Sophie MacCormack

Sophie’s excellent start has vindicated the decision for the school to involve itself with ITT”

At Churchill Community College (CCC) we relish the opportunity to host trainee teachers and help develop the next generation of teachers. We understand what the benefits of hosting trainees brings to mentors, departments and schools: new ideas, fresh practice, energy, enthusiasm and an expectation of professional support throughout. One such trainee, Sophie MacCormack, arrived at CCC in January 2020 from Newcastle University to start her long teaching placement in our science department.

Despite the fact that Sophie’s teaching placement was cut short in mid-March, it did not impede her development nor the qualities shown and the positive impression she made in the short time she was at CCC, and was subsequently appointed as a NQT starting in September 2020. However, when we realised that it was going to be very difficult to complete any transition for the Year 7 students who would be joining us in September, she took it upon herself to engage in the school’s online offer to students during the initial lockdown period.

During lockdown we decided that we would issue the year group with a class reading book and hold virtual readings over Google Classroom. Working alongside the school’s Literacy Coordinator, Sophie helped students receive a transition programme over the summer break. This included recording two videos of her reading the transition texts to the Year 6 students, creating an Oracy task for the students to complete, and ensuring that she created a positive relationship with her future Year 7 tutor group. This is not Sophie’s specialism, yet she was really keen to help in any way that she could.

Sophie was the first member of staff to volunteer to do this, and the first member of staff to send in her completed video, showing her hard work and determination is not just for inside the school but her commitment extends to the wider school community too. She also opted to voluntarily support both students and the science department during lockdown. She attended all the staff meetings and briefings in order to offer any help she could and to be fully prepared to teach KS3, KS4 and applied science, something which was unfamiliar to her. She did this alongside helping her previous employer with regular calls to elderly and vulnerable people.

Since the start of September, and with the return of schools, Sophie has been a model NQT and valued member of the science team and our school community. She is well organised, hard-working and enthusiastic. She has had to develop her practice quickly to get used to bubbles and classes all over the school. Utilising the soft skills of being flexible and adaptable developed during her training year, Sophie has also started to establish positive relationships with all students she comes into contact with.

Sophie has been proactive in asking for support, and as a result, has created a calm and safe environment in her lessons. Due to the complications of blended learning, Sophie has had to make booklets for KS3. These incorporated recall and retrieval activities, literacy and numeracy activities and differentiated activities; they were produced to an excellent standard, meeting the needs of the curriculum. In addition, Sophie has been able to quickly master the school’s policies and expectations such as using structured talk strategies, a complex tutor programme and the school’s behaviour policy. This, in turn, has enabled her to have an excellent presence in lessons and being able to produce high-quality teaching and instruction.

Considering she had a shorter ITT year, and is also now completing her NQT year in extremely uncertain and unusual circumstances, this shows her strength of character, talent, professionalism and resilient attitude to everything that she does both inside and outside of the school building. She has been helpful, dependable and enthusiastic about everything she does. She is always offering to help in every way she possibly can. Sophie’s excellent start has vindicated the decision for the school to involve itself with ITT and the school looks forward to working with more trainees in the future.

Gordon Todd is NQT and ITT co-ordinator lead at Churchill Community College



“Like any other trainee teacher, the transition from my initial placement to the second felt daunting at first. I had just managed to get to know my first set of students and felt like I was getting somewhere with my confidence and teaching, when it was time to start my second placement. It did not take long however, until I was beginning to feel settled and more confident again. This just so happened to be at the same time as Covid-19 reared its ugly head.

Worried about the prospect of finishing my PGCE without actually having a job secured or having taught enough hours, I did not know what to expect over the coming months. Luckily for me, on the day my placement was terminated, I was offered a job at my placement school. I was thrilled and flattered that the school would take a gamble on employing me, when I had not even finished my teaching practice.

Over the intial lockdown period, I ensured that I remained in regular contact with my department and offered my support when needed. As I was not required to teach any remote learning, I felt a bit useless sitting at home, and so I was happy to help out anywhere needed. It was really beneficial to still be invited to staff meetings at this time, albeit over Zoom rather than face-to-face. This helped keep me in the loop with developments but also made me feel more confident in what was going to happen when we returned in the September term.

Over this time, I also helped my department to develop distance learning resources. This was really beneficial as it helped me to get back into the swing of planning effective lessons; having to think about assessment opportunities, differentiated tasks and how we could spark interest in our students once again. I was also asked to prepare some introductory videos around reading for my future Year 7 form class, which I found really enjoyable. As my time in school had been cut short, I did not feel as though I had much pastoral experience, and so this really helped me get ready for this opportunity.

When September arrived I was apprehensive about whether I would be able to remember how to teach, whether I would be able to effectively manage behaviour, and whether I would survive teaching in this current climate. In hindsight, this was an excellent opportunity to be a new member of staff, as it kind of felt like everyone else was also having to learn how to teach again, in this new Covid-secure style. Because I already knew my department and mentor, this made my transition to an actual member of staff much easier; I knew I could ask any of them for help or guidance at any time. I am really fortunate and grateful to have a fantastic support system in school, whether it is to go for advice on how to teach a specific piece of content, behaviour management techniques or just to let off some steam after a busy day.

Although I missed out on some of my training time, every day I feel like I am growing in confidence and do not feel as though this missed time has massively negatively impacted my professional development. If anything, it has provided me with an opportunity to be even more resilient, more dynamic and innovative in my teaching practice, and ultimately, hopefully a better teacher. Although it is a different experience teaching, I am genuinely loving every second of it. I think now more than ever, the importance of education is evident, and I am really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Sophie MacCormack, Science NQT, Churchill Community College






1 Comment

  1. Debi Bailey on December 3, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Fantastic abs just what the profession need!

Leave a Comment