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Teach First attenuated? Perceptions of a ‘distinctly different’ teacher training route from within the

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Presentation on theme: "Teach First attenuated? Perceptions of a ‘distinctly different’ teacher training route from within the"— Presentation transcript:

1 Teach First attenuated? Perceptions of a ‘distinctly different’ teacher training route from within the mentoring crucible. @David_Cameron76 @TakeOnPhysics David Cameron Institute of Physics

2 Outline Teach First: a distinctly different route Mentoring and school-based ITT Research questions Conceptual framework: the mentoring crucible Methodology Summary of findings Illustrative examples Conclusions Implications

3 Teach First Described by Ofsted as ‘distinctly different’ (2008) A variant of other employment-based teacher training routes Several distinctive features: – A central mission with three elements: Socio-economic disadvantage High achieving graduates -> teaching Leadership development – The Summer Institute – A national ‘brand’ with national and regional management – School placement process – Enhanced support for trainees from university tutors – Cost

4 Teach First: analysis Evidence of positive impact by TF trainees and teachers – Positive contribution to schools and children’s learning (Hutchings, et al., 2006b) – Positive impact on pupil achievement; larger impact with more TF teachers (Muijs, et al., 2010) Has attracted criticism over: – Cost of the programme (Savage, 2012) – Implications for teacher professionalism (Leaton Gray & Whitty, 2010) – Perceived reproduction of middle-class privilege (Smart, et al., 2009) Small numbers (2012-13, c.2.75% of ITT in England), large visibility and weight, often cited as exemplar in ITT

5 Mentoring and school-based ITT Initial teacher training (ITT) is becoming increasingly located in and the responsibility of schools, rather than higher education institutions (HEIs) A trend since the 1970s, supported by all successive governments Mentoring has shown to be central to ITT outcomes, especially school-based or employment-based routes (Hobson, et al., 2009) Mentoring most variable element in the quality of ITT programmes (Hutchings, et al., 2006a) – James Report (1972) – DES circular 3/84 (1984) – Elton Report (1989) – Articled Teacher Scheme (1990) – DFE circular 9/92 (1992) – School-Centred ITT(1994) – DFEE circular 10/97 (1997) – Graduate Teacher Programme (1998) – ‘Training Schools’ (1998) – DFES Requirements for ITT (2002) – ‘Teaching Schools’ (2010) – School Direct training routes (2012)

6 Research questions I sought to explore the process of mentoring in the Teach First programme What – if anything – is distinctive about this process and how do those involved in mentoring Teach First trainees perceive and relate to the Teach First programme? – Actions, identity construction, epistemological frameworks…

7 Conceptual framework: the mentoring crucible Derived from the theoretical traditions of: – Schön, Kolb, Brookfield, Mezirow, Daloz, Eraut, Knowles, Lave & Wenger, Cunningham – Relating to learning, adult learning, work-based learning and teacher training/mentoring.


9 The mentoring process… The mentoring process can be understood as a complex interaction between trainee teacher and mentor, in which both are involved in a reflective cycle of learning which is constantly moving between action, knowledge, experience, cognition and decision-making. It is a process involving professional adults, and thus relies on the trainee teacher’s orientation to learning but also the mentor’s greater knowledge and experience to facilitate the process, which may involve challenging the trainee’s preconceptions of teaching and what it is to be a teacher; it is work-based learning, unstructured and not limited to formal or scheduled events or meetings but occurring throughout the school- based experience. The mentoring process occurs around and between the competing pressures and priorities of the school in which it is set, and is held within a substantial structure of ‘architectural support’.

10 …as a crucible Like the mixing of molten metals within a crucible, it can seem to be chaotic, intense, challenging but is ultimately a creative and, in an alchemic sense, a transformative process; it is not a specific mechanism, but rather the intangible, transient, unsystematic, non-linear and unstructured space between words and actions where a new teacher’s professional identity is forged.

