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News & Views

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Teaching School Hub in the news

Please see below for the latest news from the Teaching School Hub

To find out more about first-hand experiences within our remit, read our relevant NPQ or ECF testimonials and case studies.

 

Views from our leaders

A warm welcome to Helen Thatcher

Helen joined the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Teaching School Hub (CPTSH) team on 1st September 2023 as our new Appropriate Body Lead. With teaching school hubs officially becoming the main provider of appropriate body services from September 2023, CPTSH is now offering a Cambridgeshire & Peterborough AB Service for 2023-24. We met Helen to discuss her role, her career in teaching spanning 18 years, and how she plans to make a difference to the region’s Early Career Teachers (ECTs).

Tell us about why you trained to be a teacher, and where your career has taken you. 

“It was my destiny, I think! I come from a family of teachers. My grandparents were teachers, my uncle and cousin too. I spent a lot of time with my gran when I was growing up and this probably influenced my career path. I was always interested in people, understanding different beliefs people held, having impassioned arguments about Philosophy and ethics, and passing that knowledge on so becoming an RE teacher seemed the perfect career. I completed my, what was then NQT induction at The Kingswood School in Corby and then went on to The Voyager School in Peterborough as Head of RE and Citizenship. I have also worked at Ernulf Academy in St Neots and St Peter’s School in Huntingdon.”

What inspired you to stay in teaching for so long?

“The students – we have had some amazing experiences together. Taking children on school trips who have never been anywhere before; getting a passport for the first time, seeing their faces when they go on a plane, and visiting countries they have never been to, or going to the seaside in England on Geography fieldtrips. Inviting guest speakers to the school, for example Holocaust survivors, making the learning more impactful and important to the students. Offering the Duke of Edinburgh Award and supporting students complete their expeditions. It is the knowledge that we are making a difference to children’s lives, and this is so much more than just their time in the classroom. Teaching is about giving children the chance to achieve things they would not have otherwise achieved and giving them opportunities, and it is a privilege being there to see them do it.”

What attracted you to the AB Lead role at CPTSH?

“I wanted more flexibility in my life, as I have two children, but I wanted to stay in education so when this opportunity came up it was the perfect mix. I have a longstanding passion and commitment to teacher development, having worked with The Cambridge Partnership for nine years as an RE subject tutor so bringing ITT experience, and I have also undertaken ECT mentoring throughout my career. I knew about CPTSH as I am currently completing my NPQLT, which has been a very positive experience for me. The Hub is clearly growing with the ‘Golden Thread’ running through it, offering great opportunities for teachers of all stages of their career!”

What are the key services you are overseeing?

“Appropriate bodies have two clear roles: monitoring of support, checking that ECTs are receiving their statutory entitlements and providing Early Career Framework (ECF) fidelity checks, ensuring that schools are supported to provide ECTs with an ECF-based induction; and monitoring of assessment, making the final decision on whether the ECT has satisfactorily met the Teachers’ Standards, based on the headteacher’s recommendation. Essentially, I see my role as ensuring that ECTs receive the support they deserve and are entitled to; making sure that schools are giving them what they need and having somebody independent that all stakeholders can work with to help navigate that when required.”

Based on your experiences, are you able to put yourself in the shoes of an ECT today?

“New teachers can feel they are expected to be perfect at their job, and it can feel quite isolating and overwhelming at times. When I started teaching, I went from a very reduced PGCE timetable to being responsible for classes of all year groups from year 7-13 and being a form tutor, it felt like I had been thrown in at the deep end! The induction process is designed to help support ECTs so that they have time to grow and develop their skills; giving them designated time to research, observe, learn and put into action all the pedagogy and practice that will help them to become excellent teachers. I think it is important to recognise that new teachers are still perfecting their craft, and we don’t stop after the two-year induction either. Learning is always important whatever stage we are at. At the Teaching School Hub we have a lot of teaching expertise, so we have a lot of empathy – we understand the difficulties of being a teacher and the pitfalls of being a mentor. Working together, we can help ECTs to feel that they can do the job and support them in this.

