Can 'teach first' really be doing this?

(312 Posts)
Cathpot Sun 16-Jun-13 21:21:38

In our department at the moment is a very pleasant 21 year old who is on the teach first programme and doing some sort of research project for a week or so. She has a good degree and has signed up to the teach first programme to get into teaching. This summer she will get 6 weeks of training in how to teach, using I think at some point some summer school kids, then in September will be dropped into a difficult school (no choice of where to go) on a 2 year contract.

She is enthusiatic and bright and seems very keen and when I was talking to her I had to kept reminding myself not to look too shocked. She is going to stand up and teach her first proper class to her first proper group of probably very tricky teenagers on her first day in the job. This seems insane to me- how can this be working? How is this ok for her or the kids in her class? I am all for cutting down the college aspect of teacher training and getting students out into schools to work out how to do the job but it seem self evident that the PGCE year is essential to producing teachers who won't get eaten alive in tricky class rooms. She told me some schools have as many as 5 teachers from teach first at any one time and that if they dont stay on at the end of 2 years they just replace them with a new one. I can't really get past how insane this seems as an idea.

TheBeautifulVisit Tue 04-Mar-14 09:12:42

Really? Harefield is a fantastic school?

TheRoadLessTravelled Tue 04-Mar-14 09:38:10

Yes. Really.

They accept 15 students each year who are G &T in sport.
The competition for these places is so high that the majority of them represent the UK in sport. So you have 10% of the cohort who are extremely dedicated and hardworking in their sport. And generally they're like that in class too.

That HT on the program, who has now retired, took the school from about 9% passing GCSEs to about 60%. It is now a fantastic and inspiring school.

noblegiraffe Tue 04-Mar-14 10:15:26

I've just had a look at the DfE page for Harefield Academy. Ofsted said it was good in 2011. Their latest results are reasonable, although it stood out that only 4% of their high attainers achieved the ebacc and were only entered on average for 7 GCSEs. In contrast, high attainers at my school are entered for 9.

Also, I have taught my fair share of poorly behaved bottom sets. But if SLT were in the room they'd be as good as gold. I don't know many teachers who weren't utterly shocked at the behaviour while the head was in the room

rollonthesummer Tue 04-Mar-14 13:04:29

I don't know many teachers who weren't utterly shocked at the behaviour while the head was in the room

I completely agree. That says far more about the management of the school than it does about the student. I would have hated to do my training in that school!

Philoslothy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:49:05

I've also seen you claim that anyone of reasonable intelligence can teach - having seen quite a few people attempt and fail, I'm not sure I agree.
Having worked with PGCE students and NQTs the ones that fail tend to fall into the following camps.
1) They don't take advice
2) They don't work hard enough.
I really do think if you are willing to work hard and follow advice a reasonably intelligent person can teach and do a good job.

As I said I am not a teacher driven by a sense of vocation, I am not that talented and I am driven by a sense of wanting to get the job done as quickly as possible so I can indulge my real passions. I can't remember an observation recently which was not graded outstanding, it is just a case of reading the judgement criteria and putting it into action. I think to be a truly outstanding teacher is a different issue and they are much rarer.

Was it Teach First shouting at you and throwing books back at you, or was it the school you were in?
It was my school although from what I remember of my teach first mentor they were not full of the milk of human kindness either, you were just expected to get it right.

Philoslothy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:51:04

But if SLT were in the room they'd be as good as gold. I don't know many teachers who weren't utterly shocked at the behaviour while the head was in the room

I totally agree, when I walk in a classroom it falls silent , nothing to do with my abiity as a classroom manager but just because I am a senior teacher and in most schools that carries a level of respect with a touch of fear. I was very shocked that the children had so little respect for the headteacher.

TheBeautifulVisit Tue 04-Mar-14 21:18:08

Harefield don't even offer Further Maths A level. And their A level results show an average A level entry at grade D. And only 4% of its pupils get AAB including 2 core subjects. With above national average absence and above national average persistent absence. Blimey. If that's a good school I'm a Dutchman.

Thymeout Wed 05-Mar-14 08:43:53

No disrespect, Philoslothy, but I'm sure we're both aware that there isn't necessarily a correlation between getting an outstanding grade on an observation and being a good teacher. As you said, it's just a question of following the judgement criteria.

I know someone, rated as outstanding by Ofsted, who had actually got a 'cause for concern' from the HT over underperformance, aka skiving. She'd managed to get through 2 term's syllabus in 1 by doing most of the work orally to cut down on her marking. Not great, given she was an English teacher.

Philoslothy Wed 05-Mar-14 20:27:44

No disrespect, Philoslothy, but I'm sure we're both aware that there isn't necessarily a correlation between getting an outstanding grade on an observation and being a good teacher. As you said, it's just a question of following the judgement criteria.

That is exactly what I was saying, in my next sentence I then said that a truly outstanding teacher is a much rarer commodity and I have never claimed to be an outstanding teacher in reality. I am a good enough teacher, good enough is my speciality - I am a good enough wife and mother too. As I said intelligent people could be a good enough teacher. Being a good enough teacher is about just meeting the judgement criteria.

scott07 Fri 13-Jun-14 00:29:35

Reading through this thread I am shocked at the contempt held towards fellow teachers.

I am a TF teacher and teach secondary science. Addressing the claim that TF teachers are unqualified in their subject I have A Levels in Biology Chemistry and Physics, a first class degree in Genetics and a Masters in Biochemistry. From experience, the majority of TF teachers that I have came across have studied to a similar level as myself in their subject. Those who have not are addressing a shortage of teachers in their subject.

I am not denying that TF teachers are thrown in at the deep end. My first few months were an uphill struggle. This forced me to learn extremely quickly. Surely though every new teacher is in a similar position. They have no experience with that level of responsibility. The difference being that TF teachers are thrown in and teachers choosing other routes are more gradually eased in.

I disagree with the opinion being conveyed by some that TF teachers are 'posh' and 'arrogant'. I myself would definitely not be described as being from a privileged background. I have also never been arrogant in my role. At times I felt like a burden to fellow teachers. I was extremely aware that I was nowhere near as qualified as my colleagues. Despite this I have achieved excellent results in my role and hope to continue this in the future.

The skills needed to be an excellent teacher come with experience. TF offers this opportunity, the same as other routes into the profession. Everyone is working towards the same aim of excellent education. Different routes are chosen by different people. I think that people should have a more open mind towards TF teachers and treat them the same as any other person trying their best to teach.

lljkk Fri 13-Jun-14 09:07:53

ZOMBIE thread.
I think you're cherry picking the bits you most dislike, Scott07.

Luggagecarousel Fri 13-Jun-14 23:21:13

Not read the whole thread, but teach first is no different to a PGCE in the level of support and training,the only difference is they are paid!

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