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Home News National Project that connects rural schools is thriving in our Diocese

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National Project that connects rural schools is thriving in our Diocese

by ajack last modified 09 Dec, 2021 10:20 AM

The Church of England Education Office, Chartered College of Teaching and Teach First have teamed up to address some of the challenges faced by rural schools - including a training programme for trainee teachers.

Last week was a busy week for the Rural Teaching Partnership (RTP)! Not only was there a national webinar on Mixed Age Class Teaching run with over 450 attendees, but it also saw a visit by the Church of England and Teach First team. 

The team visited two of the schools in our Diocese to hear how their first six months in the pilot project have gone. (Read more about it here)

Nicola Coupe, one of our School Improvement Advisers, is seconded to the Church of England Education Office part-time to help lead the RTP. She organised the visits to The Trinity CE Primary Academy in Devizes and Shaftesbury CE Primary School last Monday and accompanied Liz Easaw, the national RTP lead for Teach First to speak to Beth and Amy, the trainee teachers on the programme. They also spoke to the headteachers and mentors to hear first-hand what it has been like to be part of this pilot project.

Both Beth and Amy expressed how much they had been looking forward to starting their journey as teachers and that it had been exciting when they knew the school in which this would happen.  

Beth, at Trinity said: 

“Teach First and the Rural Teaching Partnership jumped out to me for everything it stands for. I’ve always wanted to teach and at one point last year, with Covid, I thought ‘It’s never going to happen!’ But when I’m standing in front of my class, I know this is where I really want to be.” 

Beth, who comes from Bristol, shared how much she is enjoying working in Devizes:

“The town has a real atmosphere of care. Working here feels close-knit and like a family. I like being a part of the town and at work I know I can ask anyone for ideas, and they will offer help.”

Both Beth and Amy attended the four-week Summer Institute training run by Teach First in June, which they found to be inspiring and developmental. Amy explained: 

“Summer Institute training was really good! It was impressive in that even though it was online, we were able to attend live sessions and carry out role play which enabled us to have a reflective approach to deliberate practice, such as those I’m now using in the classroom to engage pupils in learning.”  

And how does Amy feel about the support she gets now that she is working in a school? 

“Between my University Tutor and my school Mentor, I feel I have great support. They are 100% there for me and encourage me.”  

Beth agreed with this, and also explained that she finds the networking opportunity through Teach First’s Southwest WhatsApp group another valuable place to share questions and ideas.  

Both Hannah Allender, Headteacher at The Trinity Primary Academy and Paul Lavis, Headteacher at Shaftesbury Primary School explained that being part of the RTP has brought opportunities for senior teachers in their school to develop their own reflective practice.  

“Our Senior Leadership capacity has grown in the school”  

Hannah said: 

“It has been great for Beth’s mentor to have access to the Teach First Development Lead. It has had a positive ‘knock-on’ into the school.” 

Reflecting on the day’s visits to the two schools, Nicola and Liz shared: 

“It was very interesting and useful to hear what has gone really well and what could be better. The visits also gave us the opportunity to ask what could be added into the programme for this coming year, because it is very important that those ‘on the ground’ can shape the programme as it develops.” 

What’s next with the RTP? 

The next Chartered College Webinar is on 2nd March – Dialogic Teaching with Professor Neil Mercer who is the Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, where his research on oracy is recognised internationally. SAVE THE DATE!    

Teach First has set up a network for teachers and leaders in rural schools. The aims are to build a community, to encourage conversation and to provide CPD. If you’d like to be part of a network that champions rural schools, then you can join the Facebook community here.

The Chartered College of Teaching is the professional body for teachers. Members can watch the recording of the Mixed Age Class Teaching Webinar on the website resources section. Teacher membership is under £4 per month and Trainees can be a member for less than £2 per month. See here.

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