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Our Vision:

We aspire through our actions to raise learners’ self-belief and expectation, supporting them to maintain a healthy sense of well-being whilst reaching their educational achievement potential. There is no profession more giving than the teaching profession and the work of teachers must centre on improving the life chances of all children in their care. Such a simple and noble aspiration is often the reason people enter the profession, and for those who stay in the profession it is the enduring principle behind their work. As new teachers embarking on a challenging and rewarding career, they will be uniquely placed to contribute to a just and decent society where diversity is valued and celebrated. This guiding principle is fundamental to our aspiration for our Associate Teachers (ATs), and their achievements are its realisation.

Our programmes and partnership enshrine this principle and so our Associate Teachers are motivated and dedicated to learn through it. The high-quality training and education that we provide as an ITE (Initial Teacher Education) partnership, enables Associate Teachers to translate this principle into their classroom practice. This is not a process that ends in the achievement of ECT/NQT status, but one which affords opportunities to continue to learn throughout one’s life and career. In this way, also, it is a principle which guides all stakeholders involved in the initiation of new teachers, whether they are children, pupils and students in schools and colleges or whether they are mentors, tutors and other colleagues. We acknowledge that we continue to learn, develop and improve our practices all the time and that this development and the sharing of the collective wisdom and research accrued through it is what maintains and upholds our mission.


Our Principles:

The importance of subject

Subject-specific training has always been a central feature of our ITE programmes and increasingly a distinguishing feature in comparison to the sector more widely.  We have nevertheless re-emphasised and updated the place of subject specialisms in the new programmes.  Subject associations and others (Carter, 2015; Ofsted, 2020) have called for subject specific training to be prioritised in ITE programmes and we have responded to this by making extensive provisions for the development of subject-related content, pedagogical and curriculum knowledge in our new programmes.  Side by side with this we are also looking to develop the contributions that our partners can make in the area of subject pedagogical and curriculum development, especially given that they are under pressure to enrich their subject curricula due to new inspection frameworks (Ofsted, 2019).  By creating greater interaction between school-based subject curricula and pedagogy and university inputs, there will be a rich context and structure for the development of ATs’ subject knowledge. 

The importance of inclusivity

We recognise that teachers can be agents of change in reducing inequalities in education (Hattie, 2009; OECD, 2005). Our inclusive programmes aim to prepare teachers with a grounding in inclusive pedagogy that considers, among other things, social context and culture (Essex, Alexiadou, & Zwosdiak-Myers, 2019) so that they are able to become agents of social justice (Pantic & Florian, 2015). This reflects the UNESCO (2009) definition of inclusive practice: ‘a process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics and learning expectations of the students and communities, eliminating all forms of discrimination’. Our programmes are therefore designed to develop teachers who work together to examine their own beliefs, and reflect on their own pedagogic practice in order to address underachievement and build an inclusive community. Key to this is developing trainees’ understanding of current legislation and best practice in relation to teaching children from diverse backgrounds and with diverse needs. Associate Teachers explore current understanding in child development (from 0–25) and related issues so that they are able to plan for and assess the age for which they are training to teach. There is an expectation that all Associate Teachers leave the course with an understanding of current SEND practice in relation to the most pertinent issues, based on the most recent legislation and research, so that they are able to support SEND within the classroom. We believe that this is best achieved through discrete professional development sessions alongside embedded inclusive pedagogy taught in all subject-specific sessions. We also set an expectation that they will continue to professionally develop their understanding of SEND and SEND related issues through their career (Carter, 2015). 

Enquiry as a model of professional development

A number of recent and seminal studies into teacher education have advocated models of professional development focused on enquiry and ongoing research (Stenhouse, 1975; Schon, 1987; Wideen, Mayer-Smith, & Moon, 1998; Pollard, 2008; McNamara & Murray, 2013; Gewirtz, 2013; Furlong, 2013; Burn & Mutton, 2015; Tatto & Furlong, 2015; Darling-Hammond, 2017). The recommendations vary between models of critically reflective practice (Schon, 1987; Pollard, 2008), models of teachers as researchers (Stenhouse, 1975; Kemmis, 1993; 2003), or models of clinical practice within ITE (Burn & Mutton, 2015). The principle that teachers’ pedagogical decision making should be based on as much knowledge and evidence as can be obtained at any one time holds true in all cases. There is emerging evidence that these models of teacher education are more effective at developing professional identities, and at maintaining retention than models of purely competency-based professional learning (Burn & Mutton, 2015; Darling-Hammond, 2017). Nevertheless, we have a system of practitioner competencies framed in the Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education, 2013) and we have to ensure that our ATs confidently and consistently meet these standards before we can recommend for QTS. We have therefore designed all ITE programmes so that the first entry into placement for the ATs focuses very much on developing techniques for ATs to learn about the placement and the settings therein rather than prematurely invoking methods to measure and assess AT competence. This initial period of placement experience is designed so that ATs can explore the interaction between theory and practice, hone their observations and perceptions of practice, and demonstrate the professional behaviours that are associated with ethical enquiry. These groundings in developing knowledge and understanding of institutional settings will help ATs in the future not only in managing their transition to a contrasting placement, but also into employing schools and their continuing professional development beyond.