11 Methodology Part of a wider research project Mentor Interviews – 11 phone interviews with Teach First mentors London and Yorkshire & the Humber Mostly ‘professional mentors’ – e.g. AHT, DH – Sampling: various methodological implications Information-oriented selection Paradigmatic cases Motivations for accepting invitations

12 Summary of findings (1) Mentors did perceive certain elements of the Teach First programme as distinctive: – Academic profile & qualities of the trainees – Low retention: large investment by the school for 2 years in the classroom – Summer Institute: ambivalent about its outcomes – TF placed higher expectations and pressures on trainees – Support provided by HEI tutors was important and based in personal relationships

13 Summary of findings (2) However: – Mentors perceived the TF ‘mission’ as incidental – The centrality of the school: its approaches, philosophy and circumstances dictated the nature of mentoring – Teach First is one of many routes the school is working with in ITT – No ‘Teach First model’ of mentoring Teach First trainees – School as corrective to the excesses and deficiencies of the Summer Institute – Mentors excluded from some elements of the TF programme (Summer Institute, recruitment and placement) – A diversity of actions, approaches and conceptual constructions of mentoring seen in the schools.

14 Illustrative quotes (1) ‘We could not have recruited people from Oxford and Cambridge with firsts and two-ones in their subject areas… we didn’t have that kind of profile.’ (Isabelle) ‘They go through a rigorous screening process, they’re not just looking for somebody with good qualifications, but in terms of their philosophy about education… They’re excellent learners. They react very positively to constructive feedback.’ (Edward) ‘We feel we’re very lucky with our five participants but already we’re wondering how many of them will actually stay in teaching, we reckon that only two will stay, which is a shame because… it is a lot of time and it is a lot of resources and a lot of effort.’ (Charlotte)

15 Illustrative quotes (2) ‘The one thing I don’t like is the wind-up they do on the Summer School, in terms of the impact they’re going to make. Well, that’s not going to happen in the first six months. Sometimes that’s quite a shock for them. Apparently it’s a bit “rah-rah”, the Summer School.’ (John) ‘I came across people this year who didn’t have a clue how to write a lesson plan, and I just thought, you’ve just spent six weeks together in the summer, what on earth did you do?’ (Helen) ‘I’ve realised what it is they have to do, the expectations of the lesson planning, the essays they’ve got to produce, the commitment they’ve got to show to teaching… The expectations made upon them are so high that… it’s difficult if they’re having a bad period… I do find myself saying to people that they can’t have a life or any kind of baggage because life can’t get in the way.’ (Helen)

16 Illustrative quotes (3) ‘We contribute to it [the Teach First mission] in regards of, you know, working in a school where I’m here for the kids, I’m here for them to do better, to aspire and have ambitions. I do that regardless of Teach First.’ (Georgia) ‘And after school we run… what we call DIAL, it’s “Drop In And Learn”, and all my NQTs, GTPs and Teach Firsters, beginning teachers, whatever I’ve got, and more experienced staff who wish to join, so to session which are facilitated by my AST.’ (Isabelle) ‘They come in very driven and idealistic, so I’m a bit of a reality check. I give them some advice that’s quite comforting for them to hear, because they’re quite naive in many ways.’ (Brian) ‘The school is much more practical and much more, you know, the realities of that theory. We kind of shape that, but… we make them bespoke. It’s got to be very bespoke to that school because there will be particular aspects of that school that’s going to impact on their teaching and learning.’ (Brian) ‘It’s quite an unusual situation, where someone’s coming into your school, they’re a trainee teacher but they’re going to take on 80% of a timetable and stay with you for two years, and it’s someone you’ve never met.’ (Helen)

17 Conclusions (1) The conceptual framework: – Different approaches to mentoring; different views of Teach First. – Different identity construction as teacher- mentor; different mentoring process – Different trainee teacher identity construction?

18 Conclusions (2) With the school and the mentoring process taking such an important role in the shaping of the Teach First trainee’s professional identity, there is a likelihood that the distinctiveness of the Teach First programme – particularly the Summer School, the messages it delivers about the Teach First mission, the expectations for change placed on trainees and the emphasis on leadership skills as well as teaching practice – is diluted or attenuated as the mentors work with different models of teacher education, or even subverted if the mentors are not personally or professionally aligned with the programme.

19 Implications For how Teach First engages with schools and mentors For how Teach First is, will be or should be funded and managed For how Teach First mentors and trainees can use these findings to reflect on their own practice and professional development

20 Many thanks David Cameron Institute of Physics @David_Cameron76 @TakeOnPhysics

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