The world is constantly evolving and consequently the social and cultural challenges that education faces are forever changing. The delicate equilibrium of the Earth is dependent on many interlinking factors, just as the education system that the next generation deserve is. Over the last 18 months the stability of students’ journeys through their school years have been significantly different.

We know that all sectors of society have faced challenges and leaders of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) too were faced with “an immense challenge” (DfE 2021). The Teacher Supply Model (DfE 2019) estimates the overall number of qualified teachers that will be required with state-funded schools in England and the number of new teachers needed to enter the teaching profession each year. The 2020-21 Teacher Supply Model suggests an 11.8% decrease in primary trainees and a 3% decrease in secondary trainees. It is therefore clear that the collective 256 registered ITE partnerships have such an important role in ensuring the long-term future opportunities for the young people we educate.

Over the last two academic years, students and trainee teachers have faced disruption to their teaching and learning as well. The current cohort were recruited through remote or altered practices. Just like the ground being compressed downwards due to the pressure and weight of a glacier, the isostatic subsidence of the ITE landscape from the increasing pressure of adapting to, and managing, Covid-19 complications did lead to a reduction in normal practices for ITE providers. During the national lockdowns our professional studies and subject knowledge elements moved to remote delivery. It was a challenge for all providers to limit the extent to which operations may have been compressed.

We are pleased that our trainees were able to experience different school placements. As the period of national lockdown was imposed in early January 2021 our trainees were bubbled with their school mentors and followed the school’s expectations regarding lesson delivery. Each week we reviewed the trainees’ progress through our central quality assurance processes, and it was great to see their pedagogy developing, whilst through the technology available to us there were still opportunities for trainees to be observed and receive feedback from their Subject Pedagogy Tutors.

The restrictions associated with Covid-19 have progressively released the sense of pressure placed upon us and we can continue to support and develop our trainees in their emerging professional practice. At the start of the 2021-22 academic year we have an increasing sense of positivity as we enter a period of ‘isostatic rebound’, as the land begins to bounce back once the pressure of the glacial ice is removed.

Our trainees have begun their teaching journey at their home school placements, and each week we are excited to welcome them back on a Friday for their centralised training and to hear about their experience. In this period of rebound we are excited to reinstate specific elements of our course that have been put on hold in the last two years.

Mock interviews with our partner schools can return to a face-to-face experience. Trainees will visit a primary school to aid developing an understanding of the learning that students go through in the previous key stage to the stages they are being trained to teach within. Midway through the ITE year we also make sure the trainees get a wider understanding of alternative education providers and they spend a short time on an enhanced placement with a special school or pupil referral unit, and finally the Triad experience. We ensure that trainees get the chance to undertake peer observations and feedback by following the lesson study model with their peers across different placement schools.

Leading an ITE course is a privilege, but not one I undertake lightly. It is our responsibility to supply the profession with the highest quality of new entrants each year, and just like the ground in my example here, all at the John Taylor SCITT will rise to the continued challenges in this post Covid-19 lockdown landscape.

Mike Simmons is Secondary Programme Lead for the John Taylor SCITT

John Taylor SCITT


DfE (2019): Initial Teacher Training (ITT) allocations and the Teacher Supply Model (TSM), England 2020 to 2021 

DfE (2021): Teaching Teachers during Covid-19

Images copyright from: www.antarcticglaciers.org given copyright to courtesy of Tom James at Natural Resources Canada.








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