Tough Young Teachers: “I would have cared, if he did.”

I have been watching the Tough Young Teachers with mixed feelings. This week in particular I felt compelled to write about it. The episode focused around two pupils and their relationship with their teachers, Charles and Claudenia. Both starkly different in their approach and both failing miserably to engage ‘challenging students’. I do realise there is careful and clever editing involved and we, the viewers are not privy to the whole story.

Charles, the RE teacher whose contempt for his students is obvious, he barely hides it under the guise of aloofness. I can’t help wonder where the support for Caleb is/was. A student like Caleb is a hard nut to crack, he is suffering from low self-esteem which he angrily exposes in his words and actions. He gets ranted at from the moment he steps into the classroom (he is cocky but it is all an act) and I do think Charles missed a trick when Caleb first acted up. He could have harnessed the confident Caleb by a simple and manly chat, not the belittling and demeaning talks and detentions. I would have played to Caleb’s ego, told him that he was a strong character and the class needed his views. Caleb is street wise so Charles would have need to back up his words with actions like calling Caleb’s mum for something positive. There is always something positive that can be relayed home, that would have curried favour for Charles.

Caleb’s confidence is soon shown to be nothing more that a cover up for low self esteem. After his chat with the SLT member, Caleb is clearly upset and angry. He doesn’t ‘give a f**k about teachers, family, friends’. Without knowing too much about Caleb apart from what is shown. He is from a single-parent family ( and mum does well in her parenting) but that doesn’t in itself produce angry young teens who are excluded from school. He clearly mistrusts adults, especially those in authority. We only know he is from the PRU but not why he was placed there. My guess is Caleb’s experience also clouds his and Charles’ view. There is suspicion on both sides and quite frankly Charles does nothing to appease, change or challenge Caleb’s views. In fact, I would be so bold to say that Charles actually exacerbates the situation. He made an audible comment about some students caring more about their exams than others, which students who are as life-savvy as Caleb will pick up on. This further alienates Caleb.

Here’s my issue with Teach First, just because you are a bright graduate with a first, it doesn’t not automatically convert or equate to being a good teacher. Empathy, sympathy and kindness are key to unlocking students like Caleb. They relish in words of support and praise. Good teaching isn’t just about subject knowledge, there is no magic formula, what works one day might not work the next. But a lot of it is rapport and people skills which can’t be taught. It is a skill to command a classroom, and everyone who teaches for the first time will testify it is a scary experience especially when there are strong characters in there.

I do wonder where the pastoral support was for Caleb and Charles. Caleb quite obviously needs help with anger management. I don’t doubt the subsequent fight and permanent exclusion could have been prevented, Caleb comes with a long history that teachers like Charles can’t just step into. There were several poignant moments in Charles and Caleb’s relationship that could have made a difference. The point where Caleb says he is dumb and questions why he was even given one mark out of the four available. I never once heard Charles using positive language towards Caleb. A child can be perceived as overly confident and combative but really deep down he is feeling miserable about himself and his low self esteem is rock bottom. The behaviour then resorts to anger and the fight is the end cause of Caleb’s frustration with authority. Charles could have been humble but his defence of his own actions are indefensible. “I would have cared, if he [Caleb] had”.

No sorry, you get paid to care. Teaching in a school like Caleb’s is never just about the learning objective and exams. It is about guiding young people to become adjusted citizens too. Every one of those children will have a backstory and barriers to learning that [un] fortunately Charles has never had and yes, I am judging that purely by the family silver.

In Caleb’s case, his school failed him. But it won’t be just Caleb who doesn’t complete the course, I very much predict Charles will end up as one of the statistical casualties of the ‘Teach First graduates who are 5 times more likely to leave the profession’.

