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Teach First/School Direct are just mad, right?

(79 Posts)
noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 11:43:25

I did a PGCE and it was a difficult year with an intense workload. The periods at uni were a blessed respite from the school placements with the teaching/lesson planning/marking requirements.

My department has always taken PGCE students. They often seem exhausted by the end of their placement and work long hours. They are teaching about ten hours by Christmas, so a gentle but ramped introduction. They have a teacher in with them every lesson.

Which got me thinking about Teach First - they start on a 60-80% timetable, despite probably having as much teaching experience as my PGCE students. They own their own classes so no teacher in with them, only feedback is from proper observations. If the TF student quits, the school is then left with a hole in their staffing.

I’m not sure about School Direct timetabling but it’s also a ‘drop in at the deep end’ approach (more or less supportive depending on whether salaried).

How are they not seen as a bonkers training route? How can you hone your craft when you’re pinging from one lesson to the next from the start? And you don’t have a class teacher on hand to provide guidance and take over if things go badly?

And yet I’ve seen people on here say ‘I’d prefer to do School Direct to a PGCE because I’d prefer to learn on the job’ like a PGCE is an entire year spent in a lecture theatre.

I get that some people need the salary and don’t have a choice, but that’s not always the case.

Surely a PGCE is better for the trainee, the school, and for the classes they teach?

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Piggywaspushed Sat 04-Jan-20 12:17:30

Did you watch the TV programme a few years ago about TF trainees? They were very variable in quality and ability to cope. They did seem to get quite a lot of mentoring.

Iirc none of them (maybe one) stayed in teaching.

I don't think Schools Direct is quite as intense.

Piggywaspushed Sat 04-Jan-20 12:18:09

And, yes, I have major concerns about impact on the pupils.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 12:20:08

Oh I remember the guy in the burgundy trousers writing poetry in the toilets. He’s not in teaching, he’s got some education start-up I think.

I suspect as TF has exploded, the support has lessened. They’ve reduced the entry requirements too so are surely placing students even less likely to cope in schools.

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IndecentFeminist Sat 04-Jan-20 12:21:11

I did the original GTP and quite enjoyed it. It suited me, but I guess wouldn't everyone.

AHouseCoveredInVines Sat 04-Jan-20 12:27:00

I teach in Scotland and I can’t believe what I read on MN about education in England.

There was a thread in Primary Ed about a week ago about how supply teachers were a waste of money and how the TA could teach. That would never be acceptable here.

I would be furious if my DC had someone with a few weeks’ training (a la SD/ TF) as their main teacher. It just beggars belief.

Piggywaspushed Sat 04-Jan-20 12:31:32

TF has never been in my area but is beginning to creep into the Free Schools (you know where I mean!) . We are mainly a SCITT/ PGCE area but dabble in Schools Direct . Anecdotally, SD trainees are generally actually less capable and need more support.

stoplickingthetelly Sat 04-Jan-20 12:32:21

Not all of these types of courses have such a heavy teaching load from the start. I’ve got a trainee until Feb half term doing a similar course to TF and they started off doing shared teaching then just a lesson or 2 a week and built up slowly. They will only do 70% for the last 2 weeks of their placement. I also check their lesson plans and resources so that I know the correct information is still being delivered. In addition, I’m still in the classroom supervising too. So can quality assure what is being taught.

WhiskersPete Sat 04-Jan-20 12:33:48

As the quality of a teacher is largely down to their experience it could be argued that TF trainees gain experience quicker and therefore improve quicker due to so much contact time.

Like any ITT route it has its pros and cons.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 12:39:42

TF trainees gain experience quicker and therefore improve quicker

No! Doing something over and over again doesn’t mean that you improve at it unless you have time to reflect on what went wrong and have constructive feedback from someone experienced who can point you in the right direction.

TF neither gives you the time to reflect nor the amount of feedback a PGCE can offer. (Our PGCE students get informal feedback after every lesson).

If there isn’t a teacher assigned to the class, the workload will also fall to one person so they won’t get the variety of support. A secondary PGCE student will teach the classes of various teachers and will get different pointers on lesson plans, behaviour management and teaching from each.

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 12:41:54

I would be furious if my DC had someone with a few weeks’ training (a la SD/ TF) as their main teacher.

Me too. And they’ll have them for a whole year!

