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Quality teaching starts with quality initial training

Ashley Bartlett shares with us how OLEVI models and approaches have become an integral part of the Leicestershire Secondary SCITT, providing quality teacher training and professional development that ensures trainee teachers have the very best start to embark on their teaching journeys.

Rushey Mead Academy has been an accredited provider and a Designated OLEVI Centre (DOC) since 2013. Judged an ‘outstanding’ school since 2007, Rushey Mead is well placed to orchestrate the training of our next generation of teachers with an Alliance-led SCITT. 

As a Teaching School, Rushey Mead and its school partners have a long-standing tradition of engagement in Initial Teacher Training. The Leicestershire Secondary School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), based at Rushey Mead, was founded in 2013 with the specific goal of improving the quality of education for children across Leicester, and it is this that underpins the moral capital of all they do. They have developed their programme, and partnership of schools, so that they can offer the best possible start to a career in teaching. Children get one start to life and the members of the SCITT see it as their responsibility to give them the best start possible. 

Members of the Leicestershire SCITT pride themselves on getting to know each and every one of their trainees – their backgrounds, qualifications, skills and experiences. This allows them to tailor their offer to deliver exactly what the trainees need.  

Creating A Common Language

The SCITT’s management team has embedded a number of OLEVI approaches and models to the SCITT programme. The Programme Director, Davinder Dosanjh, has undertaken the OLEVI Power of Coaching (POC), and Development Manager Craig Benham, the OLEVI Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP). I, myself am a Designated OLEVI Person and QA Consultant. As a result of this engagement, the SCITT increasingly speaks the shared language of OLEVI and has made OLEVI programmes a central part of the development they offer, not only to their valued school-based Mentors but also to the ongoing development of their trainees as they become Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

The SCITT speaks often and unashamedly of its ‘moral capital’. From the first time a potential trainee makes contact, this will be clearly communicated to them. At interview, a facilitated round-table discussion takes place around the OLEVI Four Capitals, an often enlightening and reaffirming conversation that seeks to ensure that the potential trainees not only have the appropriate organisational, social and knowledge capital in place to embark on a demanding year of teacher training (and beyond) but also that they share the moral drive of the training provider.

Lead Subject Tutors (LSTs) are subject specialists and practising teachers within the SCITT’s partnership who provide subject-specific input for the SCITT trainees. The majority of this team has completed either the Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP), Outstanding Leadership in Education programme (OLE) or Outstanding Facilitation Programme (OFP). This grounding provides them with the knowledge and understanding to effectively construct each of their consistently highly evaluated sessions around OLEVI’s CSI (Challenge, Support, Impact) model. By focussing each session around an identified challenge for the trainees, such as developing effective questioning in their subject, there is a clear and agreed focus. LSTs then facilitate a session whereby they provide support for each trainee by highlighting tangible and practical strategies to address this challenge. The trainees then measure the impact of this input through reflection on their own developing practice via their Reflective Logs.

Reflection. The Art of Effective Practice

Reflection is a theme that is embedded throughout the SCITT. The members believe that the most effective practitioners are those who are most reflective and willing and able to evaluate their own practice but also that they, as an SCITT, should be ready to grow and respond to the ever-shifting educational landscape. Trainees are familiarised with OLEVI’s DR ICE as an evaluative tool against which the SCITT frequently evaluates elements of its provision. The employment of DR ICE has allowed the SCITT to become increasingly proactive in response to trainee needs, rather than reactive. Such is the power of DR ICE that trainees have taken it upon themselves to evaluate their lesson planning against it, often to great effect.

During placement, trainees are given two timetabled hours per week to observe experienced colleagues and learn from them. In order to truly value this process, trainees now learn from colleagues via OLEVI’s QFF model. The questions they ask of their experienced colleagues are Wisdom Accessing Questions (WAQs), so that they might identify the actions that led to the outcomes or behaviour they observed, in order that they might apply them to their own practice.

Ongoing Professional Development

Once the programme is completed, NQTs are invited back in the spring term of the following academic year to engage in the OLEVI Improving Teacher Programme (ITP), via Leicester Teaching School. This is now a well-established offer to effectively support the continuing professional development of our trainees. Evaluations from the SCITT graduates have been overwhelmingly positive, with a typical quote being, “completing the ITP has allowed me to effectively further develop my practice as an NQT”.

An integral part of the SCITT’s successful training of new teachers is the central role played by their school-based mentors. The Leicestershire Secondary SCITT adopted the National Mentoring Standards in 2017 in order to promote and develop the professional role of the mentor. To further support and develop these highly valued colleagues, experienced mentors and ITT Co-ordinators are offered the chance to undertake the OLEVI Power of Coaching (POC), not only as a ‘thank you’ for their commitment to the moral purpose of the SCITT but also to refine and develop their own skill sets when moving colleagues on. In addition to this, Middle Leaders in schools, who have supported the SCITT with placements for trainees, are rewarded with the OLEVI OTP, not only in recognition of their commitment but also to develop their skills for the benefit of them, their teams, their students and the trainees with whom they interact. Such has been the positive impact and enthusiasm for this highly regarded programme that schools have supported colleagues not associated with the SCITT to attend them subsequently. 

The Leicestershire Secondary SCITT feels fortunate to be in the position to make OLEVI programmes and models a significant part of their on-going development, for the benefit of our valued colleagues and, more importantly, the young people of Leicester.

Ashley Bartlett, LS SCITT management team, Designated OLEVI Person
and QA Consultant