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ITT Stories: Our People

Adam - The Cambridge Partnership

Hello I’m Adam, a graduate TCP teacher currently working as a Teaching and Learning Lead of Science, Art and DT at a large secondary school in Peterborough.

My journey with TCP started in 2015, when I was successful securing a salaried training place on the QTS course via the school I worked as a Cover Supervisor. The salaried route meant that I started teaching early in the year, with lots of support from my in-school mentor. For me, this was the best way to learn.

I made lots of mistakes and sometimes embarrassed myself in front of the class, but without this opportunity, I don’t think I would be where I am today. The Friday sessions at The Cambridge Partnership were great, as it was a chance to talk to other trainees about their week.

This also helped me develop different teaching strategies for the following week. Assignments were based around teaching and there was a lot of time for reflection which was a really helpful part of my development. I won’t lie, it was a tough year, but I came out a much more confident teacher.

In my NQT year I was appointed as Third in charge of Science, which allowed me to develop the KS3 curriculum and gave me my first taste at middle leadership. 3 years later I was promoted to the role that I am currently doing.

One aspect of my current role is leading on teacher training for Science, Art and DT teachers and working closely with the Cambridge Partnership trainees and professional tutors.

My TCP teacher trainee experience was one that I will never forget and my aim is to pass on this experience to the trainees I now work with.

Nicole - CTSN

When looking to train to become a teacher, I knew that I wanted a school-based training route as I prefer a hands-on learning approach rather than a university classroom-based approach.

After doing some research, I found CTSN and emailed to find out more about the routes they offered. I attended an information evening held by CTSN, which I would recommend to anyone thinking about studying with CTSN or completing a SCITT. I was able to find out about the different SCITT routes offered and ask all the questions that I had. I choose CTSN based on the support and information I received over email and at this information evening because I knew that I would be supported throughout my course.

I’m extremely grateful to all the opportunities given to me while training with CTSN, from having specialist teachers teach us about their subjects to visiting a range of schools. During both my placements, I was given a mentor to support my training. Both of my mentors were extremely supportive in many different ways, they always made sure I knew where to find resources, what schemes to follow and answered any questions I had. The mentors helped to tailor aspects of my training to suit my learning needs; this took place in our weekly mentor meetings.

During these meetings, we would look at the previous week and the teaching standards to decide on a target for the following week. This enabled me to progress as a teacher and develop my skills in order to meet the teaching standards. Not only did I feel supported from my mentor but the school as a whole, during both my placements I had a parallel teacher who also offered support, especially if my mentor was absent or not around at that time. The teachers were always very keen to help or assist and allowed me to observe any of their lessons.

My senior tutor was incredibly supportive throughout the whole course, especially answering any questions I had, no matter how silly they seemed. I felt nervous for my first formal observation, but my senior tutor made me feel at ease and it felt like she wasn’t there.

I knew I could always go to her with any problems and we had regular tutorials to make sure that I was on track to pass the course. She also made sure that I was supported during my placements and my mentor knew and understood her role.

I never felt like I would ever be good enough to become a teacher and there were times during the course where something didn’t quite go right. However, my mentor and senior tutor were always there to show me that teaching isn’t always perfect and pointed out all of the positives with my teaching. Without this support, I would never have felt like I would have been able to become a teacher.

Each week we had a core training day, this allowed us to learn from some of the best teachers in Cambridgeshire. These teachers were passionate about their specialist subject which made the training engaging and interesting. I really enjoyed the hands-on aspects of the core training, as we were able to experience lessons, activities and resources just as the children in our class would. There was a different focus for the core training each week and this related to any teaching we were going to do in the following weeks. I found this supported any planning I needed to do, and I was able to use my own learning in my planning and lessons.

As part of my SCITT, I also completed a PGCE. This showed me the importance of completing evidence-based practice and how I can use this to improve my own practice. Being an evidence-based practitioner is something that I will be able to take with me into my NQT year and beyond.

I’ve shared this experience with other trainees, we supported and guided each other through every aspect of the course. Each week we were able to discuss our teaching, placement and generally life. We celebrated each other’s successes and helped with any lows, teaching related or not.

I’m extremely grateful for all the support, learning and guidance I was given throughout my time with CTSN. I would highly recommend CTSN and a SCITT to anyone. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learned into practice. I am now teaching in a local Cambridgeshire school and enjoying my NQT year.

Tom - Teach East

After attending many teacher training programmes before Teach East, my mind was already made up, and it was almost down to Teach East having to impress me rather than the other way around.
However, they did just that and more. Despite having been accepted onto other teaching programmes, Teach East could offer something that no other provider at that time could – genuine staff that got to know you on an individual basis and support your own learning needs. Unlike larger providers, Teach East did not only provide the most up-to-date and outstanding practice, but also took into account your wellbeing and personal needs. All Friday sessions are carefully and considerably planned to ensure that they are engaging and meaningful - just as you would expect a teacher to do when delivering a lesson at school. 

If you’re still yet to make your decision on a teacher training provider, the answer is exceptionally clear. Teach East is one of the best in the area and I could not recommend it highly enough. Your training year is not easy but is made achievable and successful from the start, because of the fantastic directors, subject leads and external professional speakers.