The other side of the flip coin is Claudenia. She went down the road of being ‘bredrins’ with the girls from 10D3. And the girls make some valid points about how she spoke to them. Slang and colloquialism can be used with great effect but only once the relationship has been established. It certainly should not be used in chastisement. We didn’t see the part that led to Claudenia to thinking that the girls were treating her as they knew her ‘from road’ but the girl felt humiliated and uncomfortable by it. Girls are much trickier to get onboard than boys but who tried to engage their point of view except the camera person?

When the ‘girls’ favourite teacher’ and Claudenia met, there was no mention of the real and under lying issues. Neither teacher tried to get underneath the problem. The girls are clearly articulate, they seemed able to offer plausible, if not mature, reasons why they exhibited the behaviours even if they couldn’t link it. The lesson observation highlighted the weakness in teaching and learning and things will quickly unravel if a child doesn’t understand or see the relevance to their learning but this is a small part of building relationships with pupils. It is a smile, positive praise and an apology that would build bridges here. Claudenia would only have to listen to the girls, make an agreement and stick to it for her situation to be instantly better.

Claudenia’s tiredness also plays a crucial part, she is so tired she falls asleep in her room and in front of her class. She is at breaking point and actually needs someone other than her friend to tell her to go home and rest. Teaching is not a job that you can do on empty, it drains and tires you. I do feel sorry for her and her tiredness must be affecting her ability to stay neutral and calm. Where are the Teach First mentors? Where is her in school guidance?

I had an amazing mentor in my NQT year, she really cared about me and the pupils. We had a resonant relationship where I felt able to expose my weaknesses and concerns. She always pointed out the merits but this was over a year and after a 18 months of training. Again, I don’t know what happens beyond and away from the edited film but the Teach First graduates need a robust mentoring system (and not just when they are in trouble like Meryl) The Tough Young Teachers rely heavily upon their network of teacher graduates which is fine for off loading the day and providing drinking buddies but for real development, they require formal mentoring. Mentoring which unpicks the nitty gritty of the day, the week or term. It’s those difficult conversations that lead to effective practice.

I have to agree with Caleb that ‘respect is earned’ and both Charles and Claudenia need to take heed if they want to be successful teachers. Because in both cases, pupil knows best.

About milkwithtwo

A blog about my experience as a Head of Year, looking at some of the issues faced by young people and teachers in the UK. Offering straight-talking child-centred advice with a little slice of my international teaching experience. Best served with tea.
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27 Responses to Tough Young Teachers: “I would have cared, if he did.”

  1. Ahmed says:

    I found your review and observations quite interesting. It came across as a person who has never really experienced a claah of ethic culture in an academic environment and certainly not in South London. As a student, I attended both primary and secodary schools in S Lonfon some 40 years ago and unfortunately it would appear that nothing has really changed. These young teachers are ill-equipped to handle kids who, for whatever reason, are bent on being disruptive and in some cases, see it as a mission to break teachers in submission. Your solution of empathy, moral support, positive feedback and manipulation of ego are all good tactics but you either have it or you don’t and if you do, how much of your time can you devote to one student/Caleb. Also, students do not know best – they have an opinion as much as anyone else in the classroom.

  2. milkwithtwo says:

    but exam results are the benchmarks by which we are all judged. Schools are constantly inventing, adapting to stay ahead. Like the Btec count in and now of course it is discounted. So subject knowledge and teaching to exams becomes critical in the ever lasting race to which we all subscribe. I think TF plays to this because, after all it is what counts.

  3. Tom Grey says:

    I’m sorry but I missed the bit where Charles said that he ‘because he is bright graduate with a first he is a good teacher’. I don’t think any of the teachers on the show think they would walk in being great teachers and having spoken to other teachers…you are always going to be making a lot mistakes at the beginning regardless of which teaching route you enrolled onto.

    • milkwithtwo says:

      Hi Tom, I never said Charles or any of the TF grads said that, I just think the marketing around TF suggests that TF teachers are saving the education system because of their degree classification. I think you are absolutely right, good teachers and good teaching come from a variety of routes and backgrounds and it is really healthy and necessary to have a mix.

