Top marks for training

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An initiative in Harrogate and Ripon schools to provide aspiring teachers with real classroom experience has received a glowing report in its first government inspection.

Ofsted officials gave the School Centred Initial Teaching Training (SCITT) programme an overall rating of Good, with leadership and management recognised as Outstanding - the highest possible rating.

Following visits to a number of schools which run the initiative in the Harrogate Borough Council area, the inspectors praised SCITT leaders for being ‘relentless in their commitment to continuous self-improvement’ and recognised a ‘strong moral purpose to grow the best quality teachers for schools’.

Andrew Symonds, headteacher at Richard Taylor Church of England School in Harrogate, is a manager at HART of Yorkshire Partnership, the group of Harrogate district schools which collaborate to run the SCITT programme.

He said: “This is fantastic for us because it’s a validation of what we have been aiming to achieve.

“We’re providing high-quality training for people who want to be the teachers of the future. They are learning from practitioners who are still very much in contact with pupils. SCITT is school-led and school-based.“

Mr Symonds explained that the SCITT programme differed from conventional routes into teaching by providing four-days of weekly training within a school, rather than taking a degree before doing a short placement in a classroom environment.

He added: “At the end of their course our graduates have a really good understanding of what it takes to be a teacher. This is reflected in the Ofsted report.

“But no organisation aims to stand still and this is great validation of where we have got so far.”

Kirkby Malzeard CE School head Andrea Peacock said she could see the scheme’s value.

“We’re absolutely thrilled. It’s been very much a team effort with the schools involved and the tutors.

“As a head teacher I can see the value of the SCITT programme. The graduates come in to schools very well prepared because they have had that exposure to teaching and have been hands-on. Training on the job makes such a difference.

“I think it’s about the collaboration; it’s school-led so we all have the commitment to develop that next generation of teachers and ensure they have the tools to deliver.”

The successful inspection is the first for the HART schools since they adopted the SCITT programme five-and-a-half years ago. The collaboration comprises 30 schools including Spofforth and Follifoot CE Primary Schools, Bilton Grange, North Stainley, Sharow CE Primary, Kirkby Malzeard CE and Grewelthorpe CE.

Participating schools say the success of the programme is down to all members working in collaboration – a strength recognised by Ofsted inspectors.

“Headteachers, school-based tutors and trainees value their involvement in the partnership,” said the report. “Partnership schools provide very effective training venues and are fully engaged in all aspects of the partnership’s work.”

For more information on the SCITT initiative and the HART of Yorkshire Partnership, go to