Let’s continue talking about … support for student teachers and NQTs in schools

This debate leads on from the GTCS/TEAN 'Let’s talk event held in Scotland in June 2015' event where delegates worked together to consider what changes are needed in order to improve support for student teachers and probationary teachers/NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers). The two main questions of the day were:

How do HEIs and schools work together to provide the most effective experience for student teachers?

How can HEIs support schools with continuing training into the first year of teaching?

This debate gave delegates the opportunity to consider these and other questions and to develop ideas together to strengthen the experience of those entering the teaching profession – and encourage them to stay …

This event was one of the TEAN ‘Let’s talk about …’ series. It took place at the University of Cumbria, Lancaster campus on Friday, December 4th, 2015. TEAN was very pleased to welcome Kathryn Gerrard and David Snowdon from Leeds Trinity University who shared their experiences and ideas to start us ‘continuing to talk about support for student teachers and NQTs in schools’.

Kathryn Gerrard from Leeds Trinity University

Kathryn spoke to delegates about support for student teachers. Her message was clear; of prime concern is that students must not be adversely affected by external changes to teacher training.

Student teachers stress the importance of their mentors in schools and in forming relationships to support an effective collaboration with them. Key people at the HEI can coordinate such collaborations and, by doing so, seek out opportunities for the university.

Kathryn asked us whether mentors were seen to be valued sufficiently and advised that HEIs could accredit them. She generously shared a first draft of what Leeds Trinity is doing in this respect; deciding to be proactive rather than wait for any mentor standards to be forthcoming from an external source.

David Snowdon from Leeds Trinity University

David then moved the debate on to consider support for NQTs and spoke of a continuum of learning from trainee to teacher and beyond.

He reminded us that NQTs are often left alone in schools ‘to get on with it’ – which could be a major factor in the difficulties involved in retaining new teachers in the profession. Without any learning activity, it is difficult for NQTs to understand the long term and the bigger picture.

They need to develop a professional attitude and this is best done in a learning community; a culture of learning amongst the school staff is key, NQTs must see themselves as continuing to learn and ideally still be research active.

Download David Snowdon’s PowerPoint here.


The group debates at the event led to a wide range of inspirations which were presented by the groups at the end of the day. The groups concentrated on HEI involvement in support for NQTs.

Notes from the four presentations can be accessed here.

Many thanks to all participants for a most productive day

Please contact TEAN if you would like to add your voice to this debate.

More Information

Let’s talk about … improving support for student and probationary teachers to learn more effectively

This event was one of the TEAN ‘Let’s talk about …’ series. It took place at the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s headquarters in Edinburgh on Thursday, June 4, 2015. We were pleased to welcome colleagues from Local Authorities, schools, Scottish Universities and English Universities, making it an opportunity for us all to come to work together in a third space, crossing both physical and mental boundaries. The theme of improving support for support for student and probationary teachers is a perennial one which can always be sure to promote much debate. TEAN was delighted to accept papers from six colleagues who shared their experiences with the group. Here we shared experience before moving forward to produce positive outcomes from the day.

Tom Hamilton from the GTCS opened the proceedings, setting the scene for the day and musing on the changes that have happened in a relatively short time to improve support.

Michael Green from the University of Greenwich suggested that he was going to be talking about the principles that Carey had talked about. His theme was ‘involving school partners to drive student teacher improvement’. He too emphasised collaboration and went on to discuss the need for students to feel a strong sense of belonging in a school. Everyone, he suggested. is on a continuum and connecting schools and universities is of prime importance.

Norrie MacKay from the GTCS concluded the input presentations with an interesting overview of how student and probationer teachers are supported in Scotland. Although it is acknowledged by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that Scotland is a world class education system which has a high retention rate, one of its strengths seems to be that it takes nothing for granted and constantly strives to improve. Colleagues from England found comparison between the two countries most valuable, as indeed did colleagues from Scotland.

The group debates at the event led to inspirations in presentations at the end of the day.

Many thanks to all participants for a most productive day.

Edit Page