from the chalk face News from Shires TSA ITT

Amy Page - Assistant Head, Programme leader for ITT at Shires TSA

Well, we've made it! With two terms under our belts, trainees (and teaching staff) across the alliance enjoyed a well-earned rest at Easter. For those of you reading this now, about to embark on your 'teaching journey', Easter might feel a long way away!

As an alliance, we continue to thrive and develop. We have the exciting opportunity of being able to extend our 'Shires family' for teacher training and can now confirm that new schools will be offering places next year - St Benedict's Roman Catholic School and Myton School, Coventry. We will also be developing our Primary teacher training programme for 2019 entry.

Recently, it has been a pleasure to read the Spring reports for our School Direct trainees, all of whom are making great progress across the Teaching Standards. Most impressively, 60% of current trainees have either been offered a job or will be completing interviews over the next few weeks. The reports clearly reflect their progress within schools but also how the Professional Studies days have impacted on their own teaching and academic work at University. They also reflect the wide range of experiences our trainees are being offered while working within the alliance schools - from running yoga classes to accompanying trips, the trainees have had a wealth of experience this term!

Current recruitment for 2018 - 2019 is strong. We have received a record number of applicants and all interviews/ school experiences are progressing well. Anecdotal evidence from successful trainees cite the 'warm feeling' they felt on interview day and 'the focus on effective mentoring and work-life balance at the heart of the professional studies programme' as key aspects for choosing to train with the Shires Alliance.

As always, whether you are at the start of your journey or have successfully made it through interview stages, please do not hesitate to contact us with further questions and/ or thoughts.

Updates from this term:

It has been another busy term for our trainees, balancing their university assignments, integrating into their second school experience, taking on new classes and completing a new array of Professional Studies sessions across the alliance.

January sessions kicked of with a focus on 'New Year, New You?' - a reflective session where trainees worked with Amy Page (Programme Lead) at Studley High School, to reflect on their journey so far.

The trainees have visited Stratford Girls' Grammar School to explore the effective use of data, and Welcombe Hills (a special educational needs School in Stratford upon Avon). Other experiences this term include a road trip to The Education Show at the NEC and a visit to Ninestiles Academy in Birmingham to explore the planning and provision for EAL (English as an Additional Language) pupils. They have also completed a second session with our life coach - GuruYou - to explore mindfulness and a review of effective strategies to ensure a work-life balance.

Feedback from the trainees continues to be overwhelmingly positive, citing the main benefits of 'learning from teachers who live, breathe and action the ideas that they share'.

Next half-term will prove to be just as exciting with visits to Alcester Grammar School, to reflect on effective marking and a second session on transition work, an assignment support session at Studley High School and a session beginning to explore life as a Newly Qualified Teacher.

Focus piece - Marvellous Mentoring: Why is the Mentor so vital?

One of the main questions asked by applicants at the interview stage is 'what role do mentors play in a school-led teacher training programme?' We wanted to take the time to explore the role of a mentor and why it is so crucial to the success of our trainees.

What do we expect of our mentors? All mentors across the alliance take part in mentoring training, whatever level of their experience. As a trainee, you would expect to have a weekly mentor session and three observations with detailed feedback. Both mentor meetings and the observations are designed to be reflective in nature, ensuring your successes are celebrated and you are provided with tangible targets and areas to work on.

And what benefits do the mentors get from the process?! Stephanie Wood (MFL mentor at Stratford Girls' Grammar School) explains:

one of the added benefits of being a mentor means that it keeps you up to date with new educational and MFL developments and methodologies

Laura Wakefield (Maths mentor at Studley High School) explains:

I have always enjoyed being a mentor as it provides a sense of fulfilment by helping others develop. It is essential that you meet with your mentor every week and that it is dedicated time to talk through your achievements and challenges during the last week. This time can be difficult to maintain with busy school life, but ensure that you communicate frequently with your mentor if this isn't being adhered to. Sometimes it may just be a one off re-arrangement, but if you aren't having this dedicated time, you need to take control and ensure it takes place.

It is clear that mentor support is mutually beneficial and absolutely vital for trainee progression. Rest assured that our outstanding mentors, across the alliance, will support you through every triumphant hurdle.

Thoughts from a trainee:

Deciding which provider to choose when embarking on the challenging task of applying for Teacher Training is very daunting; it is a challenge in itself: making sure the personal statement is relevant, having some references, and then attending interviews. Whilst I was looking at all the options, I came across the Shires Alliance which was launching that same year. Being conveniently located for me and offering a good selection of secondary schools, I decided to apply there. I haven’t looked back!

Whilst the interview process is clearly terrifying, particularly having to teach a class of children when you’ve had zero experience, it turned into a surprisingly pleasant day. Both Tania Jordan and Amy Page were extremely welcoming and gave me confidence. I particularly appreciated the fact that they gave me immediate feedback, so I wasn’t left wondering and worrying.

I am now well over half way through the course, and whilst it is undoubtedly a challenging and trying year, the team at the Alliance has managed to pull us through our lows and always done their best to ensure our experience is a smooth as possible. I know from talking to colleagues who chose a different route or a different provider, that we are extremely lucky to have a team who really cares for us; the programme is tailored to our needs and means I have been able to combine the high demands of the course with family life. Well, a little bit at least!

I would highly recommend doing training through the Shires Alliance. It really does feel like being part of a family, it gives purpose to training and means we will enter the profession in September with the best possible professional training!

Anna Ingram, Assistant Head, Head of Teaching School, Shires TSA

The Shires Teaching School Alliance is more than just a way of delivering ITT; it is a means of bringing schools together to strategically plan CPD opportunities and support each other through the use of SLEs (Specialist Leaders of Education) and coaching. Teaching Schools are now the main conduit for delivering school improvement. Central funding for this allows teaching schools to support individual institutions to become system leaders within themselves.

Both St Nicholas and St Mary’s Catholic School have been building leadership capacity through developing their leaders within their schools using our NPQML and NPQSL programmes. They have also supported other local primaries on key focus areas using their SLEs to work with colleagues and action plan to improve outcomes for pupils.

Meanwhile, Welford Upon Avon School are being supported by the Shires TSA to develop their teams through NPQ programmes and SLEs in order to become a teaching school. They are complimenting our secondary ITT programme with primary expertise and we will use this to strengthen our own offer.

Leadership development is key for all schools. The NPQ programmes we offer at middle and senior level are nationally recognised and awarded by the DfE. These allow colleagues to lead on an area of the school development plan for aspiring and new to role senior leaders ensuring that skills are developed and coaching is central to its success. The middle leader programme is key for those new to role and aspiring to become a middle leader. The programme explores how to build teams, reflect on your own leadership skills and practice to then develop further.

The Shires TSA is a community of schools whose collaborative open and transparent approach can be seen through Studley High and Stratford upon Avon School sharing an INSET day of working in subject teams to build collaboration and Alcester Academy supporting the delivery of a project on closing the gap with pupil premium children in the local area. We are able to use strengths from all our partner schools to enable progress and better outcome for all pupils, in all schools.


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