Learning to deliver rather than perform;FE Focus

13th March 1998 at 00:00
The old 'tick-box' approach to training is being ousted in favour of a focus on professionalism and ethics. Ian Nash and Elaine Carlton report.

A couple of "scary" years spurred media and communications lecturer, Mark Tooms, to check out a teacher training course.

"One year I was offered just twelve hours teaching a week and I can't live on that, so I decided to improve my marketability," he said.

"I also found teaching enormously stressful and believed that by doing a course I would find ways to deal with this."

Mr Tooms who currently teaches in three private sixth-form colleges in West London started the post-compulsory education and training course (PCET) to ensure he could teach in a range of FE colleges.

"I realised that I didn't have enough qualifications and if I wanted to move to an FE college that wasn't private I would come in at the lowest level."

This, combined with overwhelming stress, of working without proper training, led him to look at the courses on offer. A colleague suggested the PCET course at the University of Greenwich and Mr Tooms applied.

"My whole attitude was quite arrogant. I felt that if they were going to get pound;3,500 of fees out of my local authority it had better be worthwhile. I opted to do the part-time course so I could carry on teaching and earning.

"Before I did the course I felt I was unable to deal with disruption and I found it extraordinarily stressful to perform in front of a class the whole time. Now I don't perform for anyone, I deliver.

"I feel far more confident when I go into a classroom and that confidence is based on knowledge of good practice and what works, which I have learnt from the course.

"My first degree was fine arts-based and therefore I like to use a creative teaching programme. The course has given me a structure to hang my creativity on."

Mr Tooms' favourite part of the course is its group support meetings where all the students share the problems that arise in their teaching practice.

He had no idea that the Government would soon require all FE teachers to obtain the qualification, but believes this is a good idea.

"I've become a far better teacher and that means my students are benefiting too. I have learned a lot about planning and managing lessons. I always worked on an ad hoc basis before. I knew I had to cover certain topics by certain dates, but my classes were never more structured than that. Now I plan them very carefully.

"I was very cynical about this course. I felt I had to do it to give myself a future and some peace of mind, but I have definitely benefited from it."


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