NASBTT has supported the creation of Teaching Together in Europe (TTE), a trainee placements partnership led by The English College in Prague and involving two other British International Schools and UK teacher training providers.
Trainees at Nottinghamshire Torch SCITT and Pennine Lancashire SCITT, both NASBTT members, are being given the opportunity to apply for placements in Prague, Brussels (The British School of Brussels) or Rome (St George’s British International School, Rome) where they will develop skills in an international context and gain new ideas to take back to British classrooms. Additionally, The English College in Prague is offering placement opportunities for secondary-phase trainees from One Cumbria Teaching School Hub, with a specific focus on the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
The TTE partnership was born out of a desire to “deepen connections between UK teacher training and British International Schools in Europe”, explained Tony Emmerson, Senior Deputy Head at The English College in Prague.
“We had wanted to get into some form of teacher training for a while, and as a Council of British International Schools (COBIS) Training School it is one of our commitments, but the idea for the partnership only came about following a COBIS event where NASBTT Executive Director Emma Hollis outlined the different ways that schools abroad can approach teacher training,” Tony said. “That was the moment I thought, ‘why don’t we have trainees from the UK in our school?’ We have some exceptional teachers who learnt their craft in the UK – but, as the sector looks globally for inspiration, there is also a need for UK trainees to experience different education systems, approaches to assessment and cultural norms, and to be mentored by expert teachers based in Europe.”
Having decided that “collective knowledge” from other leading HMC international schools, with the same academic aspirations for their students, would be more valuable than going it alone, Tony secured engagement from The British School of Brussels and St George’s British International School, Rome – also COBIS Training Schools – to offer a “really compelling package to the UK”. NASBTT provided guidance, including on curriculum requirements, during set up and in reaching out to UK teacher training providers.
“We issued a joint communication to NASBTT members and had an overwhelming 25 expressions of interest,” Tony said. “The two SCITTs we selected for the partnership had both excitement for the initial idea and a real blue-sky vision of what it could be, particularly in terms of shared experiences for students and shared professional learning opportunities for teachers. We are also delighted to be hosting trainees from One Cumbria Teaching School Hub, whose leaders are especially passionate about internationalism and the IB Diploma.
“During 2021-22, the three hosting schools and the SCITTs have coordinated agreements on the amount of teaching and which enrichment activities the trainees will experience, as well as logistics such as accommodation, transport and international paperwork. This process has been expertly coordinated by Emily Rankin and Daniel Ibbitson, who are two key members of ECP’s Teaching and Learning team. Once the vision and framework were in place it was time for the true educationalists to take over. A pleasing bonus was that the process was streamlined by a direct relationship forming organically between the two SCITTs, which I had not previously considered but is very much in the spirit of this collaborative venture.”
In autumn 2021 Tony, and The English College in Prague Headmaster Dr Nigel Brown, met over 120 trainee teachers in the UK to discuss TTE, and applications followed. The first set of six-week placements for Nottinghamshire Torch SCITT and Pennine Lancashire SCITT trainees began in April 2022, together with shorter IB-focused placements spanning three weeks for trainees from One Cumbria Teaching School Hub, following a Covid enforced delay.
“By helping to develop and mentor new teachers, we will further enhance our status as a beacon of innovation and professional learning,” Tony said. “It will also encourage us to engage with our teaching skills, keeping us sharp, whilst opening up a whole new world of student and teacher exchanges and learning experiences. Every staffroom needs flexibility, adaptability and the ability to think outside the box. We all have a responsibility to shape the next generation of teachers and, as our schools benefit so much from UK-trained teachers, it is good for us to offer something in return.”
Tony added: “NASBTT’s role, regular steers from Emma in particular, has been absolutely crucial for developing TTE: access to factual information, advice that informed how the programme would work, and as a route to teacher training providers. We will be running further cycles of trainees, potentially growing numbers in the future, and we will be liaising with COBIS and NASBTT to discuss the working model to ensure it is delivering the best possible experience and ultimately proving useful for trainees.