Matthew Morgan is Chair of the Gloucestershire Association of Head Teachers Ltd and Headmaster at Sir Thomas Rich’s School in Gloucester. Recently rated as one of the top schools in the whole of the South West region by The Sunday Times, he is understandably proud of his school’s achievements but shows no sign of resting on his laurels. This extremely well respected grammar school is just one of GITEP SCITT’s partnership schools providing school placements for trainees and Matthew’s strong sense of commitment to supporting teacher training programmes within schools stems from his belief that helping to bring on the next generation of teachers is a really important aspect of his role as a leader in education.
“I think it’s important for trainee teachers to experience teaching in a really good school,” he explains. “It’s also good for children to be exposed to enthusiastic young people with fresh ideas even though the learning may be a little less polished and refined than from more experienced teachers. Ensuring the children have no more than three trainee teachers at one time, particularly close to exam time, means they get a good all-round experience.”
Not content to merely facilitate the placement of trainees, he also gets involved with training them, backing up their excellent subject knowledge with sessions in behaviour management and pastoral care. He encourages his colleagues, both at Sir Thomas Rich’s School and in our other partnership schools, to help and support the trainees and NQTs, as borne out by the trainees and NQTs themselves:
Alice, GITEP trainee and Chemistry NQT
Alice will be starting at Tewkesbury School in September as a Chemistry teacher. Her degree is in Geology with Paleobiology and she followed that with a PhD on climate change as her initial intention was to work in the oil and gas industry. When there was nothing available in her field in oil and gas she started helping out in local schools, first with science in the primary school, then geology in the secondary school. Teaching suited her so she applied to train to teach with GITEP: “The best bits were getting the job contrast in schools – I loved the comprehensive because when the children ‘get it’ it’s the best feeling! The GITEP staff were immensely supportive (as was my husband) and having completed a PhD (during which time I got married, moved twice, got a puppy and did jury service), the teacher training wasn’t at all stressful. You expect some form of feedback when you’re learning something new and doing my PhD I got used to really scathing criticism. With GITEP it was all constructive criticism with a positive slant – or as teachers put it, ‘even better if…’!”
Phoebe, GITEP trainee and English NQT
Phoebe’s degree in English was from the University of South Wales and, from there, she went on to work as an SEN TA at Cheltenham Bournside School, working with children with physical, learning and emotional challenges. It was a job she really enjoyed but she wanted to take the next step and teach, so went about exploring her options from Worcestershire to Bristol. She chose the GITEP course as it was closest to home and seemed like a good fit and she’s glad she did: “The GITEP staff and the staff in the schools are all amazing. My subject leader was so great and the pathway sessions were really useful! I was terrified in front of a class initially but got over that really quickly.”
Tiffany, GITEP trainee and Drama NQT
Having been told that teacher training would be really hard and she’d have no social life, former youth worker Tiffany was very pleasantly surprised: “I’m really organised which helps but the mentors were amazing and Mandy, Head of Drama at Rednock School is incredible! The pathway sessions were a great safe space to learn from each other and develop confidence. I’m really looking forward to starting at Ridgeway School in Swindon in September.”
Kirsty, GITEP trainee and Modern Foreign Language NQT
Organisation is a key skill in teaching and Kirsty, too, found it useful. She was accepted on the Modern Foreign Language course on the strength of her French degree and, using an online course, she learned Spanish in the summer holidays before the course started. She found everybody on her placements at Tewkesbury School and Sir Thomas Rich’s really supportive: “The subject pathway sessions were a real highlight. They gave us all a great opportunity to debrief and share ideas.” She’ll be teaching French at Pershore High School in Worcestershire in September and can’t wait to get stuck in.