The activities detailed in this post are intended to help you to focus during your first few weeks on selected aspects of practice in schools. Teaching in England is carried out within a framework of statutory and advisory guidance issued by the Government.
Below you will find details of specific tasks to complete prior to your start in September. For the purposes of data protection and safeguarding, if you talk about pupils, they should remain unidentifiable.
The tasks are set out according to key themes that will thread throughout your training or induction year :
1. Welfare (including safeguarding)
2. The Purpose of Education (including curriculum)
Task 1: Welfare - Safeguarding and Child Protection
Access the link below to find the Government document ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’:
Read pages 5-16 carefully and summarise in your own words the role that teachers play in the safeguarding and protection of children and young people
Find out who has specific responsibility for the safeguarding and protection of children at your school.
Task 2: The Purpose of Education - The Curriculum
Download and read the Secondary National Curriculum here:
Summarise, in your own words, the key aims of the secondary national curriculum.
Read the pages that relate to your subject
Summarise in your own words, the key aims and purpose of study in your subject.
If you can, talk to colleagues about how decisions are made when designing and organising the curriculum. Consider:
How do decisions made about the curriculum align with the schools’ vision?
What conversations are teachers having about the ‘intent’ of the curriculum?
How does the curriculum reflect the school’s local context?
How does it reflect its pupils’ needs?
How are decisions made about what is taught and how it is taught?
How does the pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding of concepts in your subject develop through the school?
Some words you may hear when talking about the curriculum are ‘broad and balanced’, ‘knowledge-rich’, ‘character education’. Make a note when you hear these and try to understand what they mean. If you hear others, make a note of them.
Age Phases immediately below or above the one you are training/trained to teach
Look at the National Curriculum for the KS2 (7-11) age range
Look at an A-level specification in your subject – choose the exam board that is taught at GCSE here
Then …compare and contrast the following in relation to the curriculum in the 11-16 age range in:
1) Your subject
2) Mathematics/numeracy (across the curriculum)
3) English/literacy (across the curriculum)
How does the curriculum challenge pupils' learning?
How is the curriculum taught and how might those decisions affect pupils’ progress?
How is the learning environment set up and how might it affect pupils’ progress?
Task 3: Current Issues in Education - COVID-19
Reflecting on the year 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic
How has the pandemic affected your own learning experience?
How might the pandemic affect your teaching come September?
How has the pandemic education in general?
What might be the impact on our learners and how might you counteract these impacts?
Task 4: Learning
Drawing on conversations with teachers in both primary and secondary schools, working with pupils in lessons you participate in/observe, and looking at the work the pupils produce, think about and respond to the following questions:
What do teachers do that motivates pupils to engage in their learning?
How do teachers know that their teaching has impacted on the pupils’ learning?
How do pupils’ know what they have learned?
Task 5: Narrowing the Attainment Gap
There is an ongoing strong focus in education on closing the attainment gap. Follow the link below for further information:
Schools have been working hard to ensure that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds do not underachieve at school. Identify and summarise one way in which your school has been working towards challenging this gap.
Task 6: Getting to grips with the Teacher Standards
An introduction to the Teachers’ Standards (Teachers’ Standards link).
Part 1 of the Teachers’ Standards
In order to achieve Qualified Teacher Status ( QTS) you need to demonstrate that you have met all of the Teachers’ Standards by the end of the course. The following tasks would be very helpful in preparing you to start your PGCE course. At this stage you will not be able to complete the tasks that involve school visits but there are other useful activities which you can engage with.
1. Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils.
Language and communication underpin learning, while understanding and being understood are fundamental to safe and stimulating classrooms. These present particular challenges for some young people.
MONAGHAN, Frank (2005). Developing Language in the Mainstream Classroom – available here
The Communication Trust’s booklet, ‘Let’s talk about it; what new teachers need to know about children’s communication skills” – available here
2. Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils
In any pre-course observation or experience try to note down examples of different teaching strategies used in the classroom and how pupils respond.
Reflect on your own educational experiences. Identify the factors that supported you in making progress.
What helped you to progress?
How did you know when you made progress?
Did you experience any barriers?
How did they hinder you?
How did you overcome them?
3. Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
Complete any subject knowledge related conditions included in your offer (e.g. completion of a subject knowledge enhancement course or revision of a particular topic area).
What is ‘Knowledge Rich Curriculum’? by Tom Sherrington – available here
Visit the National Numeracy website –
Visit the National Literacy Trust website –
On school experience visits take opportunities to discuss literacy and numeracy in your subject. In what ways is the teaching of literacy and numeracy embedded in teaching strategies and curriculum?
4. Plan and teach well-structured lessons
If you have the opportunity to do any observation in schools (either before the start of the course or in your induction week in school) make notes about how teachers make use of the lesson time. Consider how many activities are included in the lesson, how much time is spent on each and how they link each activity to the next.
Read these two, short articles
Consider the following:
Is there anything surprising in what you have watched or read?
To what extent to do agree with the views expressed?