What does success look like for the AB Service?

“We have over 600 ECTs this year in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and that is likely to increase over time. The target for us is to ensure that 100% of our ECTs are able to successfully complete their induction. We want them to feel supported and know where to go to with any problems and know that these problems will be resolved as well as they can be. Another success measure would be to see ECTs completing their induction and returning as mentors in the future, passing on their invaluable learning to the next cohort of ECTs. My message to schools is that if they need support, we are available. I have an excellent team who are very efficient at resolving issues. No question is a silly question, we are here to help.”

 

Helen Thatcher

Appropriate Body Lead

Teacher Recruitment and Retention - by Richard Davies

The shortage of teachers has been a hot topic throughout the summer, and it seems that schools in our region are beginning to find it difficult to recruit in key subjects and phases. Looking at the data provided by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) supports the view that this recruitment challenge isn’t going to be solved quickly. “NFER’s latest forecast of secondary teacher training recruitment in England shows that only 52% of the required number of teachers are likely to be recruited this year, with all subjects except history, classics and PE being below target.” (NFER Statement September 12, 2023). What is clear is that schools will need to think creatively about how to fill their timetables with appropriately qualified teaching staff in the future. Some medium-term planning may be required to ensure schools have the qualified staff they need in the years ahead.

One of the best ways to do this is the ‘grow your own’ model of teacher training. Across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough there are a significant number of outstanding people, committed to education, working in support roles in schools. Supporting these people to complete their QTS qualification is one way that we can begin to solve the recruitment crisis in our region. There are a number of different funding routes available to support people while they train; although DfE bursary payments tend to follow the national shortages and target STEM and MFL subjects, there are other routes available that many schools may not have used previously. For example, local ITT Providers can offer part-time training routes to enable an HLTA to continue working while they train over 2 years. Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeships are available in all subjects and phases through The Cambridge Partnership and Teach East. This route allows the apprentice to teach unsupported, while they train on a day release model, typically being out of school for one day each week as well as a 6-week block later in the year to complete their contrasting school placement. The apprentice receives an unqualified teacher salary so has a funded route into teaching while the employing school can use their apprenticeship levy to pay the tuition fee. The Cambridge Partnership website has more details if you feel you have a staff member who may qualify for this route. School Direct Salaried routes are still available too, which may mean a school could employ a trainee to teach for part of their week and train for the rest.

For secondary schools there are some generous bursaries available to support trainees while they train. Although the figures for 2024-25 training programmes are yet to be released, it is widely expected that the scheme will be expanded to encompass more subjects to try and boost ITT applications. There have been no bursaries to support primary training for several years now, but there are ‘QTS only’ options available to make the training programme slightly more affordable for candidates. Teacher trainees who follow the QTS only programme could complete their ECT training and then enrol on a PGCE course or master’s later in their career, ensuring this isn’t a barrier to career progression. If these options don’t work, student loans are available to most tuition fee paying trainees. With so many different routes available, now may be the time to investigate further.

What is clear from the latest data around teacher recruitment and retention is that the high living costs and lack of London weighting are having a disproportionate effect on schools in our region so we will need to work hard to recruit the outstanding teachers that every child deserves.

If you would like to talk to someone about a potential trainee teacher or more generally about how to work with local training providers to support their programmes, please complete this expression of interest form

 

Richard Davies

Director of The Cambridge Partnership

Martin Lee

Director of CTSN

Henry Sauntson

Director of Teach East

Invest in your Mentors - by Henry Sauntson

Henry Sauntson head shotMentors can have impact – Ingersoll and Strong (2011) show us that they can help enable specific teaching practices and retain teachers in the profession but we have to pay attention to their use and their appropriate training. What better way to run iterative professional development than through a system of mentor development for all staff? Mentors should be shaping whole-school culture.