All trainees are a bit rubbish (otherwise we wouldn’t need training) and anyone who has had a student in their class knows that they often have to pick up the pieces once they are gone.

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WhiskersPete Sat 04-Jan-20 12:46:10

But reflection is largely useless without adequate experience to draw on.

WhiskersPete Sat 04-Jan-20 12:48:03

Reflection is a continuous process that happens after each lesson whether you are TF or PGCE.

SaintEyning Sat 04-Jan-20 12:48:20

Hmm. I was SD but PGCE - all it meant was I knew where my placements would be located which was important in terms of managing my childcare and I finished my training at the school I started at with a short alternative placement in spring2.

I had the same ramped up teaching tt as the “normal” PGCE student (from a different university). Our university input was 8 days in the first 2 weeks of term, then 1 day a week for the remaining 38 weeks (not including holidays, obviously - or the 7 weeks they were on bloody strike... leaving me somewhat puzzled as to why it cost £9250 in fees with so little university teaching input....).

My friend who is SD with a SCITT has one day a week at the hub school for pedagogical input but I’m not sure if she will have as much academic writing to do although the course is accredited by a local university.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 12:53:49

I was SD but PGCE
My friend who is SD with a SCITT

Dear god what is this? I heard that there were too many routes into teaching leaving people confused before they’d even signed up. How do people decide? No wonder recruitment is down.

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Piggywaspushed Sat 04-Jan-20 12:54:14

I am not sure I 100% agree that a quality of a teacher is largely down to their experience or at least not that this means accelerated experience speeds up the acquisition of 'quality'

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 12:55:08

I have a feeling that some schools use TF to fill recruitment gaps because they can’t hire qualified teachers. This is obviously not great,

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Piggywaspushed Sat 04-Jan-20 12:55:18

A secondary PGCE student will teach the classes of various teachers and will get different pointers on lesson plans, behaviour management and teaching from each

Not in my bloody department they don't.

LucyLastik Sat 04-Jan-20 12:56:22

I'm an RQT having completed the salaried SD route. I'm also mentoring a SD student this year who works in my class, teaching my class with my support. It's not always the case that trainees are dropped into classes and expected to take full responsibility.

Competition for SD around here is fierce, especially for the salaried route. You usually have to have extensive in school experience before being offered a place. Most of us on my course had been TAs in schools for years before training.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-20 12:59:10

I'm an RQT having completed the salaried SD route. I'm also mentoring a SD student this year who works in my class

You’re a second year teacher responsible for the training of a student?

Is the student salaried? I thought salaried SD had their own classes, like TF.

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FredaFrogspawn Sat 04-Jan-20 13:00:44

I did a schools based teacher training scheme - to pgce in the later 90s. It entailed a day a week at uni doing lectures etc and two twilight sessions a week (4-6) throughout the year. You had a main mentor and did a couple of shorter placements with a mentor in those schools. It worked well - it was set up initially to help schools in a less-easy-to-recruit area to have a supply a new teachers. It was a pretty rigorous training.

SpiderHunter Sat 04-Jan-20 13:01:31

I was SD and had the same "ramping up", not thrown in the deep end. The only difference between me and the uni trainees was that I spent two weeks in my lead school before the uni sessions started and knew where my placements would be before the year started.

My previous school, however, had salaries SD trainees who had their own classes and a 0.5 timetable. I got to know one of them pretty well. She was my form's maths teacher and I was supporting her behaviour management as no one else was helping her (her mentor was teaching at the time she had her most difficult classes).

Personally, I think that full time teachers already struggle to find the time to do proper research and find evidence to improve our practice. If we have an increasing number of teachers being trained without even considering the importance of proper research it will exacerbate the problem.

FredaFrogspawn Sat 04-Jan-20 13:02:46

I suspect TF is mainly used by schools for financial reasons as well as recruitment difficulties.

WhiskersPete Sat 04-Jan-20 13:02:52

*A secondary PGCE student will teach the classes of various teachers and will get different pointers on lesson plans, behaviour management and teaching from each

Not in my bloody department they don't.*

Nor in mine...

LucyLastik Sat 04-Jan-20 13:04:22

Yes, I'm in my second year of teaching and yes I'm responsible for a salaried student. All approved by SLT, teaching school and the university that accredits the course.

I have full responsibility for the teaching and learning of children in my class so I have to make sure that my student is fully supported and supported well to teach effectively.

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