David Chetcuti-Ganado

I always knew I wanted to be in the classroom but it took me a while to make the move from being a teaching assistant to being a teacher. It was in September 2016 that I began my training with Cambridge Teaching School Network (CTSN), and whilst it wasn’t easy to move out of my comfort zone, I felt I had the support I needed from my CTSN mentor with weekly meetings to help ease the transition.

I worked directly in the classroom from my first day and this was balanced with training and reflecting time throughout the whole year. My training was diversified when I could observe my colleagues, see how they taught and how they handled different situations.

There was support from all directions on the CTSN course. I had my CTSN tutor, my school tutor and a mentor. Everyone who was training in the same year met at Comberton Village College once a week for a guest speaker and workshop. It was a great opportunity to discuss issues and ideas with people in the same position as myself, as well as sharing our real-life classroom experiences.

From day one I had my own class and being able to build the teacher-pupil relationship throughout the year was one of my favourite aspects from the course. I left my class for six weeks for a short placement in a contrasting school environment which was a really rounding experience to work in a new environment and with new colleagues.

The training year has meant I’m really good at planning and feeling prepared for the lessons ahead. Whilst the job has a high work load, once you’re on top of the game and use your mentors, it’s got to be one of the most rewarding jobs out there! 

Sophie Igoe

I started my training with Cambridge Teaching Schools Network (CTSN) in September 2013. I decided to take the Salaried School Direct route to train to become a secondary school English teacher and I was offered a job at Chesterton Community College, where I did the majority of my placements, once I had qualified. In the mean time I have been Head of English and since September 2017 I was appointed as an Assistant Head Teacher at the college.

I’d previously always worked in support roles in the school as a teaching assistant and a support worker; however I always wanted to do more and work directly with the students. When I was looking at different training routes, the CTSN route stood out as being the most logical. I met members of staff at the CTSN open evenings and they were all so friendly and supportive which really encouraged me to apply. I also knew someone else on the course which made it a lot easier for me.

The CTSN course was very supportive. I was linked to so many people throughout my training who were so friendly and competent in their jobs; I always felt I had someone to go to should I need them. The mentors on the course were also very approachable and there were so many people at different levels who I could get help and advice from. I liked the observation assessments where someone from outside was watching you, I really learned from their comments. It also helped me to build up my portfolio and develop myself within the confines of the course. Both of the placements were so welcoming. I really felt a part of Chesterton Community College, where I was for all but six weeks, and I decided to stay there once I had qualified!

I felt really prepared for my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year. The way you’re treated in the training year means you’re ready to go when you qualify and the last training session we had involved talking to previous NQT’s which was really helpful as they gave really usable advice. There was a gradual increase in the teaching load from training to the NQT year so it didn’t feel like a massive jump.

I’d highly recommend CTSN to anyone looking to train to teach. The clarity and organisation of the course makes it feel like a really easy process. If I could give one piece of advice to future CTSN students it would be to set yourself strict deadlines so you get the work-life balance. 

Emma Waldock,

“I had inspirational teachers at school so teaching was always a career I had in the back of my mind. I studied English at University and became a teaching assistant for the Comberton Academy Trust for three years after graduating. My colleagues knew that teaching was my dream and pushed me to look into training through Cambridge Teaching School Network (CTSN) where I did the Salaried ITT route.

Some of the teachers I had worked with had been through the CTSN programme and recommended it, so I knew I was in safe hands. I didn’t want to go back to University after three years away from studying and I knew I wanted to get started on training straight away.

CTSN quickly immersed me in the working environment and I was delighted to feel like a real part of the team and not just a trainee. I was given responsibilities early on and, although I was consistently learning new things, my wellbeing was highly valued by CTSN and I felt really looked after along the way.

The best bit about my training was the amount of people that I had the chance to work with and talk to through CTSN. From the mentors on my placements to the various training providers who taught us, there were so many chances to meet fantastic teachers who inspired me further. I also loved that CTSN only run two placements, which were in contrasting schools; the former was for one term and the latter lasted two terms. This really gave me the chance to get settled in to a school and to build invaluable connections and networks within my placement schools. I managed to secure a job at the end of my training and I believe this was one of the key reasons as to why.

By the end of my training, I felt very prepared for my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year. Throughout the process CTSN gradually increased the workload so that the progression felt natural. Lesson feedback slowly became more rigorous and encouraged me to be reflective on what I was doing so I could be the best teacher I could be.

My one piece of advice for future students would be to not be so hard on yourself – to push yourself and take risks but also to be reflective, not negative, when things go wrong. Even embarking on the journey of being a teacher is incredible and you should be proud of yourself for that.”

Helena Marsh Executive Principal Linton Village College

“As a long standing partnership school, Linton Village College works closely with CTSN to provide trainee teachers with professional and academic training in preparation for their future roles in education. The well-established network of partnership schools within CTSN offers an outstanding provision of professional expertise and support for all trainees and the concept of ‘growing your own’ and nurturing the talents of the next generation of teachers is a privilege to be part of.”

Phil Norris - NQT currently working at Freeman College, Buntingford

“After 30 years of working, and having seen the wonderful progression of my children through school – and the fun they had – I decided I would love to get into teaching science at GCSE and A level.

Comberton Village College offered a Graduate Teacher Placement (GTP) and the college was pretty thorough in ensuring that prospective trainee teachers spent a good 2 weeks at a taster school to get a good feel for whether they would be up to the challenge!

