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Raising standards and closing gaps through initial teacher training

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Date published 01 December 2022

Ian Bauckham CBE is CEO of Tenax Schools Trust and leads Teach Kent and Sussex, a founding partner of our Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme.

Here, he talks about why his team chose to work with Ambition Institute on ITT and how the change in teacher training will have an impact on the profession and pupils.

Teacher training needs to be aligned to the evidence to benefit the least advantaged pupils most.” This is the mantra of Ian Bauckham and his team. It’s also what led him to want to partner with Ambition Institute in delivering ITT at the multi-academy trust he heads up.

“I was impressed by Ambition's fidelity to the evidence base, the quality of the programme design and the extent to which that reflected the evidence,” says Ian.

“We’ve worked with Ambition since the pilot of the Early Career Framework (ECF) in 2019, so we knew their excellent track record in well-designed curriculum and properly sequenced training materials. When it came to making a decision about ITT, we had to think strategically. We quickly reached the conclusion that we wanted to enter into a partnership with Ambition Institute for ITT as well.”

“The partnership with Ambition has got the potential to really speed up the progress”

Ian has a 40-year career in education, including as a French and German teacher, and over a decade as a secondary school head. After becoming interested in training and the way schools work as institutions, he led pieces of work of wider significance for the education system, including the ITT market review. It’s for this kind of work that Ian was awarded a CBE for services to education in 2017.

Now, Ian’s main role is CEO of Tenax Schools Trust, which has eight schools and 3,400 pupils across Kent and East Sussex. Tenax became a Teaching School Hub (TSH) for east and west Kent in 2021.There are significant areas of coastal isolation and disadvantage in the area covered, especially in the east. Ian also leads Teach Kent and Sussex which is part of the Tenax Schools Trust and became a School Centred Initial Teacher Training provider in 2016. In 2019, it was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Teach Kent and Sussex train around 70 trainee teachers a year, both primary and secondary. The Trust has now become a founding partner of Ambition Institute’s ITT programme, which will launch in September 2024.

“We knew we needed to marshal all the evidence and complex needs that teachers in these early months of training have into a coherent training curriculum, with properly designed practice materials and opportunities – this is a very significant task indeed” says Ian.

“The partnership with Ambition has got the potential to really speed up the progress we’ve made. It will help us get fully-aligned, detailed and planned curricula much more quickly, and the personnel that work with trainees, like mentors, up to speed much faster.”

"Good teacher training is a prime driver for raising standards and closing gaps."

Sequenced professional development, developed together

Ian says that part of the appeal of partnering with Ambition Institute to deliver ITT was that doing so offers teachers consistent career development. This is because, as a TSH, Tenax is in a partnership with Ambition Institute to deliver the ECF and National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). Trainees, from early career teachers to school and trust leaders, can have access to a ‘golden thread’ of professional development, building and developing their practice from the same evidence-based framework.

“Our decision to work with the same provider across all three phases will mean that teachers in our area will have a truly seamless, sequenced and powerful career-long professional development offer,” says Ian.

As a founding partner of our ITT programme, the relationship between Ambition Institute and Teach Kent and Sussex will be an active one. Ian and his team will contribute to shaping the ITT programme.

“Ambition will be supporting us with mentor training, curriculum design and training materials,” he says. “But this is not a one-way street: we will be feeding in on the basis of on-the-ground experience to help Ambition’s offer to be world class, not just on paper, but in practice too.”

Developing mental models

Chairing the ITT market review helped Ian to realise that honing a world class programme was a large, complex job. “Unless we had a team of researchers, course designers, materials designers, training designers, I don't see how we could have done it to the vision we had in mind,” says Ian. “Ambition’s team is very strong and offers the whole golden thread which is really important.”

Ian says this will mean trainee teachers will receive the support they need to develop mental models in the touchstone concepts that they need to be effective practitioners. An example of this might be learning how to deliver a clear explanation to your class, how long and complex an explanation can be and how important is it to link something new that you're explaining to what's gone before.

“If you don't understand anything about cognitive load theory, you won't know how complex or simple to make an explanation,” says Ian. “The ITT programme with Ambition will cover this.”

Another reason that Ian and his Trust went with Ambition Institute to deliver ITT for their teachers was because of the support the programme offers for minority subjects. He says this is an important benefit of working in a larger partnership and community, where there are more opportunities to share workload and get feedback.

“Having worked with Ambition on the ECF, we have seen how expertly designed the programme can be in comparison with what an individual school or small to medium trust can do by itself.”

Mentoring is also a crucial part of the programme and was a priority when the Trust was choosing a provider. Ian’s team know that a lot is expected of those who act as mentors in schools. Through their experience with the ECF, they have seen how Ambition Institute’s specific curriculum makes mentors’ workload manageable. For example, the cutting-edge professional learning management system (LMS) used on our programmes takes mentors step-by-step through examples of effective targets. This means mentors can spend valuable time modelling a target, checking a teacher has understood it, and helping them apply it in the classroom.

“It’s through close guidance and the feedback loop that trainees can see what they're doing for what it really is,” says Ian. “The partnership with Ambition will mean our large number of brilliant mentors are absolutely immersed in fully-aligned mentor training. They understand the curriculum trainees are being stepped through as they learn to become teachers. The training the mentors get to do itself injects valuable expertise into their schools, ultimately for the benefit of their pupils.”


Raising standards and closing gaps

Ian says the partnership with Ambition inspires confidence that new teachers will receive the best possible training. Importantly, he hopes that ITT will help with teacher retention and inspire a new generation with a passion for education.

“I've had a great career in education. I have no regrets at all,” says Ian. “I hope that other people see what great professional support there is in the early years of teaching and what a rewarding career it can be. My prime hope is that lots of people come forward to train to be teachers. Investing in, and improving, the quality of training and professional development that teachers and school leaders receive, is the surest way to build teaching as a profession, recruit and retain great people.”

Training these engaged professionals through the new ITT brings Ian back to the idea behind the mantra of the DfE market review: the least advantaged pupils benefit most from well-trained teachers.

“Good teacher training is a prime driver for raising standards and closing gaps,” says Ian. “The least advantaged young people suffer most from suboptimal teaching. But if you really optimise teaching, the people that benefit most are the least advantaged.

“It is absolutely worth investing upfront in a teacher's career because you will reap rewards later.”

Interested in partnering with Ambition Institute on our Initial Teacher Training programme? Express your interest through our partnerships form.

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