Let’s look at it this way: what if we saw mentorship as a highly cost-effective and structured way of engaging staff in professional development? ‘Mentors who are educated about mentoring can advance the quality of preservice teacher education and, simultaneously, advance their own skills’ (Hudson, 2013, p.772). Mentoring within the Core Content Framework (CCF) and Early Career Framework (ECF) is, perhaps, the best way of learning the newly-coined languages of Early Career Development and indeed the shifts in semantics within the teaching profession as a whole; anyone engaging in Mentor training aligned to the ECF is automatically working with what has been agreed by the DfE as the ‘best available evidence’ to underpin Teacher Standards, and also engaging in the fresher terms and approaches to adaptive teaching, retrieval, curriculum development et al. Yes, the evidence base is limited but it is a starting point, and a central starting point at that; much of what currently underpins Initial Teacher Education and Early Career Teacher Induction is becoming more and more prevalent in wider professional development approaches and focuses.

Mentors work with those freshest into the profession, educated and trained using the most up-to-date thinking and practice; mentoring is therefore mutual CPD – a wealth of support for the newer practitioner and a developmental impetus for the more experienced guiding hand. In short, investment in mentors and mentoring as professional development can enhance the following:

  • More-experienced teachers’ engagement with newer technologies and pedagogies used by the Mentee;
  • Access to relevant, pertinent and up-to-date research evidence, but with the added filter of domain-specific experience; material is there to be challenged as well as consumed; ‘like teaching, mentoring must be purposeful and guided by empirical evidence and the literature’ (Hudson, 772);
  • Reflection through deconstruction of one’s own existing practices and modelling approaches; for example, recently published research by Ambition Institute has found that ‘teacher educators should seriously consider incorporating models into teacher training aimed at supporting teachers’ use of evidence-based practices’ (Ambition, 5)
  • Refinement of existing competencies, with the added value of increase confidence through the leadership and directing of another; competence stems from confidence;
  • Efficiency and effectiveness as a by-product of modelling and explaining pedagogical and curriculum decisions;
  • Advancement of the mentor’s pedagogical content knowledge;
  • Leadership and communication skills.

The realities are stark – the pressure on schools to find curriculum capacity for mentors can lead to the role of mentor becoming very mercenary and less vocational; it becomes less about the ‘right person’ and more about the ‘available person’… The trouble with being a mercenary Mentor is that you don’t ask ‘Why’; you’re happy with ‘What’. If you don’t ask why, then you are passive, compliant. Compliance is the single greatest sin in educational development – it is unsound. By knowing the ‘why’, the ‘what’ has context; context helps inform dialogue and challenge preconceptions, generate new thinking, foster creative and critical thinking.

Coupled with this, the added pressures of new ITE requirements for mentor release will cause schools – understandably - to reflect on their capacity in very ‘real’ terms; the commitment is one that must come with consistency; inconsistent or inadequate mentor support is akin to no support at all, and potentially damaging to recruitment and – perhaps more importantly – retention. It is highly supported by research and evidence that the quality of professional working environments is an intrinsic part of sustained teacher effectiveness – far more so than simply throwing money and resources at problems – and these environments are sustained through clarity, openness and integrity; the role of mentor is one that needs to be seen and respected by the entire school staff body, and matched with the requisite levels of professional development support. With recruitment and retention in a seemingly unstoppable yet distressingly silent tailspin, we need more teachers. Those teachers need support. We need effective mentors.

If a school wants a lot of new teachers – perhaps to rebuild or to develop or grow – then it needs to find ways to support the mentoring process. Mentors must feel they are valued; they must be given time, space and support. In essence, becoming a mentor is the first step to becoming a leader of professional learning – you are supporting a teacher to get better and in doing so becoming better yourself.

Mentoring is the finest example of mutual, cost-effective and impactful CPD; value it, invest in it, develop it.

