they utilise the skills they have on an instrument, or through composition or technology? Can they weave their love and passion for the subject through curriculum planning and into every lesson to create truly musical experiences that inspire and ensure that their impact goes wider than their classroom teaching practice.”

Helen Snelson – Secondary History

“There is a lot that beginning teachers can learn about teaching history in their host departments, but much they cannot. How can I just pick one thing from many? OK, here goes! Please make sure that attention is given to the question: ‘What is the purpose of history teaching in schools?’ Everyday history teachers make decisions based on this one very important question. They need to be making these decisions consciously, and so the question needs to be explicitly thought about as part of creating professional behaviours and disposition. Answering this question involves engaging with what our preconceptions are about history, realising that there is a huge debate both across and within time about it, knowing how and why lots of people have an interest in answering the question, engaging with the concept of a coherent school curriculum, realising that this question says a lot about our values as people and as a society, and on top of all that, it determines what is taught in history across the key stages.”

If you have any questions you would like to ask our experts, then please contact us.

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