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.

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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.

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

Really? Harefield is a fantastic school?

TheRoadLessTravelled Tue 04-Mar-14 07:21:43

The thing is, Harefield Academy is a fantastic school. I know loads of pupils and their parents and I've never heard a bad word said about it.

I think the only mistake they made was letting camera into the school.

The TF teachers my DCs have had have been good. Whereas I hate them (in primary) loosing oodles of teaching time being taught be trainee teachers who really don't have a clue. The fact they're supervised etc does not make up for the bad teaching my DC receives during their teaching.

We saw Meryl seriously struggle with a bottom set. Life is like that on bottom sets up and down the country. Her other sets weren't like that. Which is why they didn't show them.

My very wise DS thinks teachers get better once they've forgotten what they've been taught on their PGCE smile.

Certainly his TF English teacher was better than his current one.

Meryl takes the debating club at Harefield. Which is amazing because my DSs school can't get enough kids together for a debating club. So Meryl must be doing a lot right to have a debating club to run.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 04-Mar-14 07:10:45

Beautiful, you say Teaching pays insufficient money to afford a London lifestyle of any kind. Unless you bought your house in 1984. Teachers used to be able to live in London. This is not a problem unique to the teaching profession.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 23:41:51

I think you do yourself a disservice with your claims of being nothing special.

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.

Was it Teach First shouting at you and throwing books back at you, or was it the school you were in?

Philoslothy Mon 03-Mar-14 23:17:41

I never said that other trainees don't work insane hours. I am trying to recall events from almost a decade ago and that is my main memory, working every hour from waking until going to sleep. I think the fact that I agreed to work those hours when I became a teacher looking for an easy life speaks volumes for the people I was working with.

I benefitted from the feeling that I was doing the job rather than being a student. I felt like I had to get it right every quickly because I was being paid to do the job. I was also very aware that if I did not get it right, I would be sacked.

I am quite a tough cookie and my TF experience was at times brutal and tough and would not be for everyone. I was shouted at I did have books thrown back at me and told to mark them again. I was at times thrown in at the deep end , but was never left to drown. Although I felt a pressure to get it right because I was being paid, looking back I was treated like a trainee. I did spend time with my mentor every day. Every week my marking was thoroughly checked, staff were in and out of my lessons all of the time. I had to hand in lesson plans in advance and received feedback on that before teaching my lessons.

I think I said above that when I was training PGCE students I was told that I was too tough but is only sought to replicate my own training experience. I have seen some departments work with PGCE students and because they move on in a few months they have not been as tough as they should, thinking they will be moving on soon anyway. I was at my school for 2 years and therefore was not going anywhere quickly, it was in there interest for me to be as good as possible as quickly as possible. I could not be moved on in a few months. Although training experiences vary according to the school or even the department within the school.

I was constantly watched and monitored - and that may reflect that fact that I needed a very steep learning curve. By the end of the first year I was transformed and by the end of the second year I was the kind if teacher that I would want for my own children.

As for me not being special - there is not much I can say to that. I am not special but I am quite good at interviews. I managed to get into a "special " university despite being quite ordinary. I have also been quite lucky in my time. However the fact that I have stayed in teaching for almost ten years and done well suggests they made the right choice.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 22:24:22

Doesn't everyone work insane hours on teacher training?

Not much evidence of the rest on that programme.

I'm surprised that you think it was your training that has made you so successful, surely the ruthless entry criteria/interviews etc that people have mentioned were designed to spot your 'innate talent'? Weren't you supposed to be special?

Philoslothy Mon 03-Mar-14 21:45:54

I was never allowed to be crap or even mediocre. I was constantly pushed to be better and better. I observed some amazing teachers and stole lots from them. I was made to work insane hours to keep up with the workload and being quite lazy I thought about quitting endlessly but it built up my work ethic and energy levels.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 21:40:10

Philoslothy, I'm intrigued, could you give a bit more detail about any aspect of your TF training in particular that lead to you being nominated for awards etc?

Philoslothy Mon 03-Mar-14 21:22:07

I do think that the BBC programme was a poor representation of TF.

I was constantly monitored and held to account. I could never have had chaotic lessons for weeks on end.

I was a shockingly shit teacher when I started and I am now a good enough teacher. I have a string of outstanding observations , both internal and from OFSTED. I have fantastic results and have been nominated for national awards as well as rising to senior leadership. That is not down to any kind of innate talent or a sense of vocation. it is down to the training I received.

If the TF programme was a poor one, I would have been one of its casualties.

EvilTwins Mon 03-Mar-14 21:22:00

A PGCE student doesn't job share. Whilst on placement (for a few months) a PGCE student will teach lessons which would normally be taught by the usual class teacher. The normal class teacher supports, team-teaches, oversees assessment etc In secondary, this might mean a PGCE student working with several different teachers, depending on how the timetable has been organised. At the end of the placement, the class reverts to the original teacher, who has retained overall responsibility throughout.

With TF, the TF teacher has his/her own timetable, with overall responsibility for those classes.

They don't job share. They go on school placements, like work experience. The class teacher is in charge, and helping the PGCE student. The class are the teacher's responsibility and if the PGCE student struggles, it's the class teacher's role to support/liaise with the uni etc.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 03-Mar-14 21:17:25

Remus - Ah thanks. I didn't realise PGCE teachers job-shared in effect. Thanks for explaining.

EvilTwins Mon 03-Mar-14 21:16:36

Beautiful please READ the posts.

PGCE students work with current teachers and their existing classes - so the PGCE student would be teaching my class. I didn't really go anywhere in particular - sometimes just a walk down the corridor - to give them chance to establish themselves with a class without me staring at them all the time! But I was always near enough to support/pick things up again as needed.

TF are pretty much on their own for most, if not all, of their lessons, from the word go.

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