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Press Release - 24 October 2005

Swindon is solving its teacher shortage

A local teacher training scheme which trains teachers primarily for Swindon schools is celebrating completing its second successful year and the appointment of a new manager.

A joint venture between local head teachers, the University of Bath in Swindon and the LEA, the School Centred Initial Teacher Training scheme (SCITT) has had huge success in addressing the shortage of teachers in Swindon’s secondary schools.

“The recruitment figures tell the story of the scheme’s success,” said Bryn Harrison, the new course manager. “Since its launch in 2003, we have placed 30 qualified teachers in Swindon schools.”

Bryn, aged 49, joined as manager in September. He has 28 years of teaching experience, most recently as Assistant Head at The Commonweal School, in Swindon.

“By providing a route into teaching we have been able to meet the needs of the local people,” he said. “However, it’s not just local needs we are addressing – all our graduates are qualified to teach a subject area considered by the Government to be a national shortage subject.”

Graduates of the full-time, year-long course are awarded Qualified Teacher Status and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. The PGCE is validated by the University of Bath. Students spend four days a week on placement within a school and one day attending lectures and seminars at the Oakfield campus.

“Our trainees spend a great deal of time in school. We find it’s not just the trainees who benefit from this but that it also provides an opportunity for professional development for the in-school mentors,” said Bryn.

The age of trainees on the course has ranged from 21 to 60 years. It teaches the five shortage subjects: English, Science, Design & Technology Maths and Information & Communication Technology.

Case studies:
Fiona (aged 23) graduated in June. She now has a permanent position in the Science Department at Warneford School, Highworth where she did her main SCITT placement.

“Not only was the SCITT course local to me, it also provided the most effective way to learn about teaching,” said Fiona. “Going into a school on placement throws you in at the deep end but it means you get to learn from people who do it as a job.

“Being able to spend four days a week observing teachers, who all have an individual teaching style, means you already know how you want to teach by the time you graduate.

“I always wanted to teach in my home-town, and by doing a placement locally I was in a much better position to get a teaching job here. Loads of other people on my course did the same thing and we’re all settled in local schools.”

Joe (aged 42) joined the SCITT scheme six weeks ago. Previously he had worked as an Assistant Minister in a Baptist Church. He is doing his practical training in the Science Department at Churchfields School.

“I was apprehensive about going back into academic study after so long,” said Joe, “but because I get to spend most of my time in school I can learn through observation and hands-on experience.

“The trainees on the course come from a huge range of backgrounds and all go on to learn different things during their placements. We’re a real team already and share our experiences so that everyone can benefit from them.”

Joe commutes daily from his home in Reading. “I did look at other courses nearer to home but Swindon just felt right. It has a progressive LEA that provides a huge amount of support for new teachers and there’s a real enthusiasm amongst local heads of schools. If I was offered a job in Swindon I wouldn’t turn it down.

“SCITT provides the opportunity for a very adult education. The onus is on you to make the most of your time on placement. It’s a course that really makes it happen for people.”

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