What is it like undertaking initial teacher training via the school direct route?

Tom BunnThere are several different routes that can lead to obtaining QTS. From the traditional University based PGCE, to the Teach First program, it is easy to find a training course that caters to you. For me, that route was “School Direct”. 

For those that aren’t familiar, the School Direct route is school led Initial teacher training. It is run in partnership with a lead school and accredited teacher training provider. The fundamental difference to traditional teacher training is that you work in schools for the entire year opposed to spending the initial months in university lecture halls. This immersive training method is perfect for individuals that learn best in a practical environment. Personally, after completing my Mathematics BSc, I was tired of traditional lecture halls and theoretical learning. Moreover, prior to my undergraduate study I had worked in a wonderful school in south Birmingham for a year. A culmination of this and other factors led me to the conclusion that the School Direct route was the best fit for me. 

I am now 3 months into my training and I am finding my time fulfilling, enriching and educational. Getting into my base school from the first day enabled me to establish positive professional bonds with the staff. Furthermore, it meant by the time the pupils arrived in schools (after staff training days) I had been able to get used to the building and develop a basic knowledge of the school’s scheme of work. For the first two weeks, I was given the opportunity to observe numerous members of staff with each year group. This was an amazing experience and meant that I was able to get to know pupils and watch specialists educate pupils in effective ways. 

Generally, School Direct programs are catered around the individual. I found myself keen to get teaching as soon as possible, but it was made clear that if I hadn’t felt comfortable then support was on offer to build up teaching hours at whatever rate best suited me.

The biggest surprise for me about School Direct was the quality of theoretical learning. I am doing my training with Bishop Challoner Training School Alliance and their dedication to educating trainee teachers is what underpins their immensely successful teacher training. From Rosenshine to Maths specialised researchers like Craig Barton, there is a rich diversity of research and learning opportunities.

I would encourage everyone to look into different teacher training schemes to work out what is best for them. But, for the best all round experience, I would definitely suggest School Direct. This is especially for prospective teachers who have either worked in education or are going through a career change. 

By Tom Bunn


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