As a very small school I make trainee teachers a focus around every third year. We don't have capacity every year. We have two students when that is our priority and I throw myself into all things Chrischurch to make sure they get the best partnership between us and University. I am passionate about trying to get it right from the outset so that the drop out rate improves among new teachers. I interviewed there for next year's trainee teachers this week and deviated from the set questioning on two points:
'How well do you deal with frustration about the system and why do you think so many new teachers drop out?'
'Do you aspire to be a Headteacher?'
I think these two questions are essential indicators of resilience now and of realism about our profession. Of course I wouldn't expect most applicants to teacher training posts to see themselves as a Headteacher (I didn't!) but aspiring is different. We need resilient, sparky folk who want to be in it to win it. I'm not saying everyone should be a Head either, of course not. To maintain life as a high performing teacher is as hard as the job of Headteacher.
I also had the privilege this week of observing and interim grading our final practice trainee teacher alongside her University link tutor. She is outstanding. She is a joy to behold. She also has a work rate that is second to none and is reflective. She had graded herself cautiously and we upped many of her grades.
The link tutor and I had a bit of conflict though over children putting their hands up. Her point of view was that the trainee teacher shouldn't be asking for hands up. I pointed out that we use hands up as a school strategy. That's not all we use, the pupils know we don't always choose those with hands up. There is a lolly stick mug so those that don't put up hands know that if the teacher is holding the mug they'd better try & think of an answer if their hand isn't up. But that isn't used every time.
I see this dislike of hands up as another easy thing for people outside of day to day school life to take a dislike to based on bits of research. Children love putting their hands up! Why wouldn't you sometimes ask the child who has their hand up so much they might pop? Why wouldn't you occasionally give the child who doesn't like putting their hand up a safety break?
It's quite obvious my childrens' school use hands up as on occasion my children raise their hands at home! They are an outstanding school, and not just in Ofsted terms.
So, I fought my trainee teacher's corner on that one and won. The link tutor is excellent actually and I know she is just balancing what our trainee may find in the culture of other schools once she is employed, where perhaps the show of hands has been vilified as ancient practice.
I think this type of discourse is so valuable though and I worry that without a University provision and discourse between school and University link tutor the quality of provision for training isn't there. We have had our County ITE program given 4 by Ofsted recently http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/index.php?q=filedownloading/&id=2429679&type=1&refer=0
The teaching schools are all developing provision but, as yet, I can't see the comparison between them and an established ITE provision. In my view Christchurch have an entirely different mindset to that which a teaching school has capacity for, particularly when it comes to educational research and research based discourse with schools.