Maths Scholars, NQTs and support. What’s next?
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The Maths Scholars application is a rigorous process but almost all scholars talk about the benefits of such a process and the impact it has on their careers and subject knowledge. Scholars often talk about reasons why it was a great idea to become a maths teacher.
Yet the thing that bothers many people in education is the number of teachers who throw in the towel within five years of starting their Maths teaching careers. You might be amazed to discover that the significant number is based on figures gleaned in 2010. In fact, 30% of teachers who started their careers in state schools quit within five years. Therefore it is probably fair to say that we are looking at a teacher retention crisis.
Is there a solution to improving teacher retention?
Certainly schools have changed almost beyond recognition and education has faced pressures like never before in terms of results, curricular and student behaviour. So is there another solution? Could the places that train teachers do more to support their NQTs and throughout their early career stages?
Universities have a valuable balance between hands on experience and theory
Bearing in mind that many lecturers are ex teachers then surely there is an opportunity to support graduates and help them long after their teaching practices are complete. They have the balance between hands on experience and theory. Would they be able to add much as centres of good practice, flexibility, creativity and support. After all, it takes a lot of stamina and hard work to undertake teacher training. Once you have completed an NQT year what a waste to throw in the towel within five years? But we have to ask ourselves what is going wrong that so many fail to reach a decade as a teacher.
Ofsted has more emphasis on the transition phase
This week the Maths Scholars scheme was interested to see the views of Juliet Fern who is Associate Dean and Head of Teacher Education at the University of Bedfordshire. She feels there are a couple of options open for university teacher education teams to help teachers. She suggests that what she terms the ‘transition phase ’between initial teacher training and being an NQT needs additional support. This does not come as a surprise as Ofsted has actually placed more emphasis on this transition phase on universities rather than the schools themselves. This is not a surprise as schools are very stretched.
Strengthen the link between schools and universities
It is a surprise that all the good work undertaken in university has, historically been kind of ‘left behind’. It’s hard to stay innovative on a day-to -ay basis and therefore, for universities to remain involved makes sense. This is a way of universities strengthening a relationship that is already pretty intense.
Let’s talk about NQTs
The University of Bedfordshire has already undertaken this role. This means that a university dedicated NQT coordinator meets once a term with the local teaching school and also the three local authorities that take on 70% of their 200 NQTs. The purpose of this meeting is to talk about how the NQTs are fairing and also any specific issues or themes that the group might be facing. The mentors also have the opportunity to discuss the progress of their NQTs.
Let’s not lose more teachers
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This is a valuable line of communication and everyone’s perspectives are taken into account. This means the university is keep up to date with just what challenges are affecting new teachers and also give help and advice before any situation escalates and new teachers are lost to the profession.
Teaching can be a lonely experience but doesn’t have to be
Juliet Fern also suggests there is an additional way that universities can assist schools and help NQT retention. She feels the experience and accumulated knowledge of the university teacher education department could be used to benefit schools and teachers in general. After all, teachers are very good at literally emptying themselves out for their students but rarely have their own creative well replenished. Giving without receiving an element of nurturing is hard work and 76% of teachers polled said that the amount of work they are expected to do does affect their mental health. Teaching can be a lonely experience with people always busy and NQTs never sure who is the right person to confide in. This is where teacher-training institutions could help. Juliet Fern says that, ‘Opening up university departments to teachers could provide an alternative sounding board. If the desire is there from both sides, this could even develop into a mentoring system like that of the NQTs.
It would be interesting to know what past scholars and those who are about to start their ITT in September have to think about this idea. Do let us know.
Meanwhile the 2017/18 Maths Scholars Scheme has closed for this year due to unprecedented demand. However, we hope to be back in October 2017. Therefore our advice is to start researching your application now so you are ready early. For further information do go to our website where there is plenty of information about how to apply and what to expect.
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