      Thanks for your comments, JK

      • apf102 says:

        Ideology and mantras aside – there has been a big issue of recruiting people to teaching with top quality degrees. I am not a big believer in the TF method but I do think that a greater mix of people in teaching, especially when that strengthens subject expertise, cannot be a bad thing in the long run.

        My biggest worry with TF is that they train people out of using their expertise by focusing them too much on exam results

  4. parra67 says:

    A group of us (PGCE students) were discussing this at university yesterday and we agreed with some of the points you make. Perhaps the most important being that we are pretty sure that the programme makers are not showing us the full picture at all. We know this without testing ourselves too much as we are really only shown the teachers’ interactions with one or at most two classes when we know there must be more. We can also pretty much make a safe bet that in the other classes things run far more smoothly and are therefore far less airtime worthy.

    We also discussed the focus on high achieving academics becoming teachers, we’ve seen in our own area, where attracting teachers into any subject specialism from year 7 and beyond was particularly difficult, flood in new recruits under the Teach First programme and we (those of us who are parents or who are on placements) see them trickle out again. Being a coastal town it is hard not to visualise the ebbing and flowing of the tides when thinking about it. However, this isn’t a phenomenon peculiar to the teaching profession, in these parts it is symptomatic of all professions and something to do with the social structure of this region… perhaps. After years of working in the NHS I know that inevitably newly recruited medical and nursing staff who relocated from outside of the area didn’t stick around for long. I think we have to be mindful of this when we consider the numbers of Teach First or any new teachers leaving the profession, it isn’t a simple matter of ‘the job’, not always.

    We did agree however that there needs to be a mix of new recruits, yes we need people who are ‘geeky’ about their subject, especially if that translates into passion which in turn created enthusiasm and even awe in the students. We saw in Educating Yorkshire how “Mr Steer’s brilliant, he’s dead brainy, he’s better than that Stephen Hawkins like”, his mathematical ability and his boundless enthusiasm had an impact which allowed him to make those connections with the students that so many teachers struggle to make. To imagine that being a high achieving subject specialist is all it takes is to be naive though and if that is the deciding factor when dishing out jobs then we’re heading into some major problems. But at the same time as the Teach First high fliers are moving in, we PGCE’ers are being prepped in the wings and most of us come from ‘the real world’ either of industry experience, mid life career changers or non-traditional HE students. There’s a bit more life experience and some perhaps better developed people skills, but that still doesn’t mean we’re ideal or better. Teaching takes a whole package, confidence in ability to teach, to communicate with others and in our specialist knowledge. Not to mention bucket loads of empathy and I think this is where your main argument lies.

    My placement is with a group of 18 year olds, 2nd year of level 3 BTEC and some of them are challenging but it’s not right to write them off, it’s not right as a teacher to blame them, it’s not right as a teacher to give in because everyone else has. I see these opportunities to make a connection and a difference, to succeed where others have failed as a personal challenge, as an opportunity to ask what has been tried before? What was the outcome? Can I have a go at something different? To me that’s where the value in teaching lies, in making a difference, turning something around. It’s not the row of kids sitting at the table in their pyjamas after their baths eating their supper that motivate me, it’s the one who is flying around the house refusing to do anything still in her school uniform, that’s the one who needs me most, that’s the one who will test me and let me prove to myself that I can make a difference, after all that’s the reason I’m heading down this road, to make a difference. It’s not to say that the ones at the table aren’t important, they are of course and I do my best to meet their expectations and to keep them in the state they are in and to prevent them taking off and running around the house too.

