Why A Classroom-Based Teacher Training Route Might Be Perfect For You!


If you are looking at getting into teaching but are not sure where to start, it is always worth researching your training options to help you consider teaching as a career. Prior to working at Kent-Teach, I worked in Primary Education for several years. I loved teaching and the main reason for leaving the profession was purely on medical grounds. But, I am overjoyed to be working as the Digital Marketing Executive for Kent-Teach helping my home county to employ the very best school staff and using our social media platforms to support and champion school staff. 

   When I began my career in teaching I had just graduated from university with an English Literature degree. When I graduated I was unsure which career path to take and, at the time, jobs were quite limited. After stumbling across the Kent-Teach website, I discovered an advertisement for a Graduate Tutor in a Kent primary school. Working in education was not something I had previously considered despite my favourite game as a child being playing pretend schools (I would diligently create a register for my toys and plan lessons!). However, the job sounded perfect and ideal for someone like me with transferable skills and a high level of education but a lack of formal work experience. Luckily, I had completed my Year 10 work experience placement in a primary school. I was based in EYFS for the duration and earned the Excellence Award. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement and missed the pupils and the classroom immensely when it ended. Moreover, I had spent previous university summers volunteering for my local community charity so had developed valuable and transferable skills to include in my application for the Graduate Tutor position. 

   I was lucky enough to be selected for an interview. This was several years ago now but I clearly remember there were several stages to the interview, such as a marking task, an assessment, teaching a small group of children a short lesson and then the formal interview. It was a nerve-wracking process, but I left feeling happy and confident. Later that day, I received a phone call to tell me I had been successful.

   For the next 2 years, I worked as a Graduate Tutor and a 1:1 Teaching Assistant for a child with SEN. During this time, I was given ample opportunity to cover whole classes during PPA and teacher training as well as leading my own Maths and English sets and planning booster lessons and group interventions. This was alongside supporting the class teacher in a Teaching Assistant capacity.

    A few months into my second year I decided I wanted to train as a teacher. Initially, it was a prospect that terrified me and I was unsure which route to take. I thoroughly researched into all training methods such as Teach First, Schools Direct and PGCE. I used the Kent-Teach website to help with this alongside other resources. After thoroughly studying my options, I realised I had built up enough experience to apply for a salaried Schools Direct training route. For me, personally, I did not want to remove myself from the classroom to return to university. I felt I had built up such valuable knowledge and skills through first-hand experience as a Graduate Tutor and that it would be a shame to halt my experience thus far.

  In the end, I applied for 2 Schools Direct initiatives as well as a PGCE course at the University of Brighton. I was lucky enough to receive interview invitations for all 3. After carefully considering the offers, I opted for a salaried Schools Direct training route with the Medway Teaching Schools Alliance. I was placed in a school very close to where I grew up; therefore, I felt a particular affinity to this school. 

  The interview process for Schools Direct was, again, made up of several steps. I was given a timetable on the interview day. The tasks I was given included an assessment, marking, teaching a small group of children, a group task with other candidates and a formal interview. My top tip would be to evidence every answer you give. For example, when asked about my experience of SEN, I gave examples from my time as a 1:1 TA and tutor, including responsibilities I had and successes. I was successful in obtaining a place on the programme. 

   The Schools Direct training route was a 1 year placement. I was permanently based at one school, but I needed to complete placements in a contrasting school, a secondary school and contrasting key stages. Fortunately, my school was part of an academy trust and had plenty of contrasting schools to visit for my placements. I needed to attend university either monthly or bi-monthly; my accredited provider was Canterbury Christchurch University who I cannot speak more highly of! In addition, those of us who were training under the Medway Teaching Schools Alliance were also required to attend MTSA training days again on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. The CCCU days were largely based around subject knowledge and pedagogy. The MTSA sessions were engaging, practical and involved lots of interaction and group tasks. 

  For the first term, I was required to support a fully qualified teacher in my assigned class. I mainly acted in a support staff role for this time, carrying out regular observations of the teacher to aid my learning. I was also required to work independently with small groups of children and carry out interventions. After the first term, I began teaching more and more. It began as covering PPA, but as time went on, I was required to attend PPA to develop my own lesson planning skills and subject knowledge. When this happened, the class teacher would observe me teaching or go to conduct observations of other trainee teachers whilst I taught the class with fantastic Teaching Assistants supporting me. From Easter onwards, I was independently responsible for a Year 5 class. This is not normally the case for Schools Direct; you would at least be with the class you had shadowed from the beginning. However, an unexpected staff resignation prompted me to volunteer myself as the new teacher alongside the support of a very experienced HLTA who had been permanently based with the Year 5 class from September. It was stressful, but I am so glad I stepped in. My confidence grew significantly as I was teaching full time. My class could be challenging but there was not a day that passed when they didn’t make me smile! 

   My final assessments for Schools Direct were time consuming and required a lot of organisation and hard work from day one to make the final assessments more manageable. The more I taught, the harder I found it to keep on top of the administrative tasks I needed to do to evidence my teacher training progress. I needed to carefully document how I had met each Teachers' Standard throughout the course of my training – this not only involved written work but also photos, photocopies of marking I had done and copies of my lesson planning. I also needed to include certificates for any CPD completed and the training days I had attended. If I could do it again, I would have made more of an effort to stay on top of my assessment folder and ask for help more if I was struggling for time. As well as the regular lesson observations by my in-school mentor for the whole academic year, my final assessment involved a more formal observation with my university mentor/guide. 

   I passed my teacher training year with a Grade 1 and was completely overjoyed that my hard work had paid off. Despite being offered a job at the school I completed my training in, I had relocated earlier that year and decided to accept a teaching position closer to my new home. 

  So, if you are thinking of leaving your current career and getting into teaching, there are a range of options available to you; not just PGCE’s. Although, it is worth noting the majority of teacher training routes require you to have a university degree. The number 1 piece of advice I would give is to get as much experience as you possibly can! Whether that’s volunteering at a school, working at a children’s activity centre or securing a job as a member of support staff, experience of working with children and knowledge of safeguarding and the national curriculum is absolutely key to being accepted onto any teacher training program. Gaining experience is also good for you as it will show you whether you enjoy working with children and within education. Teaching is the most rewarding, fulfilling and life-changing career, but you must be entirely committed and passionate about it. Teaching is hard work; the hours are not 8:30-3:30 and the ‘holidays’ are spent lesson planning, creating resources and putting together fantastic classroom displays; not purely relaxing! However, it is SO worth it and knowing you are making a difference to each and every pupil you teach is the best feeling in the world. Don’t hold back and pursue your dreams. 

   To find out more about getting into teaching, go to our Become a Teacher webpage which contains an abundance of information to help you begin your teaching journey. You can also read our blog ‘How to Become a Qualified Teacher’ for more information. 

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