Training spaces must inspire the next generation of teachers

Written by: The Learning Escape | Published:
The Teacher Training Centre at Sacred Heart Primary School (Photo: The Learning Escape)

During the last Parliamentary term, highly gifted and experienced teachers have been leaving in their droves, worn down by the relentless pressure to churn out data which Ofsted will like.

At the other end of the spectrum, latest figures suggest that 4 in 10 newly qualified teachers quit the profession within their first year. It is no surprise that there is a significant shortage of qualified teachers, at a time when pupil numbers are rising year on year, with no let-up in sight.

Difficult waters for headteachers to navigate, although there does seem to be assistance lurking on the horizon as many parties are pledging to invest in teacher training.

While we can have no way of knowing who will win the election, the end result will almost certainly be another coalition. Furthermore, with the surge in support for the minor parties, the likeliest consequence will be a dramatic increase in their influence. So the Learning Escape have taken a close look at what everyone is pledging, to see if there are any common threads.

While it is undoubtedly worth having a look at both the major parties (and, of course, the Lib Dems who would seem to be paving the way for an alliance with either) we should also be mindful of the other players most likely to align themselves with Ed Miliband.

The Labour party can rely on three votes from Northern Ireland's SDLP (an ideological stablemate), one from the Greens, and one each from George Galloway and Lady Hermon: support from Plaid Cymru is also likely. Neither Ed nor David seem to be too keen on forming a relationship with UKIP or the SNP, although Labour may need to back pedal and buddy up with Nicola Sturgeon, depending on the Scottish outcome.

Of course, most parties are committing to "maintaining" educational spend, with various definitions and caveats and a vague allusion to accommodating rising pupil numbers. However, almost all (apart from the Conservatives who remain on their free school trajectory, and UKIP) are keen to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Labour is pledging to ensure that every teacher, in every classroom, in every state school in the UK, will be fully qualified. Likewise, the Liberal Democrats are promising that the core national curriculum will be taught by qualified teachers in all schools and the Greens broadly echo the sentiment.

Labour is also committed to offering teachers more opportunities to build their skills via quality training and, similarly, Plaid Cymru have a general desire to improve training for experienced and qualifying teachers alike.

So, with a majority of the minors itching to increase both the quantity and quality of training offered to teachers, it is fairly likely that it will become a policy reality during the next Parliamentary term, particularly if Labour head up the coalition.

Needless to say, there is a widespread reluctance to actually qualify what is meant by training or to quantify how much is likely to be spent on it. However, there will undoubtedly be a need for investment in both training facilities and staff.

It is more than possible that much of the initial programme will follow the national teaching school ethos, whereby professional development is school based and classroom focused, as was the case for one of the Learning Escape's most recent projects.

Our customer, Sacred Heart Primary School, was appointed as a national teaching school, following its outstanding Ofsted inspection. As the existing school buildings were full to capacity with pupils, the school needed to build a teacher training facility, within the school grounds, but were keen to achieve a degree of separation from the activities of the main school.

The Learning Escape have long held a belief the buildings in which we are taught can have a significant impact upon, not only our mood and general wellbeing, but also upon how we behave and how well we learn.

However, it is not only students who benefit from an inspirational learning environment and we would like to invite you to take a look at the testimonials of both Sacred Heart Primary School and Willows Primary School, who wanted a more flexible space that could be enjoyed by the wider school community when not in use for staff training.

It was great to hear from Sacred Heart that so far 100 per cent of delegates have deemed the space, with its outlook onto the beautiful school grounds and its fantastic natural lighting, to be the perfect environment in which to learn to teach.

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