The key to teacher training, or so I am lead to believe so far, is reflection. In fact, it would seem like I have to reflect on every waking breath! For anyone that doesn't know, these reflections are used as evidence that I have met 8 standards to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). In the past there used to be something like 32 of these, each requiring a folder full of evidence. Some training routes still require a folder per standard, which can be confusing when trainees within one school are on different programmes. As I'm doing a PGCE I will just need one folder at the end of the year, this includes my weekly journal, a reflection on each of the standards and yet more paperwork and forms. As well as this I will complete 3 assignments over the course of the year, they are Professional Investigations: Professional Studies, Enhanced Studies and Curriculum Studies. I only really know anything about the first one at the moment and that the Enhanced Studies will be researched whilst I am on a two week non-teaching placement at another school. I'll also be doing a teaching placement for four weeks at another school, this has to be a contrasting school to my main placement so I presume it will be a grammar school.
Over and above my training requirements I'm trying to get involved in other things going on around the school. So far these have centred around my own department, I've gone along to after school sessions, marked some primary transition work and even been out to a primary school to talk about how the school can work with them on some MFL sessions in year 6. This week I get the chance to be involved outside of my department when the students are off timetable for the day, working on activities in their form groups and colleges (or houses). As far as I know this event is to start off some competition between the colleges for the rest of the year and to encourage what has been described as a family feeling. I'm really looking forward to it and think this has to be one of the main advantages of School Direct as it is allowing me to be part of the school from day one and really get involved just as any other member of staff.
In terms of the school/PGCE balance things are going fine so far, but I can already see that changing as I start to take over starters and parts of classes bit by bit from this week. I'm conscious that there is going to be so much to do and so little time to do it in, but I knew that when I applied for this programme so it's just something I'll have to deal with.
On a less personal note, the ITT figures for this year have been released recently. They show that whilst there were many many more applications for School Direct than places available there were many places left empty, I think it was around 45% or something similar. It seems that this comes down to the schools involved in the process. As schools have a much bigger say in the selection of trainees than they would with PGCE placements they are applying the standards that they would in selecting their own staff. Unfortunately, this seems to mean that there are many unfilled places for teacher training this year, as less PGCE places were available. Although the quality of School Direct training is high, there won't be enough Newly Qualified Teachers around at the end of it. What worries me is that the mistakes made this year are going to tar what could've been a very successful programme in the future.