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School Direct and routes into teaching ‰- PP27

The topic of the week is School Direct and routes into teaching.


Stuart GarbuttThis week’s guest is School Direct teacher, Stuart Garbutt.

Stuart is currently doing his Primary School Direct course at the University of Chichester. He is working at two schools at the moment – in a Year 3 class and a Year 1 class. Stuart originally did a degree in Adventure Education at Chichester which involved rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits!

Subsequently, Stuart wanted to move into Primary teaching because he had a very positive experience himself at Primary School and he wants to be the kind of Primary School teacher that children in his classes remember.

There are now several different routes into teaching in England but Stuart chose this employment-based route because he wanted to start his career after four years at University rather than spending another year training.

Having worked in two different schools as a classroom assistant during his previous degree, Stuart saw School Direct as a great way to further his passion for teaching.

Stuart also speaks highly of the Forest Schools model which fitted in well with his degree. He likes the child-led approach and says the activities encourage good behaviour. The children see the time as their own and they direct the activity themselves.

One of the aspects of School Direct which appealed to Stuart was being in school all year round – experiencing the whole school year. Also, he was seen as a teacher from the very first day, not a trainee or a student teacher. He shares the classroom with an experienced teacher but his name and hers are on the door.

This practical classroom-based activity is combined with twenty days a year at University, studying all aspects of teaching with passionate, inspirational lecturers. This can then be put straight into action in your classroom.

Forty days a year are devoted to school-based training which is led by a mentor and personalised to exactly what Stuart needs. Stuart’s mentor has a Year 5 class so they do not share a class and they have a hour a week set aside for a mentor meeting.

Stuart describes how positive he feels having the chance to take risks in the classroom but still having the safety net of colleagues.

Stuart has several formal observations a term – some with his mentor and some with University staff. These observations have specific focusses. This has grown from small aspects of practice to whole lesson practice over time.

There are lots of aspects of teaching which cannot fully be learned from school-based practice. For example, Stuart says he has gained a huge amount from University sessions on use of the voice. He says you can observe how colleagues talk to children but it’s not possible to know why they do what they do – this is where University sessions come in.

Stuart mentions the Carol Dweck book ‘Mindset’ which has been an influence on his teaching. He has seen the impact of praising effort rather than the children themselves and reflects on the importance of the language teachers use. Paul agrees and says that if you praise effort, everyone in the class can have the same level of positive reinforcement.

Paul and Stuart agree that fitting into someone else’s behaviour management routines and practices is sometimes unavoidable, particularly for a teacher who is training.

Paul mentions another very helpful book – Words That Work by Frank I. Luntz.

Social media has been a great help to Stuart – Twitter, Pinterest and even Amazon has been helpful. Paul describes the wonderful TeachMeet phenomenon and refers to the TeachMeet London Bus event coming up on 12th March 2014.

When asked what the best piece of advice is that he’s been given, Stuart says,

“It’s OK for your lesson not to go as well as you thought it would.”


TeachMeet London Bus! Pivotal Education are sponsoring the first ever TeachMeet to take place on a London Bus. Tickets are available for 12th March, 2014.

New free iPad App! Be the first to download and use this amazing new app! Students love using the Pivotal Progess Sliders app on iPads to track their progress during lessons. You can also save progress and return to it in the next lesson.

What would you like to hear covered in forthcoming episodes? Let us know by emailing or by leaving a comment below this post.

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Creative Commons image by StressedTechnician

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