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Discussing Teacher Training with Professor Anna Lise Gordon

We recently caught up with Professor Anna Lise Gordon, the Director of the Institute of Education at St Mary’s University, to ask her a few questions on the current and future state of teacher training.

How can we recruit more teachers and encourage teacher training as a choice at university?

Everyone – the government, teacher training providers, schools and the media – need to work together to make teaching a profession of choice. There is a need for positive news stories to encourage more people into the teaching profession. We have a collective responsibility to provide support and incentives for teachers to remain in the profession beyond the first few years. This is not necessarily about pay, but about conditions and opportunities for teachers. Teachers will be the best ambassadors for the profession if we get this right! The current application system can also be quite challenging to navigate and, with such a diversity of routes into teaching on offer, simplifying the application process could help with the recruitment of teachers.

What are your top tips for ensuring the retention of teachers?

I have three top tips for ensuring the retention of teachers. Firstly, there needs to be a positive school culture, this is ‘make or break’ for many new teachers. There is a need for a supportive environment, with a balanced workload, so that teachers are given the necessary time and space to develop.

Secondly, there needs to be a focus on early career teachers, not just NQTs but also teachers in their first 3-5 years. There needs to be ongoing structured support for these teachers to nurture them and keep them in the profession.

Lastly, there need to be strong professional learning opportunities for everybody. These opportunities need to be fully embedded in the development journey of a teacher, preferably accredited or certified in some way.

At St Mary’s, what makes the teacher training courses outstanding and how can other institutions achieve this?

Some of the key findings from Ofsted demonstrate why St Mary’s is an outstanding provider of teacher training, as we train about 850 teachers each year. A very strong focus on teacher wellbeing and workload underpins the training at St Mary’s, and we provide personalised provision as needed for our trainee teachers. We are privileged to work with some amazing partnership schools who prioritise the training of the next generation of teachers by providing outstanding mentoring for our trainee teachers during school placements.

We also have a very strong focus on subject knowledge, giving plenty of time for this through the initial teacher training course. This includes time for learning about behaviour management and the pedagogy of teaching. It’s important to put theory and practice together.

What are your thoughts on the new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy?

I welcome the new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, particularly its focus on promoting teaching as a profession for the longer term. It focuses on key areas such as school culture, early career teachers and flexibility of work patterns. These are all key areas of focus for teaching training going into the future.


Read more interviews with sector experts on the IG Schools Blog.

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