What is it like undertaking initial teacher training via the school direct route?
There are 2 types of School Direct route, salaried or non-salaried. As a graduate straight out of university, with no experience, I am following the non-salaried route. The non-salaried route is almost identical to studying for a regular university-led PGCE. The process for securing a place on the course involves one extra step, an interview with the teaching alliance or academy trust that is looking to train you. They will then recommend you to a university for their PGCE course, who will give you a second interview.
Many universities provide lists on their PGCE web-pages of the schools they work with to provide school-direct routes and this is how I came across my ITT-provider. Once you are enrolled and begin your training, the course is identical to that you would receive on a university-led route. I still attend lectures at UCL Institute of Education with student-teachers on the core university-led route; I complete the same coursework; and my PGCE tutor is from my university course. So why choose a School Direct non-salaried route?
1. Knowing your placement school: To my mind, this is the best benefit of a School Direct route. At some universities, the placement process can be quite opaque, and you may be left without knowing which school you will be placed at until a couple of days before starting. With School Direct, you are in control and you get to choose the schools you will be placed at and make sure they are a good fit for you. You will also know your placement schools well in advance of starting the course. This helps with some planning and peace of mind.
2. The support: Whilst I am still a full-time enrolled student at UCL, with tutors there looking after my development, with School Direct there is an extra layer of support. This includes a smaller cohort of student teachers, we’re all training at the same university, but we will all be working in the same schools in the alliance: it’s a nice, small group of people that you get to know even before you start you course so there will be some friendly faces when you start your placement. You will also receive support from the ITT co-ordinators at the teaching alliance, who organise meetings and socials to make sure you’re progressing well.
3. Jobs: School Direct providers tend to recruit student teachers on the basis that they expect vacancies to appear in the subject in which you are training. An employer is more likely to take on someone they have spent time training in-house, who already knows a significant amount about the ethos of the school, how its run, and the expectations of teachers.
All training routes with a PGCE and QTS will provide you with an excellent basis for becoming a great teacher, but I have so enjoyed my time on a School Direct Route so far. I highly recommend it to all and good luck with your training!
By Charlie Blake
New River Teaching Alliance/UCL Institute of Education
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