Probationers take first step up career ladder

24th June 2011 at 01:00
But GTCS chief says they need support to face tough times

Probationer teachers on the threshold of a "difficult jobs market" were awarded their Certificates for Full Registration at a special General Teaching Council for Scotland ceremony this week.

GTCS chief executive Anthony Finn warned that new teachers needed ongoing support while Learning and Skills Minister Alasdair Allan counselled that they would have to develop into reflective practitioners under Curriculum for Excellence.

A few of the probationers showed they were already well on the way to becoming just that - reflective practitioners - as they shared some of the highlights and challenges of their first year of teaching.

Clare Davey, who studied aesthetics, sport psychology and biomechanics as part of her BEd in physical education at Edinburgh University, was keen to dispel myths about PE teachers. "We're not just beanbag throwers," she said.

With a whiteboard at the poolside at Deans Community High in West Lothian, one of Miss Davey's "proudest and most embarrassing" experiences was combining literacy, numeracy and swimming instruction in a lesson, watched over by a sceptical audience of teachers, fellow probationers and janitors.

Liam Strachan asked his P4-5 pupils at Cults Primary in Aberdeen what it meant to be "a good teacher". "They were very honest - for most of them it was about dress sense," he said.

"Using ICT" came a close second. Despite being a Glow novice, he capitalised on pupil enthusiasm, introducing e-portfolios and setting homework on the schools intranet system.

Some staff at Cults Primary felt "pressured" over the schools intranet, he said. "There was too much of a `must use it' approach for them." He helped them access the self-help areas so they could work with pupils to develop Glow pages.

Soon the ICT suite was full of pupils working with Glow and other teachers were more positive about something they had once feared.

A mature student with a degree in music, Natalie White brought a passion for outdoor education to her P4-5 class at New Cumnock School in East Ayrshire.

Adapting the John Muir Award for primary, she had an "infamous welly-boots policy", ensuring the pupils spent as much time outside the classroom as possible.

As part of her Eco Committee work, she and the children grew potatoes, tomatoes, pears and broccoli and built a plastic-bottle greenhouse. She was also involved in a community project to upgrade a dilapidated graveyard and set up an inter-generational project with old people at a care home.

chris.small@tes.co.uk.

Original headline: Probationers take their first step up career ladder

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