Tuesday, 23 July 2013

School Direct: Criticisms and variety, don't tar everyone with the same brush.

About a month ago I wrote this post about School Direct and the unknown aspects and misconceptions.  Since then there have been many more articles that only seem to further these misunderstandings.  The coverage of School Direct in the news is overwhelmingly negative and I believe that a lot of this is due to misunderstanding as opposed to criticism of the facts.  I am going to use this opportunity to give my views on some of the criticisms I've seen around:

1) Trainees will not see the same variety of schools that they would via a university-based PGCE route.

As much as this may be true to some extent all School Direct trainees will be expected to spend time in more than one school as required for obtaining QTS.  In fact, some school consortiums are able to provide their trainees with experience in a greater variety of schools.

2) Trainees won't get the important reflection time away from school that they would if they were following a university based training route.

I don't know how this will work for those trainees not gaining a PGCE, but I know that one day a week I will be training in curriculum and professional studies away from my school with other student teachers.  This will give me the opportunity to meet with other students, like I would do had I been at a university, and discuss issues and share experiences with them.

3) There won't be a strong enough focus on theory and academic study.

Again, although I don't know quite how this will work for non-PGCE trainees (presumably in a similar way to the non-PGCE GTP route) but so far I am under the impression that there is still a strong academic focus to my course.  I will be attending university for 2 weeks next month with full days of curriculum and professional studies.  I will still be required to complete academic assignments in order to gain my PGCE and I am still expected to study the same texts as the university based PGCE courses.

As far as I can tell so far, many of these criticisms of School Direct would also apply to Teach First, SCITT or the previous GTP.  

I understand the concerns related to applications and the knock-on effect this is having for university providers and this is certainly an issue that can't be ignored.  That said, in the cases where the School Direct training route also leads to the award of a PGCE I don't see the downside or the risk to teacher quality.

The variety of provision for School Direct across the schools and universities involved is yet to be seen, some with PGCE, some without, some with a wider variety of experience than others.  I guess what I'm saying is when making judgements about School Direct this variety must be kept in mind and we mustn't tar all of the training providers with the same brush.


  1. I am about to start a SCITT course in September, and I totally agree with your view on all of the criticisms that you have mentioned in your blog post! On the SCITT course, we have 2 official placements, and then are given the opportunity to spend a week in a special Ed school to gain more experience, We have mentors both in and outside of our placement schools and we spend one day a week in an educational setting learning theory! I personally feel the SCITT/school direct/GTP options are so hands on that the experience you gain first hand in a school is invaluable!!!
    Good luck for September!

  2. The problem that I had with Schools Direct it that my application to 6 or more local schools seemed to fall into a black hole, where only 1 out of 6 schools I applied to even acknowledged my application. Luckily I have won a place on PGCE, which I am very excited about, as I want to go back to safety of University environment to train to be a teacher. WE have to 120 days of schools placement; we get support to develop and reflect on our teaching practise. PGCE is world class, and globally recognized qualification. Why Mr. Gove wants to abolish it , is a mystery to me, and most PGCE tutors/graduates.