A Sutton-based alliance of schools are bucking the trend in recruiting new staff – thanks to a ground-breaking on-site training programme that is creating the teachers of tomorrow.
Across the UK, schools are grappling with a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention at a time when the number of children of school-age is on the increase.
“Since we started in 2012, the whole purpose has been to attract high quality graduates and develop them into excellent teachers for local schools,”
– joe gavin
But Sutton Coldfield’s Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP) is benefitting from a steady stream of inspirational new educators, thanks to a dedicated ‘Teaching School’ based at the Kittoe Road site.
Joe Gavin, 31, Associate Assistant Headteacher, said schools across the area were all benefitting from the steady flow of new recruits, who are referred to as ‘Associate Teachers’.
“Since we started in 2012, the whole purpose has been to attract high quality graduates and develop them into excellent teachers for local schools,” he said.
“It has provided a consistently high number of quality new recruits when the picture nationally has been challenging for a few years now.”
Around sixty trainees are taking on the year-long course this year, and more than 300 have passed through it since 2012, with the vast majority still working in local schools. Many of those are now working in leadership positions.
The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – which was named Large Business of the Year at last year’s Sutton, Tamworth and Lichfield Chamber Awards – unites 14 secondary schools across Birmingham, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. However, the Teaching School taps into an even bigger network of 22 schools to give its teachers-in-training an opportunity to work at different sites.
“You shouldn’t underestimate how challenging and intense it is, but however hard it gets you feel like you’re doing something for a purpose. It feels like you are doing something worthwhile,”
– mark smith
Sutton dad Mark Smith, 45, decided to change his career from a life in insurance to the classroom. Now he’s training to pass on a lifetime of interest in geography, with placements at Bishop Vesey’s School in Sutton and Erasmus Darwin Academy in Staffordshire.
“It is a very hard course,” he said, “You shouldn’t underestimate how challenging and intense it is, but however hard it gets you feel like you’re doing something for a purpose. It feels like you are doing something worthwhile.
“Being completely school-based provides real on-the-job experience dealing with the varying challenges you get at different schools. It’s a real strength of the course.”
The course is run in collaboration with Birmingham City University, where academic rigour complements the practical teaching experience built in local classrooms. The link-up also allows students to potentially study for a future Masters degree.
Emily Hamilton, 28, has taught at Arthur Terry and Stockland Green schools as part of her studies.
“We’re about half-way through the course and I think I’m beginning to feel more like a teacher now,” she said.
“The course is very intensive, but the welfare of the students is very important here, and they make sure you are ready to take each step.
“We’re about half-way through the course and I think I’m beginning to feel more like a teacher now,”
– emily hamilton
“It can feel like you could fill every hour of the day with work – but it is incredibly rewarding.”
The Teaching School will be holding an open morning on Saturday March 7, from 10am-12pm, at Arthur Terry School for people interested in teacher training.