Working in partnership with the Department for Education, Bath Spa University and the Sigma Teaching School Alliance

The current lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak has made us all think about our how our lives have changed.

With schools largely closed, many families have been getting to grips with homeschooling using various video conferencing platforms and curriculum -based websites.

Teachers have been busy keeping touch with their classes whilst needing to update their technology skills.

At SW TSST we have exploring remote training this year with a blended approach to training our non-specialists. The SW is a prime region for the use of virtual learning and training platforms because of the geography of the area and the challenges of getting anywhere on time!

Whilst nothing quite compares to face-to-face training, we are finding that the advances in technology have made remote learning work very effectively.

We have found that it is entirely possible to interleave both subject and pedagogy knowledge whilst developing key procedural techniques and conceptual understanding, by developing a narrative to each training workshop. Building up in small connecting steps whilst having an eye on the holistic nature of the subject enables participants to swiftly make progress whilst not experiencing cognitive overload.

In the past few weeks we have designed and delivered the first National TSST programme in Secondary Maths. This has taken place during the school day and when teachers would normally be teaching. The silver lining to the pandemic has provided a training opportunity for teachers which wouldn’t normally be available.

The feedback from our participants have shown that it has been a particular success – anecdotally so far – but we will analyse the data more fully when we finish the course. Suffice to say the vast majority have signed up for our extension course!

The DfE have quite rightly extended the completion dates for TSST until March next year. In the SW we are looking at training more teachers than we were allocated which is great news for alleviating the recruitment and retention challenge. We have also found that running wholly online programme enables us to run courses more efficiently and for lower costs per participant. This must be kept in mind when the programmes move to being run by subject hubs next year.

We must not forget the damage of this dreadful virus to us all, but then also keep in mind the glimmer in opportunities which have been afforded us in training and developing teachers, as our working practices evolve.

Andy Oldman