The most important role of ITE providers is to encourage a wide range of people to take up a career in education, and support them with the tools to make this successful. The recruitment crisis of the past decade has left us with real staffing challenges, which is why myself and my school are always excited to partner with a range of ITE providers to help colleagues start their teaching journeys.
Initial Teacher Education partnerships are core to our ability to continue to innovate in schools, as well as to ensure there is a future for high quality public education in the UK.
I am particularly passionate about celebrating the partnership my school has with London Metropolitan University, as this partnership has produced great teachers, some of whom still work at my school.
As a graduate of modern history, I was extremely fortunate that Alan Benson agreed to accept my application to the Maths PGCE at London Met. If Alan had not taken a risk on me, it is unlikely that I would be a teacher today. He enabled me to develop my subject knowledge through the summer SKE course, and took the time to give us a deep grounding in a range of pedagogical literature. This was also a great introduction to group working, which is so important to curriculum development as a teacher.
Alan has developed a commitment to share his insights concerning London’s unique context as a superdiverse city. This sense of teachers as servants of their community is reflected in the diverse range of colleagues training at London Met, which increasingly helps teachers reflect the school community in a really tangible and valuable way.
Alan’s approach to teaching and learning in London, as well as his devotion to constructivist knowledge models, helped launch me on a successful career as a maths teacher. I have worked in Hackney for the past six years, and despite not having studied maths at university, I am in charge of one of the most successful A-Level maths teams in the comprehensive school system. This was only made possible by the investment of resource by the SKE & PGCE maths team at London Metropolitan University.
As part of my current role, I am proud to support teachers in their first year at the school, including those who are following ITE programmes. This means that myself and another colleague, who also trained at London Met, have been supported a trainee who is currently completing her PGCE with London Met. This has made me reflect on the specific things I gained from the London Met PGCE, including:
- An appreciation of the socio-cultural context of London schools;
- An understanding of the centrality that pedagogy and teacher beliefs have in developing one’s classroom practice;
- A deep appreciation of the value of formative assessment, and the importance of working with students’ prior knowledge to develop deeply-rooted understanding;
- And a conception of teaching as a way to promote equity in a deeply unequal society.
When thinking of the post-pandemic landscape, it is vital to understand that the staffing and educational crises we are now facing have been developing for some time. The chronic underfunding of public education, and the shocking attacks on the teaching profession in the tabloid press, has left us understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with the major upheavals of 2020-21. In this context, the thing that keeps teachers working is their sense of social accountability – working for their students, and a more equitable society. If ITE providers really want to contribute to the post-pandemic landscape, they must ensure that they equip their students with an understanding of the injustices and inequality endemic in London society, and so imbue them with a passion for serving their school communities. This is how ITE can lead to sustainable change for the most vulnerable children in our society, whose educational needs have been so affected by the pandemic.
Going forward, I would like the Department for Education to focus on recruiting the next generation of teachers, and motivating them to support student learning and achievement in the context of the current educational crisis.
I would also like to see the DfE bring back a requirement for ITE providers to teach about socio-economic inequity in education in the UK.
In terms of support, I would like to see the government do more to incentivise schools to form partnerships with ITE providers.