The School Direct programme, introduced to replace the Graduate Teacher Programme, is riddled with problems that have had a negative impact on my desire to teach.
I began the course as a graduate, believing that the route would benefit me more than the traditional PGCE because it involves more time in school. I took up my position, away from my family and friends, under the assumption that I would be trained in the fundamentals of teaching, as that was not only what my fees paid for but also what the term "teacher training" implied.
What I experienced was so badly orchestrated that it seems unbelievable that the needs of children could be put so greatly behind the financial reward reaped by the school. I arrived and found that I was simply to observe several classes over the course of two weeks. After this, the students were entirely in my hands: there were no instructions as to lesson planning, behaviour management or any other crucial aspects of teaching.
Eventually, assistance did come in the form of training sessions where an unfortunate teacher presented the entirety of their career's knowledge in 50 minutes via a PowerPoint. The words "This won't take long, I've got to get home" were regularly heard. And on the days that the school was supposed to have set aside for training, we trainees were sent on pointless diversions to assist at a primary school or to observe a sixth-form childcare class filling out worksheets, while our peers in other schools were attending continuing professional development courses.
Naturally, I fell behind: learning from nothing is impossible. I then found out that the school had received the majority of our fees - more than #163;5,000 per student - as a training budget. This was obviously quickly absorbed into its coffers, because what we experienced did not constitute training or a valid investment.
The real problem is that, because of the uncertainty as to what the School Direct course entails, schools can run it any way they choose. The course not only failed me, as a prospective teacher whose sole desire was to use my passion to enrich the lives of others, but also the children in my care.
A School Direct trainee.