School Direct is a new and hands-on way of becoming a teacher. It combines two professional placements at schools with day release training sessions at university to equip you to be the best teacher possible. The Brooke Weston Trust is seeking to recruit top quality graduates to join the year-long programme and work in our schools. Here's what some of our previous primary trainees, all of whom have secured their first teaching jobs within the Brooke Weston Trust, had to say about their School Direct experiences:
Lauren Culbert said: "I studied planning and development at Nottingham Trent University then worked for a house builder for six months but I really didn't enjoy sitting in front of a computer every day. My mum is a teacher and I had always gone on school trips with her. I asked if I could volunteer in the school to see if it was something I liked. Then I got a job as a Teaching assistant. I did that for six months and loved it so that is why I applied for the course as it was the right career for me."
"I like the fact that it is more practical based, rather than spending a lot of time in university. I have learned better by being in school all the time. Obviously the bits at university have been helpful because you can put into practice the things you have learned but I definitely preferred being here at school for the majority of the time. I have got to know how the school runs, whereas if you have placements in a lot of different schools it might be harder to adapt to all the different ways they work."
"My first placement was at this school from September until Christmas. From January to March I did a placement at a second school and halfway through March I came back here for the end of my training."
"At the university you learned the theory behind teaching and they gave us activities to try with the children. We also did topics like behaviour management, general running of classes and assessment. With day release the information is fresh in your mind. If anyone else is thinking of applying for this route I would say go for it. You are in the school all the time and you learn on the job which, for me, is better than doing it in a lecture room."
"It is quite a supportive cohort. We have a Facebook group where, if anyone has got any questions everybody really helps each other. My highlight has been working at this school as my class is really lovely. Another highlight was being offered a job so I am with the same class next year as their full time teacher. I just love being able to get up in the morning and wanting to go to work. It is very fulfilling."
Madeline Willis said: "I had worked for about 12 years in communications jobs and wanted to do something completely different, not just sitting behind a desk going to meetings all day. I wanted something a bit more independent that involved doing things with people.
"Primary phase is the foundation of all learning, it is nice to get them young and interested in their learning, doing the groundwork for everything that comes later. I was so used to working that it was attractive to have that routine of being in a workplace pretty much all day every day, with one day a week out at university.
"It was what I was used to rather than going back to university full time. If I had been university based I don't think I would have been ready to start teaching in September. Even now it is quite a daunting prospect, but very exciting."
"My first placement was in Year 2, In School Direct you have most of the year in one class in one school and the second placement is for nine or ten weeks in a different school and a different key stage."
"I would recommend School Direct. I was teaching by week three or four and the first time you only do one lesson, it feels like the biggest thing in the world. It built up quite slowly. A lot of people who have done School Direct have already worked in a school in some capacity and if they had wanted to they would have been free to start much earlier, but I stuck to the guidelines because that was when I was feeling ready for it. As the first placement is for such an extended period of time, you know you are going to be at the one school for most of the year you feel part of the school team."
Hannah Tibbs said: "I always wanted to teach. Kids are brilliant and there is never a dull moment with children around, they are fantastic. Each day is different and that is what I wanted. One hour I will be teaching English and the next hour I will be outside doing rounders. It is great and something that I always wanted to do."
"I finished university, took a year out and worked in secondary school then got onto the School Direct. I love teaching all the different subjects and in primary you get to be so creative with the lessons so I think it is better for me. I am glad I took the School Direct route. It has taught me how to be super organised for when I start teaching full time next year."
"If we ever need any time to go over anything we are not sure of, marking work, helping children or dealing with behaviour problems there is always someone there that we can talk to. We have got quite a strong team in our school so I feel quite comfortable. Everyone has been really welcoming. I have got lots of ideas from my other placement that I want to bring to this school and I have also taken ideas from here, so putting them together you get the best of both."
"I definitely feel equipped to have my own class now because of the School Direct route. We have been in class pretty much every week and I think if I had done the PGCE I wouldn't have felt ready at all. A highlight is just knowing that I am working in a school, being with children and adults that care about them and having the opportunity to do what I always wanted to do which is teach, I absolutely love it. I can't think of anything else I'd rather do."
Tom Driver - School Direct trainee Tom Driver opted to go down the primary route as he wants to teach a range of subjects. He got plenty of experience as he worked at Peckover Primary School in Wisbech for a year before embarking on the programme.
He said: 'My partner suggested I do two weeks of volunteering to start experiencing school life. Originally I planned to go down the PGCE route in Lincolnshire but after about two weeks the headteacher asked whether I wanted to work as an unqualified teacher for the first year and then train via the School Direct programme. The main benefit was that I had the classroom experience before starting the course. I know not all School Direct students have done an unqualified year, but gaining that experience was really helpful.'
'One of the main advantages is that via the PGCE route you have to spend more time at university and with the School Direct system you are in school from day one. You build up more of a rapport with staff members and you definitely feel more part of the team. The workload is probably a little bit more for School Direct students because you are considered a staff member rather than a trainee and you have all the extra responsibility and it makes the training a bit more thorough and in depth.
'Originally I was drawn to secondary but with primary the idea of teaching all the subjects is good. I like the idea of teaching a range of subjects. Primary specialists from the Trust came and helped me out for a few planning days. I was observed and given really useful feedback that helped. They really guided me and gave me a good start. I'm sure I made a few mistakes but you learn from them! I recommend the School Direct route because you learn on the job, it is a quicker process of picking things up and you are completely immersed in it. You gain the knowledge very quickly but it is a lot of hard work!'
Louise Juckes - Newly qualified teacher Louise Juckes would recommend the School Direct route to those thinking of joining the profession. She studied biochemistry at the University of Leicester before training as a teacher with the Brooke Weston Teaching School. She said: ‘The training was good and really supportive in terms of mentoring. I was at Brooke Weston for my first placement then moved to Corby Business Academy. As they are both part of the same Trust the move felt a bit more familiar and less scary.
'The university tuition was useful because it went through all the theory and it was good to have as an introduction before the first placement. However the best part has been the support I have had from colleagues. My Head of Department was my mentor for my PGCE year, which was great and she has also mentored me through my NQT year. That has been massive in terms of encouragement and support as, without the teachers around me, it could have been emotionally hard.'
It has been quite a journey and amazing working with the students. The main thing is being confident, relaxed and engaging in the classroom. It is tricky at the start but becomes second nature after a bit. You go through a lesson and there's a moment when you think 'I am actually doing this. They are learning!'
As well as my science classes I also have a Year 7 tutor group and I am the work-related learning co-ordinator for the whole school so I co-ordinate all the work experience and promote jobs on electronic screens and noticeboards. I also have to liaise with the careers link in each department and make sure that we integrate careers into the curriculum. It is very exciting.
'I would say to anyone thinking of teaching via the School Direct route to make sure you get experience to be certain that it is something that you really want to do. Quite a lot of people go into the profession not realising the work that is involved, so my advice would be to make sure you get lots of experience first. Teaching and School Direct has been the right choice for me. It is hard but the enjoyable moments more than make up for the effort!'
If you wish to find out more about our courses please contact:Megan Fowler