Graduates on Teach First course gain experience at Newington primary

Ella Kirkland from Chichester, James Bennett from Tankerton, Sarah Groves from Sandwich and Jenna Bowman from Canterbury will stay at Newington

A group of graduates are finding out about life at Newington Community Primary School as part of the Teach First recruitment programme

Newington was the first in Kent to sign up to the county programme when it was set up just over six years ago.

Now a group of 32 young men and women from all over the region are spending three weeks at Newington to explore the challenges first-hand of working in a school where they can gain valuable experience allied to a short programme at Christ Church University College in Canterbury.

The majority will move on to other schools, although four of the group will begin their two-year PGDE (Post Graduate Diploma in Education) course at Newington.

Head teacher Cliff Stokes said: “Under the project, graduates need a 2:1 or a 1st degree and must be prepared to spend two years working in areas of social deprivation and need. This gives them a very broad experience early on in their careers of the variety of challenges that schools face every day. They have no previous teaching experience.

“Recruitment of staff to socially deprived areas is a problem in many parts of the UK and the Teach First programme addresses this – our staff at Newington are excellent professionals and very good teachers, and are always pleased to welcome graduates who are following the Teach First pathway in their careers.”

The four new members of Newington staff are Ella Kirkland from Chichester, James Bennett from Tankerton, Sarah Groves from Sandwich and Jenna Bowman from Canterbury.

Talking during their induction sessions they said they were excited about becoming part of the Newington team.

James added: “The Teach First programme is an excellent way to learn and we all believe Newington is the perfect place for us.”

Mr Stokes said: “We have enjoyed helping pioneer Teach First in Kent and we have worked with some fabulous graduates since 2012.

“They do make exceptional progress, developing a wide range of skills very quickly and raising their aspirations along the way.

“They work very closely with designated senior staff who give them guidance and support and train them in the Newington way via exciting, engaging and challenging learning activities that inspire children.”

Assistant head teacher Rebecca Heaton said: “From September, the 32 graduates on the induction course will be working in early years and primary education all along the south east and southern coastal areas.

“For the next few weeks they will be immersed in life at Newington. They will all work with teachers to observe outstanding practice and they will also teach some small sessions themselves.”

At the end of their second year the graduates have the chance to take a Masters degree in education, and then they choose whether to stay in their current school, move elsewhere in education, or follow a different career path.