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

“I love science and my career at the FSS had come to an end owing to government closure. 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 offered a GTP in which they found the trainee teacher the most appropriate placement. This was unique in the GTP offerings at the time (all of the others requiring the student to come to the trainer with a placement already set up!) Also, Comberton were 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 timetable by end of Spring term. As such it was a great taster for the realities of teaching (pleasures and challenges!), and also became invaluable preparation for the ‘full on’ NQT year which follows. Indeed, dealing with the avalanche of activity through careful planning and organising through the GTP year is an essential pre-requisite to being able to take on the challenges of the NQT year!.. and goes someway to enhancing confidence in a full time teaching role. Also, the GTP cohort colleagues proved immensely helpful; the sharing of worries and concerns being key to handling the challenges that arise in a GTP course. Lastly, but by no means least, Comberton provides a network of mentors and support staff across all participating training schools. These become extremely effective day to day guides and the ‘go to’ resource for trainees needing help and advice in both teaching lessons and handling the demands of the GTP course.

Having attained QTS in June 2013, I secured a science teaching post at Freeman College in Buntingford, East Herts, where I teach Yr 9 Physics, Chemistry and Maths, GCSE Biology, Physics and Chemistry, and A level Biology. It’s a great school! – and I intend to stay in teaching now until retirement.”

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

“From personal experience, the teachers that I remember, and the lessons that I most enjoyed, were the subjects that I pursued in my degree and thereafter as a career. With this in mind alongside being able to make a difference and inspire the lives of our young people, 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 teacher started with volunteer work at the Saffron Walden County High School after leaving university. This led to me securing a role of a Learning Support Assistant, which I undertook for one year before gaining a place on the Graduate Teacher Program. Training on the Graduate Teacher Program allowed me to train in an environment that was familiar, building upon existing relationships with both 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 with Kath Goudie. The Graduate Training Program exposed and nurtured me through vast breadth of experiences, all of which can be attributed to my success as a newly qualified teacher, and which left me feeling prepared and confident for a future in teaching.

At the end of my training, I was successful in securing a post as a Teacher of Design and Technology at The Saffron Walden County High School where I am currently completing my NQT year, soaking up new challenges and striving to develop my practice further.”

John Allen - Business Studies Teacher, Comberton Village College

“After University I worked at a specialist inclusion unit for students with Aspergers Syndrome for 2 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 begin teaching early on, however the support from school and course based mentors is fantastic 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.

I am now teaching my subjects, mostly to A level students, at the successful new sixth form at Comberton Village College. We have recently said goodbye to our first cohort of year 13 students and it has been immensely satisfying seeing their results and destinations into employment and further education. I am still enjoying the challenges that teaching brings, both in and out of the classroom, and feel grateful that I was given the opportunity to train with the SCITT at the time that I did.”

Neil Jones - English and Drama NQT, Comberton Village College

“I’m currently in my NQT year, working as Teacher of English with Drama for the Comberton Academy Trust. This has me dividing my time between Comberton Village College and the newly built Cambourne Village College. I couldn’t have hoped for a better place in which to learn my craft.

Previous to training, I had spent around ten years as a professional actor. This, inevitably, also meant that I spent a lot of time doing other things, from teaching singing and accompanying dance classes to working in a PhD in literature and theology. Teaching steadily seemed to me, though, 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, making it clear that I’d like ultimately like to train there, too. Comberton has a first class record as a training school (it was one of the first nationally to be established); and my experience of training, in the following year, was as I’d expected it would be: professional, thorough and supportive.

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

So, now grappling with the increased responsibility and timetable of an NQT, lessons learned during training will frequently pop back, either when planning or responding to one of the many situations involved in this hugely complex, hugely rewarding profession. 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 your Mentor, Subject Mentor, Professional Tutor and Senior Tutor. 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. The job for the trainee is to ‘repurpose’ all this capital. Kath and the team will help you do that.”

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

“Redundancy was the catalyst that made me take the leap from IT to teaching. I had a great job in a small IT consultancy that wound up following a senior partner’s illness. Desperately sad at the time, it did prompt me to assess what I wanted from my career: I was looking for more from what I did. I wanted a job where people would care if I did not turn up of a morning; one where you could see the effects of your efforts; a job with variety and challenge. If I am honest, these hopes were based more on optimism than experience, but teaching has delivered in every one of these areas, and surpassed all expectations. 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. Variety - In the last week alone, I have helped coach rugby, mentored an SD trainee for CTSN, guided a number of university applications, reassured a student struggling with the demands of transition to 6th form… oh… and taught some science!

Training with the partnership was a no-brainer. At nearly 40, I felt heading back to university would feel like a step away from where I wanted to be. Prejudice probably, but in hindsight it was definitely the right decision. 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 (the induction following the training year) seemed much less fraught for me than for those who qualified with a PGCE: 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. I now mentor on the SDS Programme and feel privileged to have come full circle, being able to help others qualify. I 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 course with Cambridge Teaching Schools Network SCITT seemed like a good option financially. I was also keen to specialise in maths, and it was the only course in my region prepared to recognise that I could have a passion for and ability in the subject without my first degree being in maths. (I completed some Open University maths courses to supplement my subject knowledge prior to applying to train.)

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.

I teach from Year 7 to Year 13, and among my other responsibilities are being a learning champion (helping to spread good practice across the school) and the whole-school numeracy coordinator. I’ve also been involved in research projects to help develop my teaching and hopefully teaching elsewhere. In all of this, the grounding I received through the CTSN salaried route (formally the GTP route) has been invaluable.”