What key points are you taking away as you prepare to plan your own lessons?
5.(SEND) Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
Read chapter 6 of SEND Code of Practice 2015 (which can be found here)
Look at the professional guidance and resources sections of the following websites for an overview of the impact of different SEN and disabilities in schools and guidance on professional practice.
Talk to a student, friend or relative who has a special educational need or disability about his/her experience of school.
Download a copy of Access and Engagement for your subject. There is no subject specific publication for Dr, Soc Sci, Bus Ed or Citizenship. Bus Ed may review the ICT publication, Citizenship may review the RE publication.
Trainees of all subjects may review Supporting Pupils with EAL from Milton Keynes EMASS, available here
Note ideas and support strategies for teaching EAL pupils
6. Make accurate and productive use of assessment
Watch John Hattie’s video on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria – available here.
Reflect on what you heard in the video and note down any reflections or questions that you have about the issues raised. Particularly consider how this fits in with your own experiences of being assessed as a learner. Also, if you have recently observed any lessons, reflect on whether or not you saw these principles in action in the teaching you observed.
7. Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
Read “The Beginning Teacher’s Behaviour Toolkit: A Summary” which you can find here
Watch Bill Rodgers giving advice on verbal cues, setting the right tone, and that very important first lesson.
Watch Sue Cowley https://youtu.be/b97TNZisixM give advice on establishing yourself in the classroom
8.Fulfil wider professional responsibilities
Read the following
Strengths and weaknesses of vertical and horizontal pastoral systems (Vertical – pupils of different ages in the same form group and Horizontal – pupils of the same age in a form group)
Advantages and disadvantages of having pastoral assistants who are not teachers
The Principal’s rationale for developing the role of’ Progress Manager’ within the school
Synergies and conflicts within that role
Part 2 of the Teachers Standards - Personal and Professional Conduct
Read the Department for Education (2015) The Prevent Duty Departmental Advice for Schools and Childcare Providers and HM Government (2019) Revised Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales (sections 57-69 referring to Schools)
Watch TEDxBristol (2019, November) Aisha Thomas: Why Representation Really Matters
Develop your understanding of safeguarding issues by exploring the English context on the NSPCC website
Read Department for Education (2014) Promoting Fundamental British Values as Part of SMSC in Schools Departmental advice for maintained schools
A few current thought-provoking books (by no means a comprehensive list- many others are available)
Understanding reading comprehension by Wayne Tennent
Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning: Teaching Second Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom by Pauline Gibbons.
Exploring Children's Literature: Reading for Knowledge, Understanding and Pleasure by Nikki Gamble
Becoming a Teacher of reading by Margaret Perkins
Princesses, dragons and helicopter stories by Trisha Lee
Learning Theories Simplified by Bob Bates
Understanding how we learn by Yana Weinstein and Megan Sumeracki
Visible Learning feedback by John Hattie and Shirley Clark
Making every lesson count – series of books published by Crown House publishing
Making Kids Cleverer- David Didau
Why don’t students like school? by Daniel T Willingham
Yes, but why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics by Ed Southall
Making good progress? by Daisy Chritodoulou
Closing the vocabulary gap by Alex Quigley
Closing the reading gap by Alex Quigley
Rosenshein’s Principles in Action by Tom Sherrington
Responsive Teaching by Harry Fletcher Wood
These are some supplementary websites and resources that I would recommend to you. This is not essential reading but may be of interest:
Educational Excellence Everywhere: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/educational-excellence-everywhere. A white paper setting out the government’s vision for schools in England for the next 5 years (published March 2016).
National curriculum and assessment from September 2014: information for schools:
The Chartered College of Teaching: https://chartered.college/. The Chartered College provides concrete guidance and practical support to all schools and teachers.
Cambridge Primary Review Trust: http://cprtrust.org.uk/. Central to the proposals of the Cambridge Primary Review is a set of twelve aims for primary education, grounded in extensive evidence from parents, teachers, children, community leaders, international research and a wide range of official, professional and voluntary stakeholders.
Closing the gap with the new national curriculum: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/349288/closing-the-gap-with-the-new-primary-national-curriculum.pdf
Use observational learning to improve your teaching practice https://thinkaheadsheffield.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/use-observational-learning-to-improve-your-teaching-practice/
5 Steps to Consistent Behaviour Management
Counter-Intuitive Behaviour Management
A Brief Overview of Working Memory
Retrieval Practice and Bloom's Taxonomy
Desirable Difficulties in the Classroom
Book ownership, literacy engagement and mental wellbeing
Reading and financial capability: exploring the relationships
How to make marking more efficient: three new techniques for teachers
The 7 habits of highly effective lesson plans
Every teacher is a teacher of literacy: Literacy across the curriculum
Practical ways to make primary maths relevant by @MrsCrossan19
Maintaining your subject knowledge
5 Efficient Marking and Assessment Strategies by @RichardJARogers
The 3 key principles to helping students form good habits
Preparing for the Interview: Advice for NQTs