In the decade prior to embarking on ITE, I lived and worked in South East London while studying for a PhD in music. Alongside my studies, I participated in educational outreach projects, leading workshops for primary schools from areas with high levels of socioeconomic deprivation; I also taught clarinet and piano in a diverse South London comprehensive school.
After completing my PhD, I chose to train as a primary school teacher, and so finding a PGCE programme in which I could develop my expertise surrounding equality, diversity and inclusivity was a priority. I chose the programme at Newcastle University due to the research expertise of its academic staff in this area. The course’s combination of research-informed expertise and school-based experience has helped me to develop the understanding and adaptability necessary to become an excellent teacher.
I have had supportive and knowledgeable placement mentors who have helped me to refine my classroom skills and experience. But it is this support in conjunction with the university-based content that I believe will shape me as a teacher in the longer term. My first teaching job upon qualifying will be in a vastly different setting to my placement schools.
The training that I have received from my tutors at Newcastle University, which is built upon decades of classroom experience, research, and partnerships with local schools, has equipped me with the knowledge, critical thinking, and flexibility to adapt between settings with ease.
The threat posed to university-based ITE by the market review sits uneasily with me. The increased marketisation and government control of the ITT market risks sidelining content that is more enduring than a route dictated by the latest policy swings. For example, the proposed ITT course provided by the government’s new ‘flagship’ Institute for Teaching aims to equip all Early Career Teachers to deliver an ‘ambitious’, ‘knowledge-based’ curriculum.
Unsurprisingly, both of my placement schools have recently restructured their curriculums to align with the government’s educational priorities. For me, though, it is fundamental that nuanced understandings of pedagogy, educational theory, and broader issues of social justice underpin my practical experience.
As I step into a teaching career that will no doubt extend beyond the lifetime of the current government, it is the considered and more reflective approach offered by university-based ITE that will give me the critical apparatus I need to be an effective teacher.