School centred initial teacher training (SCITT) is precisely what its name suggests: training in school to work in school once qualified. The taught course is delivered in the training suite which is on the top floor of a busy primary school. Lectures, seminars and activities are often punctuated by the sound of real children engaged in real learning. What a SCITT recognises is the capacity of schools and the teachers who work in them, to make a significant contribution to the professional education of those wanting to enter their ranks (Hagger and McIntyre 2006).
The schools (see consortium schools) that make up the Wandsworth Primary Schools’ Consortium have each been selected on the basis of the high quality, inclusive education which they offer their pupils. Trainees are guaranteed a place in at least two of these for their school experience. Consortium schools are spread geographically across the borough (the largest in inner-London): two bordering on Streatham, another close to New Covent Garden Market, one near Putney Bridge, others near Clapham Junction and Balham stations. The characteristics of the schools are as varied as their locations and trainees are carefully placed as far as possible according to the stengths and experience of both parties. Many of the schools employ teachers who have qualified via SCITT and some of these enjoy teaching aspects of the course and acting as school-based mentors. There is an ongoing professional development programme for all our mentors which supports them as they progress through their own career.
Prior to starting the taught course, all trainees complete a 5 day observation period in school.
In the Autumn term, Phase 1 is a paired placement in the alternative key stage enabling trainees to learn and observe with one another, to plan together and deliver lessons jointly and individually.
In the Spring term, Phase 2, trainees are placed individually with their preferred age range and work towards gaining experience of teaching and planning for lessons.
In the Summer term, Phase 3, trainees stay with that class and gradually assume full responsibility for the teaching and management, with opportunities to assess, level and report on children’s progress.
By the end of the year all trainees will have had experience across two Key stages and are fully prepared to teach either 3-7 year olds, or 5-11 year olds. Flexibility and recognition of individual’s strengths and preferences are a hallmark of our programme.
We place each trainee very carefully taking into account:
- any relevant previous experience
- parental/carer responsibilities
- prior connection with a school e.g. as a teaching assistant or former parent
- ongoing connection with a school e.g. as a parent or governor
- experience and personalities of the mentors available.