South Essex College: Taking Teaching Further

South Essex College has participated in the Department for Education funded Taking Teaching Further (TTF) programme since 2019, using the programme to attract and support industry professionals to make the move into teaching. The College has already recruited 23 industry professionals through this route and is now registered for the latest phase of the programme.

Nicki Kelly, Assistant Principal for Curriculum, has coordinated and led the Taking Teaching Further programme in the College and shares her hints and tips on how to make the most of it.

Why did you decide to get involved with the TTF Programme?

Nicki Kelly portrait image

We saw it as a support mechanism to help us recruit people into teaching. We were having a few issues recruiting Engineering and Construction lecturers in particular. Salary rates are usually higher in those industries than for teaching, so we needed something extra to make the move into teaching more attractive. The Taking Teaching Further Programme gave us that extra with funding for a teaching qualification and a guarantee of extra support.

How long have you been involved and how many trainee teachers have you recruited?

We joined the programme in Round 2 in 2019 and we have continued with the programme ever since. Each year, the number of professionals we’ve recruited has grown, because each year we think of ways we can improve what we are doing. So far, we have recruited 23 industry professionals and 18 have remained with us covering a wide range of curriculum areas from Business & Finance, to Healthcare, Logistics, Construction and Engineering.

How do you find talented individuals from business and industry?

Over time, our recruitment approaches have evolved and developed. We do an open event where we invite anybody thinking about teaching to come in for a chat with our teachers. We ask our current teaching staff if any of their industry contacts are interested in teaching, and we have a ‘refer a friend’ process to support that. We also make it very clear that they do not need a teaching qualification. Often, when colleges advertise for roles, they stipulate a teaching qualification which can be off-putting for those from business and industry. The beauty of the Taking Teaching Further programme is that you don’t need a teaching qualification to start with – but you also know that you are not going to be left to sink or swim. There is a handholding mechanism to nurture you into your new teaching role.

Does the extra support that TTF brings make a difference to new recruits?

Absolutely! It’s a relief to those new staff members that they do get some remission to reflect and share good practice, rather than being thrown in the deep end at day one with a full timetable and no teaching skills. Taking Teaching Further offers a stepping-stone process for new recruits to become accomplished teachers.

When people come to these open events, what do they ask?

Most questions I get are about how to manage the behaviour of students. We have a wide curriculum offer that covers students from Entry Level to Level 3. The student demographic is equally as wide and diverse, which can sometimes result in poor behaviours, but it needs the understanding of why students are exhibiting these behaviours. A key focus on the TTF programme is to equip new teachers with the skills to prevent poor behaviours, which may be through differentiated planning or teaching techniques to promote greater engagement in the lesson topic. Tutors will be taught strategies to deal with behaviours and will be given the safe space to do this.

That’s one of the things we concentrate on in the additional support we provide through Taking Teaching Further in our ‘Teach to Recruit’ training programme. We focus on those key moments that can be a real shock to new teachers – such as when they are faced with a class of 24 students and five are causing disruption. More often than not, this can be quickly resolved, but it is having the skills and confidence to do so.

What are the key factors for retention?

Support and mentoring are crucial. Being open to the recruits coming and asking questions at all levels, not just within the department where they are based, and actively encouraging them to ask questions as much as possible. Sometimes the issue is the other way round, people can be over confident. For example, they might want to take a Level 1 class on their own, when they have only taken a Level 3 class before – so then we have to support them by encouraging them to take one step at a time.

How do you support individuals once you have recruited them?

They have a mentor to support them through their teaching qualification, but we also run a session every Wednesday morning for three hours, led by one of our Teaching and Learning specialists, which is specifically for the Taking Teaching Further recruits. It’s a safe place for them to share their thoughts, concerns and support each other. The Teaching and Learning specialist is there to help with managing behaviours, all those key things you need to know as a teacher, or have strategies up your sleeve.

What has been the impact of the TTF programme?

Let me give you an example. In September we launched the Digital T Level. One of our earliest Taking Teaching Further recruits who has just completed his teaching qualification is now leading on that T Level because he’s got the most up-to-date industry knowledge and skills. He’s upskilling and supporting our other computing staff as well as the learners.

What top tips for recruitment would you give to a learning provider new to TTF?

You do need to have a robust recruitment process to allow an informal conversation with professionals about why they want to come into teaching and allow them to come in for a half day or a day of work shadowing before they commit, just to see the environment. Also, your support for those new recruits is vital, and having an open dialogue with them, checking up on them and making sure they are OK. They need to know that if they are struggling there is support there to help get them through.

Applications for Round Five of Taking Teaching Further are open until 15 December 2022. For details, visit the Taking Teaching Further page of the ETF website. Advice on recruiting and retaining teachers through Taking Teaching Further from providers including South Essex College is available here.

“I wanted to share my knowledge of new technologies to future generations. I also wanted to spend more time with my family, the school holidays allow me to do that. I’m very much enjoying working as a teacher.”

Petrit Shala, previously Operations Manager at the Port of Tilbury, and now teacher of digital courses at South Essex College of Further and Higher Education after training on the Taking Teaching Further Programme.

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