Danielle Sloyan, Director of the RSA Academies' Teaching School Alliance, and Teresa Wilson, Director of Initial Teacher Training within the alliance, explain the distinctive mission of the TSA.
Now that it is possible to train to be a teacher directly in schools, it is an exciting time for everyone involved with the RSA Academies’ Teaching School – establishing the Teaching School Alliance has brought not only the RSA academies but also our strategic partner schools closer together through a common purpose. The common purpose being high quality career development of teaching and support staff, no matter what level they are at in their career – whether a trainee teacher, a teaching assistant, a teacher, a learning mentor, middle or senior leader, business manager or aspiring head – all as creative educators.
Our vision is to recruit, develop and retain exceptional people, which will in turn transform life chances for our young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. By working creatively together through the Teaching School, we will establish and embed a shared standard of excellence and innovative practice across the West Midlands and beyond. If we are providing excellent training opportunities for our staff, we are improving the learning and outcomes for the young people we work with.
Our mission is to ‘realise potential, achieve excellence and broaden opportunity’. This is exactly what is planned within the six main areas that the Teaching School focuses on, the ‘Big 6’ as they are known in the teaching school world are:
- Continuing professional development (CPD)
- Initial teacher training (ITT)
- School to school support
- Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE)
- Succession planning
- Talent management
We are excited about the power of great leadership and the impact a leader can have on the lives of others. All teachers are leaders within their classroom and our CPD and talent management strategy ensures that teachers at all stages of their career have access to a range of leadership development programmes. We currently have staff completing their National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) and Senior Leadership (NPQSL) courses. We currently have five SLEs in variety of areas but we also have another eight colleagues currently going through the application process who have at least 2 years’ leadership experience in a particular specialism, for example maths, school business management, initial teacher training.
But what makes the RSA Academies Teaching School Alliance different from other teaching schools?
Firstly, we are led by three outstanding schools each located in different areas in the West Midlands so the areas that we cover and able to share our good practice with is a geographically a lot larger than other teaching schools. Additionally, there is a lot more opportunity for support across different areas of school life and a larger number of specialisms than just one lead school could offer.
During the set-up of the Teaching School, we have ensured that research and development (R&D) is at its heart. We believe that effective research and development begins with our students and a drive to improve their learning experiences and educational outcomes. We think R&D is very important for all schools because the power to transform education comes when schools collaborate and share knowledge – this is part of creating an active R&D culture in our schools.
A recent R&D project called Research Rich Schools gave us an opportunity to lead other Teaching School Alliances in the development of a research framework for schools to self-evaluate the R&D practice in their schools and the practical advice to further enhance practice.
We are also the first teaching school in the country to support an investigation into supplementary schools. One of our aims for this research project will be to better connect supplementary schools with mainstream schools, especially around collaborative approaches to improving teaching and learning.
The relationship we have with the RSA brings endless opportunities and unique benefits for our students and staff. There is strong encouragement and support for teachers as researchers and it is here that there is also opportunity to have a wider influence on education. The RSA has a long history of influencing education – it had a key role in establishing girls’ education in Victorian times, and introduced the first public exams. The RSA continues to play a key role in education debates and thinking, with opportunities for teachers working within the Teaching School to be part of this. Both students and staff have been offered a platform to share ideas and spoken at high profile events.
There are also opportunities to work with RSA Fellows, for example, in a family wide project. Arrow Vale RSA Academy and Ipsley CE RSA Academy have recently been creatively working with Helen Storey RDI through the Catalytic Teaching and Learning project with her ‘catalytic’ jeans which purify the air around them, and Whitley Academy staff and students worked with Stephen Jones RDI on a hat design project during their art lessons. These are valuable creative experiences for students who are able to talk about these events in personal statements and in interviews, giving students’ both confidence and a demonstrable engagement with their learning.
Calling all potential teachers
We are recruiting talented individuals to the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme to become aspiring teachers for the next generation. The first cohort of trainees will come through the system in September 2016.
We will be hosting our own Initial Teacher Training open day on 10 October 2015 at Holyhead School from 11- 2pm. If you know anyone interested in attending the event please ask them to register their interest on the RSA Academies’ Teaching School Alliance website.
We are also offering taster days across the RSA Family of Academies, which will give potential trainees an insight into school life and provide them with the opportunity to meet key staff, newly qualified teachers and trainees, as well as having the chance to observe lessons and gain a real feeling for what teaching and innovative practice looks like.
We strongly believe in school-led training and will provide one-to-one support and a comprehensive and tailored training programme, which will ensure that all trainees are fully supported during their training year. Our programmes last for one academic year, from September through to July, during which time trainees will undertake two placements across our Teaching School Alliance, allowing for collaborative teaching and creative learning opportunities across our RSA Family of Academies and RSA Fellows.
We will be offering 2 training routes – School Direct Training route and School Direct Salaried route. We are also looking to offer more bespoke training routes such as the Assessment Only route into teaching to retain unqualified staff who want to develop their career further. These routes have been designed to ensure all trainees receive a rich experience of hands-on training covering all aspects of school life from the outset as well as working with local universities such as Birmingham City University. In this way, we can make sure the trainees are receiving the most up to date training and support, which will allow us to grow our own creative teachers for the future.
We would love to hear from any potential trainees you may know, please ask them to get in touch by visiting us on www.rsaacademiesteachingschool.org.uk.
The RSA Academies’ Teaching School Alliance recruits and trains new entrants to the profession, identifies leadership potential and provides support for schools across the West Midlands, transforming outcomes for young people.
Our Teaching School Alliance is led by three outstanding schools, all of which are designated National Teaching Schools: Arrow Vale RSA Academy in Redditch; Holyhead School in Birmingham; and Whitley Academy in Coventry. We also work in partnership with the RSA and with secondary and primary schools across the region, driving action research projects, undertaking creative innovations in teaching and optimising the talents and commitment of our staff to transform outcomes for young people.
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