After three years working as a nursery Early Years Professional, and six in social work, Lauren Coates decided to become an early years teacher. She chose the School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) course offered by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) – a one-year programme providing Qualified Teacher Status.
Ms Coates began the course in September 2015, and at first spent two days a week studying at CREC in Birmingham, and three in placement. This reduced to one day of lessons towards the end. Classes covered pedagogical knowledge, theoretical perspectives, multi-agency working and special needs. She was in a group of 12, rather than large lectures. ‘Everything is linked to your placement,’ says Ms Coates. ‘If on a Thursday and Friday we looked at safeguarding, the week after we’d have a task to go into placement and see what they were doing on that.’
Ms Coates’ first- and third-term placements were at Allens Croft Children’s Centre nursery, where she worked alongside a teaching assistant. Her second term was in Key Stage 1 at Broadmeadow Junior School, as the course requires experience of both ages. Here she helped teachers with support and planning. The proportion of time SCITT students spend teaching rises each term, from 40 to 80 per cent.
Ms Coates says the move from nursery to Year 2 was challenging. She had no previous experience of teaching Key Stage 1 phonics or of SATs tests. However, she fed this back to CREC, which now provides more support for students in similar positions. ‘Some people found it alright because they’d worked as teaching assistants,’ she says. ‘But your tutors are always there to support you.’
The course also requires students to complete two 5,000-word assignments – a child study and piece on one area of learning. And a mentor observes students in placement at least six times. Applicants must already hold a degree.
Ms Coates is currently working as a newly qualified teacher at St Thomas Centre Nursery School, which belongs to CREC’s Early Years Partnership. She says the course taught her that teaching demands increased responsibility.
‘I’ve got to show progression in these children,’ she says. ‘You’re putting the planning out, leading discussions, and looking for opportunities in learning. You’re listening to the children and looking out for their interests. Understanding your pedagogical knowledge and the theories behind it deepens what you’re doing.’