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The University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) has introduced an innovative scheme for teacher development which will nurture mentoring skills whilst boosting Continuous Professional Development (CPD) – a vital benefit in the rapidly evolving world of education.

Designed to support school colleagues working as Reading Partnership Mentors (RPMs), the IoE’s new Mentor Certification Programme nurtures teachers and practitioners in developing and reflecting on their skills for effective mentoring.

The new programme has been made specifically flexible to support busy professionals, with a further benefit arising from the support it provides for teachers’ and education practitioners’ career development: the strong element of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a key component of the new scheme.

Schools and settings have been enthusiastic about these skills-enhancement activities but have also experienced a different kind of positive from the scheme: research has shown a strong link between effective mentoring and recruitment and retention of teachers. Reading Partnership Teachers (RPTs) are regularly offered roles in their placement schools, so active engagement with the Partnership in training new teachers proves an excellent way for schools to recruit Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

The Certification scheme has already drawn strong interest from colleagues in schools and settings wishing to cultivate their mentoring expertise. Those already mentoring in Partnership settings are being invited to join the new Certification programme at the level that suits their experience.

The IoE is ranked 3rd in the UK for Education (The Guardian University League Table 2018), with internationally renowned and award-winning academics. The Institute’s strong links with local – and not so local –  schools enables an outstanding Partnership that can create the next generation of exceptional teachers. 

The IoE’s high levels of pastoral care and the exemplary experience that students enjoy are regularly reflected in the annual National Student Survey (NSS), with 2017’s ranking the IoE a high 90% for satisfaction. Indeed, one of the Institute’s key strengths, as recognised by Ofsted, is the high quality of support it provides to schools, mentors and Reading Partnership Teachers (RPTs) on placement.

What Reading Partnership Mentors have to say:
“Mentoring….. it makes you think about your own teaching”
“Mentoring skills – really good for developing departmental policies”

Click here to discover more about mentoring and Mentor Certification from some of our Reading Partnership Mentors.

The Institute is keen to welcome experienced teachers and practitioners to the Mentor Certification programme, whether applicants are mentoring trainees, early years workers, students or Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

If you would like to find out more about this aspect of the scheme, please contact your University link tutor, or Kate Malone, our Placements Co-ordinator.

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Dr Catherine Tissot, Head of Institute of Education

Speaking recently on International Women’s Day in her capacity as a female senior academic, Dr Catherine Tissot revealed her early inspiration and had some unusual advice for those embarking on a career in education, special needs and academia.

Catherine’s undergraduate degree in the USA focused on special needs teaching and that is certainly where she saw her future lying. She had no inkling then that she would become a teacher of teachers and ultimately the Head of one of the highest ranked schools of education in the United Kingdom. 

Catherine’s childhood involvement in voluntary activities with kids in her local park confirmed to her from a very early age that her future lay in education.

She said: “I absolutely knew I wanted to become a teacher from earliest memory and I also became passionate about Special Needs teaching from a very young age.”

After High School (in the USA), Catherine enrolled at the renowned university for special education provision, Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Drawn as always to special needs, Catherine found herself helping out with SN children’s swimming programmes at University in her spare time. She loved her voluntary work and saw her future being in the classroom as a special needs teacher.

Fate thought differently. Travelling to live in France in 1990, following her husband on a work posting, Catherine as quickly formed contacts with local SN groups and began volunteering. Their next posting took the couple to the UK, where she picked up her charity work again. The connections she made at the local University through this led to her being offered a scholarship to pursue a PhD.

Catherine said: “I was so delighted and excited at being offered this unexpected opportunity.”

Focusing her research on how appropriate provision can be determined for the vast array of individuals on the various spectrums of special needs, Catherine examined the perspectives of school, parents and Local Authorities.

Fully absorbed by now, having finished her PhD, Catherine started lecturing part-time at Brunel University. After a brief foray back into a special needs school, she finally arrived at the Institute of Education at the University of Reading in 2008.

As Head of School since 2015, Catherine envisages a world where teachers are given the support and time to attend appropriately to individual children’s differing needs.

She said: “Each special needs child is unique, so teachers need to have the opportunity to make plans that suit the child’s own pattern of learning and well-being. Often the first plan may not work, so you will need to revisit and there needs to be provision for this level of flexibility in the curriculum.”

