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Training base gives teachers an ‘outstanding’ start to their careers

Posted on: December 9, 2016

By KathieMcInnes  |  Posted: December 09, 2016

A partnership which is training dozens of new teachers to help fill staff shortages in the region’s schools has been given top marks by inspectors.

The OAKS was jointly set up by Keele University and Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy (OSSMA), in Blurton, to ‘home-grow’ the next generation of secondary school teachers.

Over the last year, it has supported 62 trainees and two-thirds of them have gone on to land jobs in partner schools across Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and South Cheshire.

Now an Ofsted report has rated the provision as outstanding, praising its ‘highly personalised’ and collaborative approach.

Inspectors say teachers are starting their careers with ‘excellent’ skills, a ‘sophisticated range’ of behaviour management techniques and high expectations for pupils’ achievements.

The findings also carry wider significance as the OAKS is one of a new breed of training providers led by schools themselves. In future, the Government wants to see more teacher training courses delivered by these so-called ‘SCITTs’.

Drama teacher Chloe Sims, who now works at OSSMA, was based at the OAKS last year.

The 27-year-old, from Meir, said: “It was much more hands-on. You knew what to expect when you became a newly qualified teacher. You could manage your time better and it didn’t feel as daunting.”

The OAKS programme sees trainees split their time between placements in local schools and sessions one day a week at Keele University, where experienced teachers guide them through different topics, teaching theories and classroom strategies.

Each of them is assigned a personal mentor at the OAKS and a subject mentor at their placement school. At the end of the year, they gain qualified teacher status and a PGCE from Keele.

Josh Brown, who is now a biology teacher at OSSMA, said: “As part of the course, we also had subject days. You got much more of a feel for the job.”

The 22-year-old, from Werrington, got into teaching through his interest in PE.

The Ofsted report says the partnership has high standards for recruiting trainees and they are given strong support, with ‘intellectually rigorous’ training that helps them plan ‘exciting and inspiring’ lessons.

Newly qualified computer science teacher Chrissie Davison is not surprised that the OAKS has been rated as outstanding. The 24-year-old, from Sandbach, said: “It offers a very personal experience.”

She believes more people would be drawn to teaching careers if that firsthand experience was built into university degrees.

“Students do placements with companies, so why not do a stint in a school,” she added. “It’s not for everybody but, for some, it would make a huge difference.”

Rob Tweats, directors of the OAKS, said he was delighted with the praise from Ofsted.

He added: “All staff in the partnership have worked extremely hard for this prestigious status. The trainees have done tremendously well too.”