Five minutes with
Lionheart regularly works with children and young people who have neurodiverse cognitive profiles. Our unique approach often involves a multi-disciplinary team including teachers, tutors, SENCOs, psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. Everyone in our educational team must be able to understand their students’ wide range of needs, and the teachers and tutors we work with need to have been trained to recognise and support various cognitive abilities.
This week, our Marketing and Operations Director Soizic-Arzhele Peyrusse talks to Derek Boyle, SCITT Director at Bromley Schools’ Collegiate, to understand how trainee teachers are learning to adapt to the needs of all pupils.
Bromley Schools' Collegiate have been a provider of initial teacher training for nearly 30 years. Derek, could you please tell us a bit more about your role at the Collegiate?
I am the SCITT Director at Bromley Schools’ Collegiate, which means that I am responsible for all aspects of the quality of the training that we provide to the trainee teachers that come through our programme. We have a primary and secondary Initial Teacher Training programme that leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) which is the professional licence that you need to be a qualified teacher in England.
Most of our trainees also undertake a PGCE, but that is just an academic qualification and doesn’t qualify you to be a teacher.
As well as being responsible for the teacher training programmes, I also work with Early Career Teachers, provide CPLD programmes and also work with employers on an Assessment Only Route to QTS for those who work as unqualified teachers in local schools.
You have been at the helm of the Collegiate for nearly 10 years now, would you say that the skills you have had to teach your trainee teachers have changed at all over the years?
The skills that we need to teach our trainees have pretty much stayed the same, but we have developed our programme to ensure that the teachers that we train have a much deeper understanding of how to apply the latest educational research to their practice.
A focus over the last 5 years has been a deeper holistic focus on caring for the whole child and we work very closely with local specialist provisions within the borough as well as the SEND advisory teams from London Borough of Bromley. This has meant that our trainees have a greater understanding of the long-term impacts of deprivation and mental health on the outcomes for pupils. Our trainees also have a greater appreciation and practical strategies to support the wide range of hidden needs that pupils bring with them into school.
Derek, as a former student of the Collegiate myself, I know that one of the qualities you expect your trainee teachers to possess by the end of their training is to “put the welfare and development of the whole child at the centre of their teaching and practice”. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Pupils that have insecure attachments to the adults that support them in school are not going to be in the right space to be ready to learn and grow. Pupils want to feel that they are valued, listened to and that adults will care for them. When we teach pupils, we are asking them to invest in us emotionally and to put their faith in us, that we are going to look after them and their futures. This is the core of the privilege that it is to be a teacher and as a profession we undertake one of the best jobs in the world, to see that trust build into the future prospects for the pupils that are entrusted to our care.
Teacher’s Standard No5, as defined by the Department for Education, states that teachers should “Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils”, and in particular “have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs”. How important do you think it is for a teacher to meet those needs?
We do a lot of work in this area with our trainees so that they understand that every child is unique, and they bring a complex mix of prior experiences with themselves into the classroom every day. As teachers, it is our duty to ensure that we continuously reflect and learn about how we can support every pupil to make progress in every lesson. These steps might be small, but incrementally we are helping them to know more about themselves and the world around them every day. Those pupils with additional needs can’t shed these when they come into the classroom, it is part of them.
Finally, I know it’s a bit of a tricky one, but in your experience as both a teacher and a mentor, if you had to choose one top skill all teachers should possess to make them excellent educators, which one would that be?
I would say that it is empathy. I ask our trainees to be the teacher that they needed when they were at their lowest ebb.
I ask our trainees to be the teacher that they needed when they were at their lowest ebb