    Caleb was in PRU, Caleb, as we saw, worked very hard to get out of PRU, Caleb himself said with pride in September “It’s not easy to get out of PRU but I did it, it was hard man, but I did it”. Is that someone who has given up on himself? Is that someone who doesn’t realise where he needs to be? Is that someone who as his teacher said “Wanted to go back to PRU”? Caleb was able to identify the problem he was having “everyone had moved on, they were doing better than I was because I’d been at PRU so I felt stupid didn’t I?”. Why wasn’t anyone else able to identify that in Caleb? Why didn’t anyone ask him, other than the production team? Why didn’t Caleb feel able to say that was the problem, or if he did why wasn’t he supported? It’s sad, all that we can hope as teachers and/or parents who should all feel saddened that this child has been let down is that he will come across someone who can give him what he deserves in FE, let’s hope he heads there and tries to catch up and that when he does he’s got someone who cares to at least try to keep the spark which was obviously within him alive.

    I heard someone say about a difficult girl in my class that she should be thrown out and what does she want to be doing a course for anyway she’s got a job at Tesco. I said she clearly wanted something better for herself, hence her enrolling in a course, but she hadn’t enrolled on the course she was on, she had signed up for a totally different one which was in the line of work she hoped to pursue, I know this because I’ve talked to her. So why stick at it for 2 years then? Because she is totally lacking confidence and self esteem, she is not empowered enough to challenge authority or perhaps she doesn’t want to be a drop out, maybe she has some pride.. ASK HER!. She’s struggling and because of that she’s disruptive, she’s bored, she’s not studying a subject she is interested in or wants to study but to make up numbers she’s where she is, she has carried on because she thought that was her only choice initially and now she’s so far down the line she doesn’t want to stop, or can’t stop so HELP HER! Two things, ask and help, if they fail then give up but don’t call yourself a teacher if you’re not prepared to do those two things and don’t assume that just because someone else has failed to make an inroad that you will fail too, you might just have that quality that does make the difference.

    My responses to your posts are always essay length but you raise such valid points.

    I love the way that the dinner cooked by the chef teacher just knows that he will teach in a public school before much longer … that tickled me that bit. It was a bit like the idea of the Sandhurst officer mixing with the rank and file for a couple of weeks before he’s whisked off back where he belongs.It was awfully kind of him though to stump up for a staff social, his heart is in the right place.

    • milkwithtwo says:

      I love your essay length responses, you always give me food for thought too. I have just seen too many young people like Caleb written off before they have two feet in a classroom. Charles’ dislike was palpable but as professionals or even adults, who are we to write them off?

      We need more discussions with our young people. They usually have all the right answers. I read on Twitter that ‘Caleb described himself as an arrogant child one year on’ and some suggesting that kids are inherently evil and difficult. Your posts always remind me that there are caring, decent and level-headed people out there.

      Thanks for that! Hope the course is going well. JK

      • parra67 says:

        It’s going well, almost two thirds done now.

        I think you’re right about listening to young people, they see things so much more unblinkered than we do. I learn so much about how to parent my children from listening to my children. People laugh this but when they were younger and I was working in NHS Project Management I was acutely aware of the fact that I was around less and less and I worried I wasn’t being the best mum I could be so I set a Friday night dinner appraisal system up. Each Friday night we would all sit down to dinner together without exception. While I was cooking the kids would go into another room and grade my motherly performance that week on a number of criteria – listening, practical caring, emotional support, financial provision, humour and fun… they chose them. I was to be graded out of 10 with 10 being super mum and 1 being in need of adoption.

        It was a brave thing to do not crazy, children can be harsh but they can also surprise you with their insight and their reasonableness. I failed to ever score over a 6 in some criteria, I fared well in financial provision, emotional support and fun more often than not.

        Imagine if teachers were appraised every Friday in such a way? How valuable would that be? I used to be a little fearful of my appraisal but we always ended up in a good conversation and that bit closer as a family and that little bit more aware of each other’s shortcomings and strengths and I always felt happy and content that I was doing as good a job as I could and they knew that.

        Education is about them not us, too often that seems to be forgotten..maybe I should offer Mr Gove the paperwork from my old parental appraisals and see if he fancies adopting it as a national strategy? That would make for some ruffled feathers.

