October 2019 edition: Ark Teacher Training – Nurturing Early Career Teachers

Ark Teacher Training – Nurturing Early Career Teachers

Teaching is stimulating. You use your brain in numerous ways: as an academic, a communicator, a parent and an actor. Teaching makes your synapses fizz and crackle like a sparkler.

Those at the beginning of this exciting career have a lot of information to absorb: in addition to knowledge of subject, pedagogy and pupils, there are a plethora of new skills to master. As educators we understand cognitive overload, we know that in order to build a learner’s schema of knowledge we have to support them to process a few new pieces of information at a time.

But sadly, our understanding of this is often neglected when we try to educate adults. For too long, trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers have suffered in a survival of the fittest paradigm of teacher education, with their successful entrance into the profession feeling perilous. With twenty percent of teachers leaving in their first two years, we are all too aware of the dangers of this model.

For too long, trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers have suffered in a survival of the fittest paradigm of teacher education, with their successful entrance into the profession feeling perilous.

Leila Mactavish

At Ark Teacher Training, we welcome the introduction of the Early Career Framework. We understand that we have a responsibility, as custodians of future generations of teachers, to ensure that they are nurtured and protected. We deliver our offer working in close partnership with NTA (National Teacher Accreditation) as the Appropriate Body accrediting our induction, which ensures high quality robust assessment of progress and informs future professional growth and development.

Three key principals underpin our approach:

1. Develop new teachers’ sense of identity and moral purpose

Our mission in Ark is to ensure that all children, no matter their background, can be successful at school and go on to a university or career of their choice. Great teachers are the most effective lever we have for improving the life chances of young people (Hattie, 2015). We stand a much better chance of keeping new teachers motivated and in the profession, when they have a developed sense of their importance in public life and a clear identity as agents of social change. Martin Shevill, Senior Education Advisor at NTA, recently commented on the palpable sense of moral purpose amongst our new teachers when he attended a recent ATT graduation ceremony.

2. Provide new teachers with a coherent curriculum which develops knowledge of both subject and pedagogy

Just as a teacher’s role is to transmit powerful knowledge to children (Michael Young, 2014), our role as teacher-educators is to transmit powerful knowledge of subject, pedagogy and pupils to new teachers so they gradually develop the mental models used by expert teachers.
Our curriculum is intentionally planned from the training year to the end of induction. For example, we first introduce Willingham’s idea of cognitive architecture at the ITT summer school. We return to this theory mid-way through the NQT year, and again at the end of induction, by comparing Willingham with Didau and Rose. Re-visiting key ideas develops an increasingly complex understanding of powerful professional knowledge.

Our aim is for our new teachers to forge careers in education where they will be able to thrive. Our children deserve expert teachers, but this takes time to develop. Expertise is best understood as a mental model which guides decision and action in the following domains: path – towards the mastery of the curriculum; pupil – focussing on what children know and don’t know and on what motivates and concerns them; pedagogy – knowledge of how learning works, encompassing cognitive, emotional, social and cultural dimensions; and, self-regulation – knowledge of how to analyse, evaluate and iterate towards increasing impact. (Expert Teaching, Peps Mccrea 2018).

3. Give new teachers one bite-sized actionable step on which to work at a time

We are indebted to the work of educator and writer Paul Bambrick-Santoyo and his See-It, Name It, Do-It model of observation and feedback. Every week our new teachers work with an instructional coach to see a concrete model of the practice they need to develop, to punch their understanding by explicitly naming the technique, and do it by practising, there and then, with their coach intervening at the point of error. We unashamedly practise at Ark because we know that our children’s education is too valuable to be wasted by us getting it wrong.

‘The aspect of my training which has had the biggest impact on my development has been coaching and co-planning with my NQT lead,” says Beth, an NQT at Ark Blacklands Primary Academy in Hastings. "He has been able to identify which areas of my practice need developing and, through weekly action steps, support me in constantly improving’.

At Ark Teacher Training we recognise the need to invest heavily in a teacher’s early career, to ensure they are able to thrive in a profession of which they are proud.

Knowledge and the Future School, Michael Young, 2014
Expert Teaching, Peps Mccrea, 2018
Get Better Faster, Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, 2016

NTA is a wholly owned subsidiary of CST. Formerly NIPT, it was originally set up in 2013 at the request of the DfE, to provide a sector-led alternative to Local Authority NQT accreditation services. It is now the largest national Appropriate Body providing its primarily online service to schools and trusts of all types and phases, including a number of international schools and a growing number of School Trusts. See more about NTA here.