Training was an excellent mix of pedagogic theory and ‘hands on’ front of class training, which ultimately ramped up to 60% of the timetable by the end of the spring term. It was a great taster for the realities of teaching (pleasures and challenges!). It also became invaluable preparation for the ‘full on’ NQT year which follows. The GTP year helped to prepare me for the planning, organisation and challenges of the NQT year.

The people I met on the GTP year proved immensely helpful; the sharing of worries and concerns was key to handling the challenges that arose on the GTP course. Comberton provided a network of mentors and support staff. These become extremely effective day to day guides and the ‘go to’ resource when we needed help and advice in both teaching lessons and handling the demands of the GTP course.

Lauren Cox - Teacher of Design and Technology at Saffron Walden County High School

“From personal experience, I firmly believe that a well-rounded education is the best gift that you can give a child, and that it is one that will make a lasting imprint on their lives. This is the reason for pursuing a career that is both rewarding and worthwhile.

My journey towards becoming a teacher started with volunteer work at Saffron Walden County High School after leaving University. I became a Learning Support Assistant for one year before gaining a place on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) at the school where I was able to build on existing relationships with colleagues and students.

I was able to develop my teaching with the support of a huge network of many excellent and experienced practitioners, both in my placement schools, and during the study days at Comberton Village College. The GTP exposed and nurtured me through a vast breadth of experiences, all of which can be attributed to my success as an NQT, and left me feeling prepared and confident for a future in teaching.”

John Allen - Business Studies Teacher, Comberton Village College

“After University I worked at a specialist inclusion unit for students with Aspergers Syndrome for two years, this gave me a great introduction to what teaching was all about and I was soon fortunate to gain a place on the SCITT teaching Business Studies and Economics at Newport Free Grammar School. The course was hard work and quite intense but this made it excellent preparation for the early years of teaching. You are in the classroom right from the start, and the support from school and course based mentors is fantastic at allowing things to move at your own pace with tailored training to individual needs. Being employed by one host school really makes you feel like part of the team, rather than an outsider, but you also get the opportunity to see how things are done in a contrasting school for a short placement as well.”

Neil Jones - English and Drama NQT, Comberton Village College

“Teaching steadily seemed to me to be the best use of my interests and talents; and it became clear that I needed to get on the road to training and qualification. Once I had decided that I was going to teach, I applied for a cover supervisor position at Comberton Village College, making it clear that I’d like ultimately like to train there, too. Comberton has a first class record as a training school and through my experience of training there, it was every I’d expected it would be: professional, thorough and supportive.

The two major benefits of the course for me were the regular conference days with fellow trainees, and the opportunity to work at a second placement school for a half-term. The conferences allowed trainees to build supportive relationships and to share our experiences. The placement gave an interesting, fresh perspective on the teaching practice we had built so far at our first placement school. At my second placement at Chesterton Community College, I was very fortunate to have in-depth support and challenge from my subject mentor.

In my NQT year, I’ve frequently referred to what I’ve learned during my training whether it be planning or dealing with situations. I can’t imagine that any other provider would give you the breadth or depth of theoretical and practical training, nor the level of support you get from members of staff on the course. All of those involved in providing training and support are aware that, as more senior graduates and often career changers, you have an awful lot of experience and expertise to bring to the teacher’s role and to the pupils’ learning.”

Robin Griffiths - Head of Physics, Saffron Walden County High School

“I realised I wanted a job where you could see the effects of your efforts; a job with variety and challenge and teaching seemed to fulfil that. I’m privileged to work with young people: they are the most honest and responsive co-workers I have ever had, and every day is a new challenge.

Training with CTSN was an obvious choice for me. At nearly 40, I felt heading back to university would feel like a step away from where I wanted to be. I got to know the job in my training year, rather than studying it, and for me this made all the difference. My NQT year seemed much less fraught for me, I knew the systems and the pressures of day-to-day teaching, and felt prepared for them.

It is a big step. Whatever your view of teaching - and we are all ‘experts’ having all been to school ourselves – that view will be challenged by your training, and you will deconstruct and reconstruct your ideas a number of times. This can be disquieting, but the strength of the course is the support from those who do the job. Learn to trust the process, and the course will allow you to take a personalised journey to qualification where you construct your own voice as a teacher.

It has been a successful five years, and I am now Head of Physics at Saffron Walden County High School. still – often unconsciously – apply the skills and principles I learned on the course and remain indebted to all those who helped me train on this wonderful course.”

Jonathan Dunning - Maths Mentor at The Leventhorpe School, Hertfordshire

“I moved into teaching in my 30s, with a young family to support, so the salaried SCITT course with CTSN was a good option financially. I was also keen to specialise in maths, and it was the only course in my region to recognise that I could have a passion for and ability in the subject without my first degree being in maths.

It turned out to be a fantastic choice. The schools at which I trained provided me with friendly, supportive and thoughtful mentors who took a genuine interest in bringing me on as a teacher. They provided helpful ideas about how to approach lessons, and engaged creatively with the ideas I brought to the classroom myself. I was impressed with the sensitivity and insight of their comments, and the way they helped me develop my practice while still allowing me space to grow into my own teaching style.

The people running the course were equally approachable and supportive, and the course itself was well-structured, with an integration of theory and practice, and a sensible level of written assignments.

I’m now in my fourth year of teaching, working at Leventhorpe in Hertfordshire. I’ve been responsible for mentoring PGCE trainees for the last three years, and I’ve tried to bring the same enthusiasm and consideration from which I benefitted to those trainees.