      • milkwithtwo says:

        I think that is a bloody fantastic idea… although my three year old would probably rate me according to his car collection!!

        I have done surveys of my class and year group. I agree with pupils evaluating me. I have had some great comments- one which came last year from a very timid girl which simply said ” I love the way you know what I am thinking Miss and you know how I feel so I don’t have to say when I don’t understand”. That was a huge compliment to me.

        I was wondering how to follow up to some of the negative responses to the current blog but once again, you have given me an idea!

        You can do a Survey Monkey or I have used Google to create anon surveys to ask for feedback, and you are right, young people are astoundingly honest. The bit that sticks in your gut does make for closer relationships, IF, you act on them.

        Thanks for your time (and sounding like your mum, shouldn’t you be in bed?) and your amazing ideas. Have you considered keeping a journal of these amazing ideas of yours or even blogging? Because they are spot on!

      • parra67 says:

        I do blog sporadically. I love the debate that this post has brought about. Different opinions add to the development of more rounded opinions. We’d all love to think we’re right but it’s quite nice to stop and think “hmmm, maybe accepting that point and adding it to my ‘right’ has made me even more right”. Haha, we have to look for the positives in everything, no matter how we spin them out.

    • apf102 says:

      In fairness – everyone when being filmed will have a particular image of themselves they want to portray. In Caleb’s case he wants this narrative of a young man who has triumphed over adversity to get what he wants in life. The difficulty with this is that he is not sure how to maintain this and finish the story. In the same way Charles wants to see himself as a victim in his own story of his teaching – he lacks the experience and confidence to know that students challenge teachers day in day out. Finally, I am guessing the school will be beginning to tell the story of a ‘bright you thing’ who simply doesn’t have the soft skills to engage these disengaged teenagers. We move into ‘they behave in my class’ syndrome and Charles becomes isolated. We all play out the narratives of our lives in a way which suits us (this doesn’t mean these narratives are malign). We do need to be aware however that this is what the TV company will show us!!

      • milkwithtwo says:

        you are absolutely right but I am not sure a character or narrative can be upheld for as long as it has been- there has to be truth to the personalities we are being given a glimpse into. Out of all the narratives, Caleb’s is probably the more honest- you see his tears, his laughter, his anger etc;

        I just haven’t seen or felt sincerity from Charles, yet have seen it and felt it from Claudenia (could just be their natures) but once again, you make some excellent points to mull over. Have a great day, JK

      • parra67 says:

        Interesting points.

        If we compare to Educating Yorkshire it was (after its first two programmes) in danger of settling in a very different spot to its eventual resting place as an inspirational, award winning documentary.

        I think the personal narrative there was being played out by all of the main actors, both student and teacher, but the difference was we saw it through to conclusion (almost) and we saw the actors change their own narrative and influence one another to change theirs.

        Perhaps the glaring difference between the two programmes is that the teachers from Educating Yorkshire were experienced and perhaps not so long ago were themselves the Tough Young Teachers.

        Perhaps we should view the two programmes side by side or end to end to get a more complete picture.

        Then again, as I think most comments here have suggested, is the difference even more glaringly obvious than that and simply down to TV producers, directors and the editors doing their bidding?

  5. apf102 says:

    On a connected note, there is a real trend of anti-intellectualism running through a section of the teaching community at the moment. I got into quite a heated debate recently when someone ridiculed a man who held two masters’ level degrees for having only survived a few days of teaching. The person in question noted with glee how his mother had come in to pick up his things. What had he done to deserve this? He tried hard in school, worked through the education system and then wanted to give something back. Sometimes we seem to revel in the failure of the highly qualified more than others for some reason. Sadly this experience is not isolated. I can distinctly remember, 2 years ago, being told not to bother interviewing a history candidate with a PhD as he would be “no good at relating to kids.” Now, as it turned out, he was not the best candidate for the job, but that was nothing to do with his qualifications. We have to stop attacking our own. Teaching needs a mix of people – it should never be dominated by a single group so why do we give those with high academic qualifications such a hard time? Yes there are a load of other skills involved in teaching, but good qualifications do not make you a bad teacher. Indeed, if you have the soft skills to master classroom management, they give you a great way to make your lessons interesting, enaging and exciting without “dumbing down.” This of course is exarcerbated by a school system which has rewarded student “engagement” (read entertainment) over real understanding of subjects. The real question is why nobody is making sure that these kids don’t waste the opportunities they are being given. If we always allow a child’s background to dominate their school experiences then we never give them a real chance to move beyond them!

