You suspect that this occupation comes with as many responsibilities, hardships and unknowns as it does rewards, purpose and personal growth, and you are not entirely wrong. You feel, perhaps rightfully, daunted. From the outset, however, and above all else I would like to write here, CTSN made me feel like I was an equal partner alongside them as they supported me through my application, my training, and my transition to employment.
I have never felt judged or tested. I have never felt afraid to ask questions. I have never felt that my best interests, the interests of the school, and the interests of the SCITT were in conflict. From the schools that went out of their way to let me visit before applying and the interviewers who treated me like the colleague I aspired to be, to the mentors, tutors and other staff at both my placement schools and my future employers within the trust, I have always been made to feel that the process is designed to find the right fit for me as an individual, mutually benefitting both trainee and school.
This individualised focus is reflected in the range of pathway options, comprising combinations of salaried, non-salaried, full-time and part-time flexible options. These options allowed me to make the leap from my previous employment to pursue a career I felt passionate about, and the diversity of trainees on the course is testament to its effectiveness as an approach. It is truly one of its greatest strengths.
The breadth of experiences and backgrounds present has made weekly core training sessions a genuinely critical forum for debate and has consequently allowed for a strong social and professional network to form out of the core training groups.
Each week, targets are set centred on the learning from core training, and these help to guide and inform the weekly mentor meetings in school. These meetings anchor the theory from core training in your classroom practice and provide an opportunity for individualised target setting to tailor the course to your specific needs and circumstances. Core training is then further augmented by Subject Specialist Link (SSL) days, which provide the opportunity to critically apply and adapt the latest research from core training, alongside like-minded trainees and a highly experienced specialist in your subject, to the unique challenges and opportunities presented in your particular classroom.
In this way, whilst everyone’s course may look different, trainees are equally enriched by the experience of others and supported personally throughout their journey towards becoming an NQT.
Looking to the future, I of course cannot say with certainty the role CTSN will play in the rest of my career. However my experience to date gives me every reason to believe that my mentor, senior tutor, SSL, colleagues, fellow trainees and course providers will continue to show the unparalleled interest and concern for my personal and professional development and well-being that they have done thus far, and I them.
They will no doubt continue be an invaluable asset for as long as I am in the classroom and I can only hope that I am able to return the favour in kind, perhaps becoming a mentor or delivering training myself one day! And in the end, I suppose that is what school-centred initial teacher training is really all about.