Well-being and enabling Associate Teachers to manage their own and others’ learning

Supporting the well-being of our Associate Teachers is a critical factor in their success and is supported by the Faculty’s commitment to developing mental health first aiders among our team. In order to address issues of teacher retention that have been reported nationally (Department for Education, 2018) and underlying reasons for this (Watkins, 2018; Gore, 2018; Perryman, 2018) we will reduce workload, particularly any duplication in the paperwork; we are enhancing the way we use our online system for communication between ATs, school-based mentors and university tutors to make it more streamlined and user-friendly; we continue to populate the timetable in all our ITE programmes with dedicated time to catch up with reading, assignments and lesson planning. We have developed our provisions for supporting ATs in the organisation and management of their own workload to ensure that they have a healthy balance between work and leisure. We have also designed the ITE curriculum so that it can be experienced by ATs as connected and coherent especially between the work they do in school and in university. As has been said above, theory and practice should not be experienced as opposites along a continuum but as an interaction between two halves of the same coin. Through our use of immersion days, serial weeks and days, professional and academic portfolio assessments and micro-enquiries, we are bringing theory and practice together in a more interactive and therefore more fertile and meaningful way.


Safeguarding lies at the heart of ITE, both in terms of the safeguarding of the Associate Teachers and most especially with regard to the children and young people with whom our Associate Teachers work. Throughout the design of the programmes, placements, interactions with staff, and the role of the PAT, ATs will understand the importance of safeguarding in their context, understand how to access help, the procedures of all organisations to enable them to keep themselves and students safe. As Associate Teachers in schools students are governed by the Legal Duty: Section 175/157 Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations (2014), and the Non-Maintained Special Schools (England) Regulations (2015). As such all of the ATs will receive Safeguarding training and updates during each year of the course.There are robust procedures in place to ensure that ATs are able to fulfil their legal responsibilities and take prompt and appropriate action on any safeguarding issues.There will be distinct lectures and seminars on Safeguarding but the resultant issues such as e-safety, reporting concerns, signs of children at risk, FGM, Prevent, and appropriate working practices will be woven through different modules, PAT meetings, and school visits as appropriate.

Creativity in the ITE Curriculum

The arguments for nurturing creativity in education programmes are becoming more compelling not only as a defining feature of humanity (in contrast to the increasing ubiquity of AI), but also in helping support ATs’ well-being and preparing young people for the global challenges that face them (e.g. from migration, climate change and maintaining sustainability) (Lucas & Spencer, 2017). We have already established thriving partnerships with many outside organisations (e.g. Storyhouse, Creative Minds, Phillip Barker Centre for Creative Education, RECAP) and these have yielded many enriching and fascinating projects that have inspired our students and colleagues. These projects have been very effective in helping our ATs to develop their own creative thinking and also in helping them to teach for creativity. We are committed to maintain and embed them more seamlessly into the ITE curriculum. We have, as mentioned, reaffirmed the importance of subject specialisms in all our ITE programmes, it is also important that individual subjects are not disconnected islands bearing little relationship to each other. If the emphasis is returning to the importance of the curriculum in schools, then it is similarly important for connections to be made between individual subjects and for ATs to take a more holistic view of the curriculum as greater than the sum of its parts. 

The Importance of Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring and coaching is at the heart of what we do. Developing effective relationships with ATs as they start, develop and finish their programmes is key to each individual’s success. The achievements each AT makes is facilitated by high quality mentoring and coaching in both University and School-based learning. The principles underpinning our approach to mentoring are:

  • Humanity
  • Dialogue
  • Collaboration
  • Reflection and reflexivity
  • Personalisation
  • Communication

There is a clear correlation between high-quality mentors and high-quality ATs and we are anxious to extend our approach to mentor development and training. This will involve online training through the Abyasa platform, central mentor training sessions provided at university and in partnership settings, a greater mentor training role for link tutors during school visits and the offer of bespoke mentoring modules as part of the PG Certificate in Mentoring and Coaching.  We have focused on the National Standards for School-based Initial Teacher Training Mentors (2016), the Early Career Framework  (2019), the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) core content framework (2019), as well as the key principles informing this revalidation, in order to enable us to move forward, refining mentoring and coaching perspectives within the partnership purposefully.