Victoria - The Cambridge Partnership

I’m Victoria and I completed TCP SCITT course in 2019/20. I had no prior teaching experience (other than tutoring language) so I knew that I would be in a totally different position to many others. I need not have worried though as, although I had very limited teaching experience, it didn’t take long to discover that I was among a complete mixed bag of individuals, and it didn’t matter what your background was.

The TCP team made me feel at ease from the day of my interview and my relationship with them all blossomed as we went through the course. They are always available to help you with any worries, concerns or teaching scenarios that you are finding particularly tricky. The solid learning programme is tweaked year on year based on the feedback received (so make sure you give constructive feedback when it is requested ready for the next intake of students).

The year was full on, you go through a rollercoaster of emotions, but whilst the tasks seem endless I took the advice and managed a good work life balance which is key to success. For me, my SCITT year was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

If ever I speak to people looking to become teachers, I always speak highly of TCP and will continue recommending them.

My year was cut short in the classroom and I had to go online to teach due to COVID-19 which was extremely challenging, but I managed it! As an NQT it was incredibly tough, however I have not once regretted my decision to launch into a teaching career and look forward to the progressing in my teaching career.

Andrew - CTSN

Having worked in schools for 10 years, I was still unsure if teaching was for me and if it was, which training route to take. For me, the biggest benefit of this year has been the balance between time spent in school and the training provided on a Friday

Having had an informal discussion with a CTSN tutor, it was clear that they were keen to personalise my experience by allocating me placement schools that were close to home.  The different experiences have allowed me to look through different lenses at different approaches to education and curriculum styles.

I am fortunate that I have developed good relationships with both of my mentors.  The mentor plays a key part in supporting my development as a teacher throughout both placements whilst understanding the challenges of being a trainee teacher.  Additionally, there are a number of different people who are involved with personally supporting trainees through the program including the professional tutor, senior tutor, subject specialist links and the PGCE tutor.  Each have played a key part in supporting me with my classroom development, professional development and subject knowledge.  

Core training on a Friday forms the basis for the training theme for the following week.  Each Friday we have received excellent training on all of the curriculum strands, which are CTSN’s adaptation of The Teaching Standards.  This will ensure that I have the best possible chance of gaining QTS at the end of the year.  Each week we are set personalised tasks, to develop both our subject knowledge and curriculum knowledge.  There is also a themed piece of reading for the week, which helps to inform our practice in the classroom.

What has been clear from the outset is that we would all receive a bespoke experience, depending on our rate of progress, confidence and personal circumstances.  This has certainly been the case for me, and I feel as though the tailored tasks have helped me to develop as a classroom practitioner.  CTSN also provide a time-sheet which has helped to manage my workload and well-being.  Well-being is discussed every week at our weekly mentor meeting. Additionally, we have received training on this in terms of our own well-being and the students’.  A well-being tutor is also available if required. It is important to look after your well-being in what is a full-on but very rewarding year.

As my subject (Computing) is different to what my degree is in (Sports Science), I was hesitant as to whether I was making the right choice and what support would be in place to strengthen my subject knowledge.  I needn’t have worried about this as we receive training once a month with a subject specialist link.  This has been very useful in helping me apply the weekly theme specifically to Computing.  We also share ideas and resources with each other to help support one another.

I am fortunate that I have developed good relationships with both of my mentors.  The mentor plays a key part in supporting my development as a teacher throughout both placements whilst understanding the challenges of being a trainee teacher.  

In terms of assessment, I feel assured that the process is rigorous and fair.  Through evidence bundles, reports, Senior Tutor visits, observations and discussions, no stone is left unturned.  The feedback after each of my reports and evidence bundles has helped me to focus on areas of improvement and re-assured me that I am progressing well in all aspects of my training.

The PGCE course goes alongside the training year and in Term 1 helped me to develop my skills as a reflective practitioner.  This was assessed through four small essays (500 words). In term 2, we were given more flexibility to undertake an enquiry on a topic of our choice. This has helped me to improve or adapt one area of my teaching practice.

The whole experience has convinced me that I made the right choice to train through CTSN.  While things can seem quite overwhelming to begin with, they soon fall into place and I have been able to develop a regular routine which has helped me to manage my workload.

Megan - Teach East

The course has many strengths. Since getting together in July last year to begin the course together, it has been like one big family. With tonnes of support, lots of respect, and laughing.

I think it is safe to say that we have had such an enjoyable experience, of which for me, has been stress free, and enabled me to make the most of this journey towards achieving my QTS.

Friday sessions have been extremely useful, and beneficial for our learning within specific areas of the teaching profession. Subject days have allowed us to get together with our fellow subject trainees, to build supportive relationships, as well as share ideas. There has been a good balance of subject days, to Friday professional sessions; where the key speakers have been extremely informative, professional, friendly, and approachable. In addition to being experts in their field within the profession.

We have all been provided with endless support, no matter what time of day. I think I can speak for all of us to say that we have been able to be entirely true to ourselves, with the support of staff being extremely supportive and understanding, as they have guided us, and advised us in the direction of achieving our QTS.