Member Spotlight

The Mid Somerset Consortium for Teacher Training works with over 30 secondary schools in the South-West of England as part of an inclusive and supportive partnership. The Ofsted-rated Outstanding SCITT offers courses to train to teach most subjects: fee paying and salaried places (in some subjects), and has specific expertise in collaborating with people with more complex educational backgrounds. In addition to QTS, teachers are eligible to opt to study for a PGCE accredited by Bath Spa University.

“We are a local provider and partnership is at the very heart of what we do,” said SCITT Partnership Manager Sarah Lewis, who is supported by two other colleagues and three visiting tutors who go into schools three times a year. “We really value, and are proud of, the strong relationships and trust that we have developed between provider and schools. We are here to listen and support, and to ensure that all trainees get the best training experience we can offer. Schools are involved in all aspects of our programme. Our cohort is typically 35-45 trainees per year and we normally (outside of Covid-19) meet all trainees each week and know them all really well. We have a real sense of community.”

Formerly an EBITT, and converted to a SCITT in 2012, the Mid Somerset Consortium has supported around 300 trainees to achieve QTS to date. “Very typically, approximately 80% of our trainees will get jobs in a partnership school, and the majority in one of the two schools in which they trained,” Sarah explained. “We support recruitment in our schools by offering apprenticeship and salaried routes so that they can fill vacancies and train people alongside them. If our schools have candidates, they will point them in our direction. We know which schools and departments provided quality training placements and we are able to some degree ‘match’ trainees with schools/departments. We will recruit to subjects which we know our schools need, and limit numbers in subjects where jobs are less frequently advertised. We estimate retention in employment numbers to be over 80%.”

On employability and preparedness for the classroom, Sarah pointed to how Mid Somerset Consortium trainees are in school from day one and treated as members of staff. “They start teaching classes in October and build on this and sustain it until the end of the course,” she revealed. “They are fully immersed in the department and the school community, hence they have good awareness of pedagogy and practices early on and are able to build on this. Trainees have to develop sustainable work habits and they are fully aware of the role of the teacher so have built resilience and coping strategies. Our weekly learning cycle is based on theoretical input (every Tuesday) and then translation of that into context in school through discussions with mentors, Heads of Departments and other teachers, as well as well observations and target-setting. We think that they learn fast and develop an understanding of how theory is converted in to practice.”

Many trainees apply to Mid Somerset Consortium having initially contacted a partnership school and are referred to the SCITT – or because they know someone who has already trained there. “There is generally a lack of people living in rural Somerset and Dorset who have degrees and want to train to teach, so our own reputation is important for recruitment and we have invested in our website to reflect the fact that people generally come to us directly rather than through events,” Sarah said. “Most trainees are mature candidates who are career changers and have a lot of work related experience and our ‘immersive’ course suits them. We will also look at people who have not taken a ‘traditional’ path through their education e.g. Open University degrees after leaving school at 16.”

She added: “We develop strong, long-term relationships with school staff. Communication is therefore very good and we are used to working together. The local focus within our provision and our understanding of the local context has been critical for the success we have enjoyed, and this success is ultimately highlighted by employment rates always being over 95%.”

Mid Somerset Consortium for Teacher Training

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