Catherine sees the academic community getting closer to understanding the causes of autism, but warns that it will be a complex network of causes, rather than just one. She sounds a further warning note about the future of teaching in general in the UK:

“The point I’d like to make is that we are rapidly approaching significant shortages of teachers. This is partly because we are not able to recruit enough new teachers to replace retirees. Sadly, another cause is that teachers are not staying in the field because of the work load. This is a problem that needs addressing at policy level and any solution will come at a cost.

“Another area where I’d like to see change is in the public perceptions of teachers. Remember that what you see in the classroom is only the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know of any good teacher who doesn’t work evenings, weekends and holidays to stay on top of planning, marking and paperwork.

“I’d like to see parents more involved too, shouldering their own responsibility of raising children who are school-ready, in the most basic terms. I was talking with a Year 2 teacher last week who was frustrated because a child was not yet toilet-trained, for instance. How can a teacher achieve meaningful results when facing such basic obstacles?”

Catherine’s other concern is the effect of new technology on children’s communication.

“They become consumed by it, addicted to it, and this impedes communication skills, real world skills, writing skills; in fact all the indicators of a successful future. It’s very sad.”

Does Catherine have any words of advice for young people setting out on a career in education?

She cites seizing opportunities when they arise as the secret to achieving life goals – even those goals you didn’t realise you had to begin with.

She said: “I’m now Head of School. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if hadn’t taken the chance the moment I was offered that scholarship. My confidence grew with the scholarship, and of course each stage of attainment gives you more confidence in yourself.

“I would say, be bold and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Be sure to realise and recognise opportunities that may be right in front of you. And remain constantly reflective in your daily life. Take suggestions positively, seize opportunities and don’t be too risk averse.”

When she has time off from running the Institute of Education, Catherine absorbs herself in another kind of growth. Her allotment is her pride and joy and she describes the pleasure of growing all her family’s vegetables. Catherine also closely follows the fortunes of her favourite American football team, the Green Bay Packers and when she has a moment to spare, loves to swim with the group of lads who are her swimming buddies.

When asked whom she would point to as her career inspiration, she pauses for a moment.

“There are so many. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been helped by informal mentors throughout career and my family has a tradition of strong women! My most recent inspiration though has been the IoE’s own Professor Rhona Stainthorp. She is so very good at challenging me in a supportive manner and she always has an open door and cup of tea ready!”

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Dr Helen Bilton, conference organiser

Dr Helen Bilton, conference organiser

After an extremely successful conference last March, the Institute of Education is delighted to present this third specially designed conference for those working with Early Years children. This year, the focus will be on process of intentional teaching and children being partners in their own learning.

 

Conference organiser Dr Helen Bilton said: “Last year’s conference saw delegates emerging feeling reinvigorated and refreshed. That is what we have planned for them this year – with a different focus.

Some of last year’s delegates said:

“The day was thought provoking, inspiring, great resources, friendly teachers.”

“I liked the mixture of keynote speech plus workshops, and the opportunity to share ideas and network.”

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Delegates at last year’s successful conference.

“The talk was inspiring, the workshops were useful, all great ideas.”

See below for full details, including booking links. For further information, please email education-events@reading.ac.uk

Intentional teaching, intentional learners: ensuring children are partners in their development

Thursday 16 March 2017 from 09.30-15.00 at London Road Campus, University of Reading

PROGRAMME

09.00 Refreshments, networking, workshop sign-up and welcome
09.30 Introduction
09.45 Keynote speech – intentional teaching, intentional learners: ensuring children are partners in their development
10.45 Break
11.15 Workshops*
12.30 Lunch with exhibitors
13.30 Workshops* (repeated sessions from morning)
14.45 Evaluation
15.00 End – you are welcome to stay and mingle with other delegates

*The same seven workshops will be offered both morning and afternoon. Delegates will be required to select two workshops at time of booking from the drop-down menu – one for the morning and one for the afternoon. Remember, you can choose the workshops in either order, so if your morning choice is full, simply book that workshop in the afternoon instead, and your other choice for the morning. See below for workshop titles, synopses and speaker biographies.

Cost, which includes refreshments and lunch:

£95 if you book and pay online by credit/debit card via: http://store.rdg.ac/EYFSConference2017

£120 if you require an invoice: please email education-events@reading.ac.uk to request an invoice, clearly stating ‘EY Conference 2017 invoice request’

 

 

 

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