What keeps me awake at night

30th May 2014 at 01:00
We train teachers up just to break them down

After a recent round of school visits, on which I observed student teachers, I find myself taking stock.

I have been training teachers for more than a decade. I have seen four standards rewrites, designed PGCEs split between professional and master's level, accommodated the changes needed to welcome School Direct and worked with trainees doing university courses. I have interviewed hundreds of prospective student teachers, watched thousands of lessons and developed working relationships with dozens of mentors.

The numbers creep up: quotas filled, placements completed, qualifications awarded and jobs secured. Am I proud? Yes. But my overriding thought is how pleased I am that I don't know the number of teaching posts abandoned by those bright newcomers who have so much to offer. When I go back into schools, people I had hoped would become mentors are often no longer even teaching.

And why is this? Well, we have subverted school visits to provide quality assurance rather than support, and diminished the complexity of learning to teach to a paperchase.

This is my reality: journeys between schools, signing in at reception, quick chats with distracted mentors as we dash along corridors. Summaries of trainee teachers' progress often extend only to "I hardly see them", "They're doing fine" or "We're still working on the same two targets".

I observe lessons from behind a pile of "evidence files", trying to make sense of the context and the practice. I must assess teaching and learning in a snapshot.

And then there's the lesson review: "Let's talk about learning - your pupils' and yours." I try to resist the inevitable routine of ticking off targets - they are a poor substitute for professional repertoire.

This system is so devoid of passion and has been simplified beyond use. We need to work harder at the entrance stage of the profession to ensure that these talented teachers stick around.

The writer has worked in teacher training across the UK for more than a decade

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk

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