Victoria Lickley, SCITT Programme Lead, HART of Yorkshire SCITT

Why don’t people want to train to teach? This is the question I asked myself last year when recruitment of teacher trainees was particularly slow.

If I took any notice of the barrage of negative messages about Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers from ‘the powers that be’ then I would have believed that anyone off the street would make a good teacher; I would have sorted out the workload and time management problem by giving just one training session on Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle; I would have dealt with the issue of wellbeing by employing a School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) yogi and masseuse; and whipped up a resilience elixir for all trainees to drink at their graduation ceremony to get them through unrealistic expectations in the first five years of teaching. Job done! However, we all know that unless the real issues with the teaching profession (workload, lack of professional respect, money etc) are dealt with then there is not an awful lot that can be done about the current situation.

Or is there? What if I rephrased the question? What are the main barriers for those who want to train to teach? Then you get very different answers. The three main reasons are: lack of time, confidence and money. Our programme has lost many potentially great trainees due to the fact that we have no salaried places, low bursaries for primary training and that many career changers have families and financial commitments. If I thought of it that way then there was something I could do. I could set up a part-time programme so that a trainee could work and/or take care of a family as well as train to be a teacher.

With the backing of the Accounting Officer and Strategic Board at HART of Yorkshire SCITT, I looked into what was out there already and the possible pitfalls. Were there already lots of part-time courses in our area? No. Were the applicants on a part-time course of a lower calibre? No. Were the outcomes lower? No. Was there a higher drop-out rate? No. Could we do it financially? Yes – it was tight but we definitely could.

The most useful piece of advice I received was from Joanne Clifford Swan, Director of Partnerships in Initial Teacher Education at Northumbria University: ‘Don’t make the mistake of trying to stretch your one-year course over two years’. HART of Yorkshire SCITT already has two very successful one year full-time PGCE programmes for 3-7 Primary and 5-11 Primary and I could have easily made that mistake. A working party was set up, with key members from different areas of the current training programmes to provide a range of perspectives, and the hard work began.

The decision was made that there would be two extended teaching practices (one in each year of the course) as we needed to ensure that our trainees had the ability and resilience to teach over a sustained period of time. Just because the trainees were on a part-time course did not necessarily mean they would only want to teach part-time. After that, we factored in the PGCE modules and the training sessions.

Week by week the programme has begun to take shape. Many questions and problems have arisen along the way: Could trainees choose their own schools for non-assessed placements? What happens if a trainee does not pass the first placement? What happens between year one and two?

As we enter 2019, there is still a lot of work to be done but I am confident that the trainees will receive the same high quality training as those on the full-time course. We have already recruited to the part-time course and response has been positive at recruitment events.

HART of Yorkshire SCITT may be a small teacher training provider in the north of England but I think we have developed innovative, quality training for those who want to teach. Up and down the country, I have met and spoken to leads of other ITT providers (SCITT and Higher Education Institutions) who are just as committed to providing the best teachers for the children in our schools. We are all doing our bit.

The next bit? An Early Career Framework that supports our trainees and ensures a smoother transition into the first years of teaching. Over to you, Department for Education, same question: why don’t people want to train to teach?

Provider details: HART of Yorkshire SCITT


Facebook: HART of Yorkshire SCITT

Twitter: @Yorkshirescitt

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