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Rachael Farnsworth, Early Career Teacher – Reflections on the Primary Part-time Associate Teacher Training Programme she recently completed

When I was considering my options for teacher training, there were several things to consider. Firstly, dare I say it, I am a lady of
a certain age (in fact I celebrated a milestone birthday during my training!) so I felt that my university days were well behind me.
Secondly, my university boyfriend had actually become my husband and now we had a mortgage and two young daughters to
think of. Finally, I’d been a Teaching Assistant for a while and was very happy at my school, but unfortunately a salaried or
employment-based route was no longer available locally.

Enter, then, the part-time tuition fee course! The programme I chose at Oxfordshire Teacher Training was brilliant, as I could
obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in four terms instead of three, stay at my current school for a full year and move to my alternate placement for the
final term of the course, finishing in December of the second year and ready to teach in the January! By training three days per
week, I could also keep my TA role and keep some money coming in.

Training part-time isn’t for the faint of heart and deserves careful consideration as a certain amount of juggling is definitely
needed! By the end of the first half-term I had actually moved to an alternative placement because it turns out,
unsurprisingly, that being a parent, TA and Associate Teacher all in one school is… well, a bit too much on one plate. Thankfully
my SCITT provider supported the change and found me another great school to train in.

On my programme we had three days a week allocated to training, split into one day of curriculum and subject sessions and two
days in placement schools. This can be challenging- by the time your teaching days come round the children are sometimes
flagging and it can be hard to teach sequences of work as you aren’t there for most of the week. Therefore, to succeed as a part-
time Associate Teacher you need flexibility, initiative and resilience; not to mention the stamina it takes to keep going into year
2, after your full-time friends have qualified and are into their ECT roles. Part-time is by no means the easy option.
However, as I sit and reflect on the last two years, from initial application to being awarded QTS, there are lots of good things
about the part-time route. I am endlessly grateful for the support and camaraderie of my fellow Associate Teachers without
whom the course would have been much more difficult. The lengthier placements meant that I was still able to build great
relationships with my classes – both mentors told me that children were usually very sad when it wasn’t ‘a Mrs Farnsworth day’ –
as well as getting to know colleagues and feeling very much part of the school. More practically, I didn’t need childcare on the
days I wasn’t training and still continued to work as a TA on those two days, which made it all more financially viable (happily,
my children love after-school club and my youngest is delighted to be going full-time after Christmas!).

There is an obvious question around being able to find a job easily when you don’t qualify until December, and it was something
I was initially concerned about. Would I be always going for the same roles as my friends? Would there even be any jobs
around? Would schools look down on my training part-time and think I couldn’t handle a full-time position? To take those in
order: 1) it only happened once and actually neither of us got that job. 2) There were plenty of vacancies available; and in the
end all of us on the part-time route had secured a job by the time the course had finished. 3) Completely unfounded; the three
schools I applied to were very positive about my training route.

Having juggled part-time training, working and parenting and come out intact shows better than anything else that I can handle
whatever school-life throws at me. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that of all the teachers who could start a teaching position mid-
year, those who have trained part-time are ideally placed to do so.