I would like to celebrate the way in which our strong and well-established ITE partnership was able to flex and deliver genuinely supportive and tailored support to schools in our local community during the pandemic. For example, we delivered extra training in reading and maths interventions to our Year 2 students so that they were able to offer targeted support to returning pupils in schools in the autumn term. After Christmas, when the country went back into lockdown following the first day of term, we were immediately able to draw upon our network of university staff and placement schools to not only place our Year 2 and Year 3 students in schools but adjust our placement guidelines so that schools were genuinely supported by the offer of flexible teaching. This included teaching small groups of key worker children in the classroom and online and virtual teaching to pupils at home. Overall, the strength and speed of our response has stemmed from the longstanding trust the university has built up over the years between us and our partnership schools.
In my experience ITE enables teachers to ‘TeachBest’ as it alternates time in schools with some ‘thinking time’ in university that is so crucial as they make links between theory and practice and develop a strong and resilient teacher identity. All our programmes are staffed by former teaching professionals who are able to guide students through the ups and downs of a challenging teaching programme, whilst benefitting from the perspective of standing outside of the day-to-day life of any particular school. An ITE programme therefore offers perspective, balance, and resilience-building as well as the full subject specific knowledge and skills, plus a clear focus on evidence-based education research.
In the post-pandemic landscape ITE partnerships have already benefitted from the robust university IT facilities that enabled us to move very swiftly online and deliver virtual lectures, workshops, and link tutor visits in schools without a hitch. We have been able to, for example, deliver mentor training within our partnership schools somewhat more effectively using the university online teaching classrooms.
I would like the DfE to support the BA undergraduate route into teaching by offering either bursaries or other financial support to students in financial difficulties. Many of our students are forced to support themselves with part-time jobs during the three years and this is a difficult challenge on what is a rigorous programme.
At the very least I would like the DfE to acknowledge the strength and depth of the university-based route into teaching.