The Opportunities and Challenges

September 15th, 2014

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger--but recognize the opportunity.”
John F. Kennedy

This week I have been mapping the professional studies programme for our trainee teachers and I am trying to hang on to the notion that the challenges I’m facing are really opportunities. The face of ITT is changing and the number of ways to train has significantly increased, and changed, over the last few years. Whilst on the surface this might seem positive for future teachers, I think it’s actually quite a confusing picture.

It’s our job now, as the system becomes more and more school led, to promote the various routes but before we do that, we have to choose the route we think is best for our schools and for our future teachers. I feel confident that our move to School Direct is the right one. However, at the moment we are in a transitional phase and are training teachers on a number of different programmes with a number of ITT providers and I’m well aware some schools may have even more routes on the go than us. By my last count I think these are the possible ways to train to teach: the PGCE, Salaried School Direct, Unsalaried School Direct, Teach First; Troops into Teaching… the list goes on.

I appreciate that different routes suit different people and if this gets the right people into the profession then great, but I am concerned that we run the danger of having a system that does not quite suit anyone, let alone everyone. Not only do have to ensure our programmes meet the requirements of the different routes, develop the individuals we are training but we also have to manage the expectations of the different HE providers – all of which run all of these routes differently!

The HE institutions are also in a state of change – an area which has been their domain for so long is slowly but surely shifting over to schools and whilst we try to find ways of making it work in our setting, they are understandably trying to maintain the ethos and principles they’ve always held albeit in a very new context.

However, there are real opportunities here to iron out the issues with the old system and ensure our trainees have a coherent and meaningful programme which effectively prepares them for the challenges of the profession and enables them to make the most of the opportunities it affords. I hope that the ‘hit and miss’ nature of some placements will be a thing of the past and instead trainees will have superb support in their subject areas from outstanding teachers and a professional studies programme which engages and inspires.