    • milkwithtwo says:

      I totally agree the denigration of the profession needs to stop. I am not a snob at all but I do think there are things that teachers need to posses. Empathy is one of them. I work with someone who has PHD and no PGCSE, is he a good teacher? Yes, emphatically. I am not giving anyone’s qualifications a hard time, I am giving their attitude a hard time. But I totally take on board what you say, we stand a better chance united.

      Again thanks for your comments, JK

      • milkwithtwo says:

        We can only mold and shape from a position that is the same or higher. I agree with you that it can not continue and that there has to be standards but not every child has the whole kit and caboodle so therefore requires teaching, talking and discussions about what is acceptable. From mutual ground, the dynamics would shift.

  6. apf102 says:

    “I have to agree with Caleb that ‘respect is earned’ and both Charles and Claudenia need to take heed if they want to be successful teachers. Because in both cases, pupil knows best”

    Surely any classroom relationship has to begin with respect. Teachers are there to teach and support students and students in turn should benefit from this relationship. To say that new teachers should earn respect is utterly mad! The default for any relationship has to be mutual respect otherwise respect cannot grow at all. Even if respect is only a formality at the beginning, you cannot run a school where every single person starts, as you suggest, having no respect at all. Now that respect can be lost, but from what I have seen, Caleb began from a point of having no respect in the first place. Caleb is the issue here, not the teachers who are being asked to deal with a system which does not expect mutual respect.

    • milkwithtwo says:

      Hi Apf102, I guess what I am trying to say is that Caleb came with a poor attitude because of his background and it is up to the teacher to engage him. I don’t think that Charles gave him a fair shot and it is up to him as the adult/teacher. There was no real conflict resolution for either situation and both teachers, in my opinion, handled them wrongly. My comment about pupils knowing best was do with the comments they made about respect and in Claudenia’s case what the girls said about her language- it was disrespectful.

      I have being teaching a long time and I have always found that if you are respectful and sincere, students like Caleb and the girls in 10D3 will respond positively. I also learnt that the hard ways but saying sorry when you’re wrong isn’t a bad thing.

      I don’t suggest having no respect but as teachers / adults we need to model the behaviour we expect to see. Charles comment about caring could have come from Caleb as much Claudenia’s comments could have been said by the girls. There was no mutual respect to begin with.

      Thanks for your comments, I hope I have in some way clarified myself. JK

      • apf102 says:

        I don’t disagree that a key part of a teacher’s job is to engage students, but there is also a larger school responsibility for establishing what behaviour is acceptable in school and in school relationships. If we constantly allow students to have different standards then we fail them in that sense. I have worked with kids from similarly difficult backgrounds who have been polite and courteous in school – there is an element of choice that Caleb is making here – if we don’t recognise that then we actually infantilise him.

        Charles on the other hand has the right to be angry when a school system he clearly cares about fails to support on of the most basic needs of a new teacher, classroom management.

        I agree to an extent that the TF programme throws people in too quickly but I also think we need to maintain the highest expectations for respectful relationships between students and staff. This may involve removing or even excluding students. But as we also saw in Educating Yorkshire, sometimes people do not respond until they have actually been forced to face the consequences of their actions – it is what good parents do all the time and is a key part of being in loco parentis.

