The Highfield School is part of the North Hertfordshire Schools Direct Alliance (a consortium of eight Secondary Schools covering the areas of Letchworth, Baldock, Hitchin and Royston). As part of this alliance we provide placements for the Schools Direct Route into teaching. We also work with the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Bedfordshire to provide placements for trainees on the University Led route.
We are very committed to attracting, training and developing high quality graduates and career changers. We provide excellent training and support to allow our trainees to quickly become strong classroom practitioners who are well placed to have further career success. The work we do around initial teacher training is part of a bigger, school wide focus on teaching and learning. In supporting and developing future teachers, our existing teaching body are provided with an opportunity to reflect on, hone, model and communicate excellent practice.
In 2018-2019 Highfield hosted a total of ten trainees at different times of the year, for varying length of placement. In this academic year we continue to host trainees and also have a small group of NQTs at the school. Our trainees have an excellent track record in gaining employment as an NQT. Our focus is always on providing effective, sustained and personalised support for beginning teachers with ‘Quality First Teaching’ for our pupils as the priority.
At The Highfield School we provide placements for three different routes into teaching. All of the three routes into teaching offer Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and two of the three routes also offer a PGCE in Secondary Education.
The three routes are:
- Schools Direct Salaried QTS – The trainee has a main school from September, spending one day a week at University. At the start of the year, trainees have a small teaching timetable of their own and then build their teaching hours when ready by taking lessons from their mentor’s timetable. They undertake a six week placement in a contrasting school in the half term following Christmas and then return to their main school for the rest of the year.
- Schools Direct Unsalaried QTS PGCE - The trainee has a main school from September spending one day a week at University. Unlike salaried trainees, the unsalaried route means the trainee is supernumerary. Trainees are attached to their mentor’s classes/other experienced staff from the start of the year. They begin to team teach and then take on classes as their own when they are ready.
- University Led QTS PGCE – Trainees on a University led route have two main placements in two different schools, organised by the University. The first runs from September to December and the second from January to June. University led trainees are supernumerary and attached to their mentor’s classes. They begin by team teaching and then taking on classes from their mentor’s timetable when they are ready.
To find out more about the training experience at The Highfield School or to ask questions in advance of an application being made please contact Roisin Cosgrove firstname.lastname@example.org or Lorraine Hoskins email@example.com
Professional Development and Mentor Support
Two members of staff, Lorraine Hoskins and Roisin Cosgrove, share the Professional Mentor (PM) role. PMs oversee the training experience, provide whole school aspects of professional development for trainees and NQTs, and work alongside subject specific Teacher Mentors (TMs). In addition to this University tutors visit and observe trainees throughout the year. Communication between us and the University is very strong and together we provide trainees with the knowledge, feedback and support required to achieve success in classroom teaching.
The Professional Mentors lead a timetabled fortnightly CPD session for all trainees & NQTs. Sometimes we meet as a group and at other times NQTs and Trainees have separate sessions led by one of the Professional Mentors. The CPD programme covers essential areas but is also flexible to meet needs as they arise in the year. Topics covered include building positive relationships with pupils, becoming a reflective practitioner, behaviour management, assessing pupils’ progress, understanding data and lesson planning. Having a designated timetabled hour for beginning teachers & Professional Mentors to meet as a group on a fortnightly basis is a particular strength of our provision. As well as specific training it provides the opportunity for beginning teachers to support each other and share experiences.
Subject specific Teacher Mentors
Every trainee and NQT is partnered with a subject specific Teacher Mentor. This is an experienced member of staff who has chosen and been selected to become a Teacher Mentor. The Teacher Mentor provides subject specialist advice and guidance for the NQT or trainee, meeting weekly to do this and set weekly targets. Teacher Mentors are supported by Professional Mentors when assessing trainees and NQTs to ensure judgements are consistent and in line with national standards.
Wellbeing and workload
At The Highfield School, the wellbeing of our pupils and our staff remains a high priority throughout the year. Teaching is an exciting and very rewarding profession but it is also a demanding one. We promote a ‘support and challenge in equal measure’ culture. Professional Mentors provide specific training sessions for trainees and NQTs on time management as a teacher and maintaining positive wellbeing. In addition, regular meetings allow us to provide personalised support and guidance to all beginning teachers.
