New teachers are ‘going Dutch’ to improve skills at BTSA

Trainee teachers are ‘going Dutch’ after being offered a unique opportunity to sample lessons at schools abroad.

BTSA is giving people the chance to spend a week in Holland as part of their training to become primary school teachers.

This year’s student teachers were the first to undertake the international placement and it proved such a success that it will now be an annual feature of the PGCE programme. During their trip, the group spent time at Zwolle University, observed lessons in several schools and met trainee teachers from 10 other European countries.

A unique experience

Gill Latos, Deputy Director of the teaching school, which is based at Longton’s Belgrave St Bartholomew’s Academy, said: “It’s unique. We don’t know of anywhere else in England offering this kind of international opportunity. The trip to Holland helps them question and reflect on things in schools in this country. It makes them think about children’s ownership of the curriculum, in particular.”

BTSA is part of a growing network of teaching schools, which coordinate teacher training, lay on professional development courses for serving teachers and offer support to struggling schools.

Thirty trainees were taken on this year and they have been placed in 26 schools across Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and Cheshire East.

A word from past trainees

Sophie Deaville, who has just been offered a job at Newstead Primary Academy after completing a placement there, said: “The attraction of the programme is the time we get to spend in schools.

“It’s been intense, but the support has been brilliant.”

The 25-year-old, from Longton, has spent four days a week training on the job in school. The rest of the time has been split between learning the theory side of teaching at Derby University and working in the training hub at Belgrave St Bartholomew’s.

Sophie was also one of the first trainees to visit Holland and found it a valuable experience.

She was struck by how much independent learning Dutch primary pupils undertake. In one school, the children were given their work for the week on a Monday morning and could choose when to complete it.

“The girls tended to get it done early and the boys left it until later,” she said.

“I’ve brought some of the ideas I saw in Holland back with me.

“I’ve given children a research area in the classroom, where they’ve looked at different topics and created a poster.”

“They have than shared their research with the class.”

No Video. Education / News. Wednesday 15th July 2015. Longton Trainee Teachers. I’m writing an education supplement feature on the work of the Britannia Teaching School Alliance, which coordinates much of the teacher training, professional development and expert support for primary schools across Stoke-on-Trent. Based at Belgrave St Bartholomew’s Academy, in Longton, its approach is pretty unique as trainee teachers have the chance to spend a week of their training in Holland. I’ve arranged to interview some of the trainees on Wednesday when they are next in school (my interview is at 10am, but as there’s no photographer free at that time, the picture has been set up for 2.30pm). Address: Belgrave St Bartholomew’s Academy, in Sussex Place, Longton. Telephones: Assistant director Gill Latos on 235523. Pictured left to right: Hanna Edwards, Mattb Hammersley, Sophie Deaville, Gill Latos and Deborah Law.

Fellow trainee teacher Deborah Law, from Weston Heights, has also been keen to learn from the Netherlands. The 46-year-old said: “There are things you can import, particularly with early years teaching. You spend a lot of time outside, but children just use plastic tools here.

“In Holland, they use real tools and more natural materials, such as things created from wood.”

Deborah, who has just done her main training placement at Weston Coyney Infants’ School, said the course has given her lots of different teaching techniques.

Another trainee, Hannah Edwards, has also found a school-based rather than university-led training route much more hands-on. The 27-year-old, from Sandbach, said: “It’s more bespoke. We’ve also had sessions at the training hub on topics such as autism.”

A focus on Continuous Professional Development

Although the 30 trainees are moving on to permanent jobs, many will continue to have contact with the teaching school. Part of the alliance’s work involves monitoring the coaching and mentoring which newly qualified teachers receive in schools. This year alone, it has overseen support for 120 newly qualified staff across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.

These recruits have included George Barlow, who has just finished his first year as a teacher at Belgrave St Barthomolew’s.

The 27-year-old, from Sandyford, said: “The great thing is that support doesn’t end after your training year.”

The article can be viewed on The Sentinel website here.

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