      • milkwithtwo says:

        I agree with you about the systems in place and I do think students should be treated fairly but individually. Caleb and Charles were polemic characters; it is not fine for an adult to say “I’d have cared, if he did’.

        The pupil has a background, you don’t get a place in the PRU for nothing and as he said he had to ‘work hard’ to get back into mainstream. So he was capable of behaving accordingly. Caleb remains the child in this. It was up to the school / teacher to engage him. I am not naive enough to believe it was the only lesson Caleb had difficulties with but I bet there was one he engaged with. There is always a way.

        It was a total lack of self esteem that saw Caleb act out in the way he did. I just think with a little support from a mentors or a little experience on the part of Charles would have seen a whole different outcome; meaning the pupil/teacher relationship may have been salvageable long enough for a GCSE result.

        I am curious, how would you have handled it?

      • apf102 says:

        I wouldn’t make a claim to have enough experience in this area – the case is too specific. Pupil teacher relationships change and adapt all the time. What I worry about is the defence of a lack of respect because Caleb has worked hard to get back in mainstream or has a difficult background. We make allowances for things like this all the time in teaching but there is also a responsibility to the rest of the group and to Caleb himself – we do people no favours when we allow them to be less than the people they should be

  7. sia200 says:

    Some interesting points. Just to clarify: all Teach First teachers have two mentors in school as well as a mentor from the university that they are doing their PGCE through as well as someone providing a similar role from Teach First itself. This just isn’t necessarily shown but it may be that those teachers don’t want to go on TV (I know I wouldn’t). Most TF teachers don’t believe that they will be good teachers at first: it is just the marketing that surrounds it that implies this!

    • milkwithtwo says:

      Hi Sia,

      As said on my post, I can only see and comment on what was shown on the screen. From own perspective, Claudenia and Charles both needed some to sit down and help those situations. I was left with the impression that there was little input from colleagues from either school or TF.

      Can you explain the 6 weeks of training and your comment about PGCSE. I thought it was a bit like my GTP course where there is no theory just practice.

      We all start with good intentions as did the teachers in TYT. Read my Reflective Journal to see almost identical first year teaching experiences.

      Thanks for your comments! JK

      • sia200 says:

        Glad to clarify! TF teachers have 6 weeks of theory as well as some classroom based practice (which has since increased due to feedback from participating schools so it is now slightly different to when I did it) at the universities that they complete their PGCE with. They then begin to teach on a reduced timetable and are observed roughly once or twice a week for the first year and complete academic assignments based on theory. They also attend several training days a term at the university, which are subject specific as well as evening training sessions which are more general. After the first year, TF students have a PGCE qualification and the second year is their NQT year, which is the same as any other.

        I think the TV show minimises showing the level of support given to try and increase the drama as well as play on the ‘Tough Young’ idea of the show. Of course, as with all ITT routes, support varies within schools and it is not always what it should be! My comment above is based on my experience of fantastic support and what should be in place (according to the agreements drawn up between the school and TF).

        A colleague was completing her GTP whilst I was training and I think that GTP and Teach First are possibly the most similar of the training routes. TF just have a heavier timetable.

      • milkwithtwo says:

        I did count the number of non contacts on Charles’ timetable and it did seem an awful to me. I was eased in in my GTP, had the summer term and no Yr 11 class to persuade me. But in hindsight, I would not have changed my GTP route for anything, I had PGCSE colleagues and they seemed to have a rougher ride. However, I missed out on the theory (and it interests me) so really looking forward to starting my MA in Leadership soon.

        Again thanks for reading and clarifying! Are you still in the profession?

      • sia200 says:

        Can’t seem to be able to reply to your other comment! Yes I am, as are most of the people that I started with (despite negative headlines lol). I think you hit the nail on the head: the GTP was right for you, PGCE is right for others and TF is right for others. I think it is a good thing to have a variety of routes into teaching that suit different needs etc.

    • johnahobson says:

      Victory TV never filmed any of the support classes and network. Raises a Q why?

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