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Dr Leigh Hoath: Its ITE but not as we know it

Published: Sep 29, 2020 3 min read


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This is my 23rd new academic year and it is the first where I have welcomed students to my room in masks, sitting in rows and unable to hand out any documents. I have always had a significantly sized PGCE cohort which is split into smaller groups for teaching. This year I have very distinct groups and after session 1 it was apparent that they already saw themselves in this way. 

What I have learned already is that the days of my life I gave to my VLE in order to ensure all reading, documents and resources were readily available week by week and structured to support the ‘mask to mask’ teaching. I will be honest – the content is organised to flip to online if necessary. 

One of my personal beliefs in that ITE trainees should do lots of practical work and this is still true in these Covid times. With a little clever thinking and careful resourcing I have maintained that every day these students are with me (once a week until December and every other week after that) they will undertake some practical work. 

The challenges have been organising trays of equipment so each can have their own and then having somewhere to quarantine them for 72 hours after use. I am not convinced my technician will still be talking to me at the end of the semester but his input and organisational support have been invaluable. I am determined these students will get as close to a ‘normal’ PGCE experience as possible.  

The other challenges have been around drawing upon resources such as visits to external providers and supporting group work and discussion within taught sessions. The latter means that, by the nature that the students are talking less, I am talking more. 

There is more input from the team which is not necessarily how we would want things but 2m distances between every trainee in the room makes facilitating discussion a little tough. I have made use of external providers’ online support – so the Health and Safety session that would normally be covered as part of our visit to STEM Learning is now being done online, as is the ‘visit’ from subject associations such as RSC and the ASE. 

These students have not done a PGCE before so they have no comparison. It is only us who know what they are ‘missing’ and so I see it very much our role to mitigate this loss and embrace the challenges we face to ensure the quality of experience is not diminished. 

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