 

Hudson, P (2013) Mentoring as professional development: ‘growth for both’ mentor and mentee, Professional Development in Education, 39:5, 771-783

Ingersoll, R. M. & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring for beginning teachers; A critical view of the research. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 201-233

Sims, S et al (2023); Modelling evidence-based practice in initial teacher training: causal effects on teachers’ skills, knowledge and self-efficacy. Ambition Institute – accessed at https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/ambition-institute/documents/Modelling_practice_full_report_es2.pdf?utm_source=Website&utm_medium=Direct&utm_content=research_modelling_evidence_based_practice_es&utm_campaign=researchteam_2023

The National Roll-out of the ECF - a Mentor Perspective

Since the national roll-out of the Early Career Framework (ECF), it has become obvious that whilst the role of the mentor offers many personal and professional opportunities, it is not without its challenges. This has been felt both nationally and locally.

 

Mentors are offered their own development programme, alongside their Early Career Teacher (ECT). The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Teaching School Hub delivers this on behalf of our Department for Education (DfE) approved partner organisation. This is supported financially by the DfE for the funded ECF option. A mentor is offered 36 hours of training over two years. This is delivered using a blended model.

As mentors have embarked on this new journey, we have periodically sought the opinions of local schools and mentors. We have listened to the realities of school life in order to adapt and improve our approach to delivery.

Following a recent survey of our ECF mentors, we have established that 80% had prior mentoring experience before joining the ECF programme. This included initial teacher training and whole school training delivery. The responses showed that they are developing their understanding of the ECF framework and their role within it. They now have a good working knowledge of instructional coaching and deliberate practice, which they are striving to embed into their one-to-one meetings with their ECTs. This is particularly effective in schools where coaching is already rooted within the school culture.

We have been careful to deliver ECF mentor training on a phased basis to ensure that relevant networks are being developed.  This strategy has been welcomed by both ECTs and mentors. The latter have also reported a preference for a mix of face-to-face and online delivery options, as this flexibility has helped to meet the demands of school life in our area.

Overall mentors saw the value of their role through:

  • refreshing and reflecting on their own practice
  • learning from others
  • engaging with current educational research
  • developing their own leadership skills
  • complementing participation in the NPQ Leading Teacher Development.

88% of respondents would like to continue with the role and most would prefer to see an ECT all the way through their two-year programme.

It is undeniable that the initial roll-out of the ECF has highlighted some barriers to the daily implementation of the programme. When asked how the role fitted with their current commitments, mentors frequently cited workload as an issue. This has affected their capacity to deliver support to the level they would wish.

A recent independent review highlighted a clear correlation between pupil outcomes and teacher professional development[1]. It goes on to add that “teachers and leaders want more time dedicated to professional development, including follow-up, but workload pressures often prevent this (…) other school responsibilities intervene. In some cases, this meant that teachers and mentors were using a significant amount of their own time for professional development.” ECTs have an entitlement to protected time, in comparison with mentors who do not share this benefit.

Furthermore, in a year one evaluation of the national roll-out, the DfE noted the practical challenges to implementing the mentor role[2].  This has been exacerbated by their holding of multiple and competing responsibilities.

Going forward we are keen to respond to the barriers discussed above and improve our delivery to meet the demands placed on mentors. We will continue to enhance the flexibility of our local model.  Nationally, the DfE and their approved partner organisations are exploring the options to alleviate the pressures experienced by mentors. We have shared our views and those of our local mentors within this forum. We are confident that the pressures outlined above are being given serious consideration.

 

Lynne Birch

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Teaching School Hub Lead

 

 

[1] Independent review of teachers’ professional development in schools: phase 1 findings (May 2023). Available at: Independent review of teachers’ professional development in schools: phase 1 findings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (Accessed: 16th May 2023)

 

[2] Evaluation of the national roll-out of the early career framework induction programmes: annual summary (year one) (March 2023). Available at: Evaluation of the national roll-out of the early career framework induction programmes: annual summary (year one) (publishing.service.gov.uk) (Accessed 16th May 2023)