Learning from others
Trainees and NQTs observe a wide range of excellent teachers within and outside their own subject area. To begin with they are supported in this by observing alongside a Professional Mentor, helping them to see teaching & learning ‘through the eyes of a teacher’. This helps them to relate what they are observing to their own development.
Trainees and NQTs also pair with each other to peer observe as part of their progress towards becoming reflective practitioners who can accurately self-evaluate.
Trainees are also carefully matched with Form Tutors, outside of their department areas to experience and develop skills in the pastoral element of teaching. NQTs have their own Tutor group and are well supported by the pastoral team at Highfield as they begin this role.
How to Apply - Schools Direct Route
The application cycle for teacher training in September 2020 opened on Tuesday 8th October 2019. Applications should be made via the UCAS website.
All applications must be made through the UCAS website. Our Partnership Code for the UCAS apply system is 1QY.
The list of teacher training programmes that we offer will be displayed on the gov.uk site - Find Postgraduate Teacher Training Courses. In the 'Find courses by location or by training provider' option, it is easiest to find us by entering our Partnership name – Hitchin Boys School.
Please note that the Partnership name ‘Hitchin Boys School’ covers the consortium of eight schools offering training as part of The North Hertfordshire Schools Direct Alliance. It does not mean that trainees necessarily train at Hitchin Boys School but Hitchin Boys will process the application and send it on for consideration by all schools in the Alliance.
Having some school experience prior to, or during the process of your application, is always useful. If you have not done so already, you may wish to make contact with a local school or with us to arrange some observation experience for you. Please note that having no school experience will not preclude you from applying.
To qualify for this school-centred route, you must have English and Maths GCSE (or equivalent) at Grade 4/C or above and a degree preferably in the subject you want to teach. However, SKE (Subject Knowledge Enhancement) courses are available. For more information please see the Government Get into Teaching webpage.
Read more about eligibility here
An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS) is required for entry to Initial Teacher Training.
How we select for the Schools Direct Route
The Hitchin Boys School Schools Direct partnership will sift applications for eligibility and then send the application on to interested schools in the partnership. Interested partnership schools will take part in a shortlisting process and this will lead to interviews being held.
The interview process will involve an observation of the candidate teaching a class for 30 minutes (at least) with advance notice of the topic, year group and ability of the children in the class. There will be a written exercise and an interview lasting 30 minutes with a representative from the Partnership and a representative from the school that a successful candidate will be placed in for their Schools Direct Year.
How to Apply - University Led Route
The Highfield School hosts placements for trainee teachers who are completing a University Led PGCE from both the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Bedfordshire.
Information about postgraduate teacher training courses can be found here:
"Training to teach at Highfield has provided me with an excellent start to my teaching career. My mentors have been supportive and thorough and have created a programme that puts the needs of each individual trainee first, taking into account personal circumstances as well as previous skills and experience. Thus, ensuring that I was always progressing towards manageable targets that would lead to me being the best teacher I can be. Communication has always been excellent, so I was always clear of who to go to with different questions I might have. I always felt that my wellbeing was as important to my mentors as following a set programme, as such, the increase in my workload over the year always felt manageable. The fortnightly CPD sessions were excellent and a good opportunity for building supportive relationships with other trainees, as well as targeting professional skills. I was thrilled to be offered full time employment at the end of my training and to continue my professional development as an NQT in such a positive training environment."
Casey Burgess (Trainee Teacher 2018-2019, NQT 2019-2020)
"How privileged I feel to have my placement at Highfield. The staff, their ethos and their level of support and dedication has been outstanding. I feel that the confidence this has given me has made my training experience so far better than I could have hoped for."
Lizzie Parker (Trainee Teacher 2019-2020)
"As a history subject mentor, I have learnt a lot more about teaching my subject. Discussions with our history trainee/NQT during mentor meetings have given me new perspectives on how students can best learn historical concepts, and often challenge me to think in different ways. This collaboration is one of the most rewarding parts of mentoring."
Jess Landy (Teacher Mentor, 2018-2020)
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