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A busy but brilliant First Term at The Cherwell School! Two Associate Teachers and their Senior Link reflect on their first full term on the SCITT course.

Helen and Mollie are currently training with a placement at The Cherwell School, a large secondary school in Oxford, and Leanne is their Senior Link. The Senior Link is a senior member of staff in the placement school who coordinates all aspects of the placement training and supports the Associate Teachers (trainees) and their Mentors. These extracts were written for the school’s Winter Newsletter and we are delighted to share their thoughts and reflections here too.

Leanne Dorn – Senior Link

We welcomed 10 excited and enthusiastic Associate Teachers (ATs) to The Cherwell School back in September and they’ve really established themselves into the life of the school!  They have been applying what they have learnt about teaching (through their SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) training) into the classrooms and have made fantastic progress already in such a short space of time.  I was really impressed on the September 29th INSET day when they did presentations (in the style of teaching) about what they had learnt so far and they all spoke so confidently about what expert colleagues in the school had demonstrated to them.  They’ve all completed their first assessment point and the second is rapidly approaching.  We are really lucky to have such a large number training with us at Cherwell across a breadth of subject areas too.  As we move into the next phase of their training the ATs will be taking more lessons, honing their craft and continuing to contribute brilliant new ideas into the teaching profession.  It’s been brilliant to see the bonds they have made with each other too which can make such a difference in this profession, after all, we are all in for the same reasons!  A big thank you to the ATs for their commitment and efforts and all of the mentors for their time, patience and continuous support to their ATs.  Lastly, thanks to all other colleagues who welcome ATs into their classrooms to observe, who offer informal support and guidance, they really are learning a huge amount from you.

Helen Norman – Biology

Time has certainly flown during the past 3 months I have spent at Cherwell as an Associate Teacher!  I loved that on the SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) we were able to get stuck into school life straight away and feel fully part of the school community.  Everyone at Cherwell has been so friendly and welcoming as well as keen to support me to get to grips with everything.  The structure of the SCITT course also means there is ample chance to apply what you have learnt in weekly central sessions at your placement school.  In my time here so far, I’ve particularly enjoyed getting stuck in with teaching practicals, getting to know students and staff and having the opportunity to try out and get feedback on new techniques and teaching strategies covered in our central SCITT sessions.  A highlight of the SCITT sessions so far was the Super SEND (Special Education Needs and Disability) day where we had the chance to hear from parents and carers of children with SEND – this insight into SEND was thought provoking and allowed me to reflect on how best to support SEND learners in the classroom. 

I have been so grateful to my wonderful colleagues in the Science faculty, in particular my mentor, for all the time, support and feedback they have given me.  This has supported me to grow in confidence and develop my own teaching practice hugely in a short space of time.  I am really excited to have been offered a job at Cherwell as an ECT (Early Career Teacher) from next September, I feel very lucky to know even when I head off to my second placement in February I’ll be coming back to Cherwell!

Mollie McManus – Drama 

As I approach the end of my first phase in school centred initial teacher training I am reflecting on everything I have learnt at Cherwell and the invaluable experience SCITT has given me so far.  I have wanted to be a Drama teacher for a while; but there is only so much reading, watching and preparing that you can do for such a practical subject like Drama.  Being able to jump straight into the academic year as a hands-on Associate Teacher has allowed me to develop so much of my confidence as a working practitioner and see an immediate response from pupils who recognise me as another one of their teachers.

I have been supported in so many ways thanks to the great network at Cherwell.  The ever-busy Performing Arts faculty have welcomed me as a respected professional colleague.  My mentor always manages to find time for me to discuss my development on a day-to-day basis.  Teachers from other departments have been so accepting of my requests to observe their lessons.  Assisting with extra-curricular activities such as KS3 Drama club has also given me great opportunities to build relationships with the extremely talented pupils at Cherwell.  Talking to them about the endless creative possibilities they can discover in performing arts has boosted my enthusiasm for the subject even further as I am reminded of being their age and adoring drama at school.

Next February, as I move on to my second placement school, I will be sorry to say goodbye to Cherwell but I have loved every day here and I can’t wait to continue my progress with the skills I have learnt here as an associate teacher.  I can only hope that the schools I work with in the future will have such an amazing community as the team here, many of whom I’ve made great friendships with that will last well beyond my SCITT journey!