Kingston University is taking the lead in a ground-breaking consortium which offers fast track training for teachers in local schools.
The West London Partnership links Kingston and Roehampton Universities with St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, in a scheme that trains up to 400 new teachers a year.
The Graduate Teacher Programme now works with 11 local education authorities, from Hillingdon to Surrey, providing them with qualified teachers in record time.
Boroughs such as Hounslow have benefited, filling staffing gaps in both primary and secondary schools.
Richard Beddell, Recruitment Strategy Manager for Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning at Hounslow Council, said it has become an essential part of their teacher recruitment strategy.
“The West London Partnership teachers have made a huge difference to teaching and learning in this borough,” he said.
The scheme, which has run for six years, is being reorganised to make Kingston University the lead partner.
Yve Posner, the group’s co-ordinator at the University’s School of Education, said the change will consolidate its success.
“When we started, schools were sceptical, but there’s been a complete change, and they now come knocking on our door, asking to join,” Ms Posner said.
Funded by the Teaching and Development Agency for Schools, the West London Partnership is now the largest employment-based initial teacher training provider in the United Kingdom.
It was set up to relieve teacher shortages with a new employment-based programme.
Training can be as short as three months, with each student receiving individual tuition based on their previous knowledge and experience.
By the end of the programme, students gain Qualified Teacher Status, which allows them to work in state schools.
Many of the students are making a career change into teaching.
Others are already working in schools as teaching assistants and want to progress to become teachers.
In 2001, the first year of the scheme, there were only 18 trainees, and Kingston was part of one of just four such projects.
Now it has been rolled out nationally and Kingston University, along with its local partners, has been responsible for training in excess of 700 teachers.
There is a parallel scheme for qualifying overseas trained teachers, which has allowed more than 1000 teachers from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Caribbean to gain qualified teacher status in our local schools.
One of the attractions of the Graduate Teacher Programme to both schools and trainees is that former teaching assistants or others volunteering at a school can stay at the same school during their training.
For schools, that means hiring a teacher they already know and trust.
“Schools like to train their own teachers,” said Ms Posner.
Similar schemes around the country now account for 20 per cent of teacher training places.
To see the full range of Kingston University teacher training provision, please click here.