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Engaging CPD – and celebrations – for our ECT Scholars at the 2023 Annual Conference

Last month, the Future Teaching Scholars (FTS) team welcomed its Year 5 and 6 Scholars to the annual ECT (Early Career Teacher) National Conference in Birmingham at the Crowne Plaza NEC Hotel.

Our dedicated Scholars in their ECT years attended a weekend programme featuring session speakers including Mark McCourt, Jo Morgan and Pritesh Raichura, in addition to three alumni Scholars from our first graduating cohort in 2022.

Nina Dhillon, FTS Director, explained the conference in more detail: “The conference is a mixture of a celebration for our Year 6 Scholars, who are graduating from the programme this summer, and continuous professional development for both Year 5 and 6 Scholars.”

“We’ve got a range of subject specific sessions in addition to subjects that are more pertinent in the education sector – for example, SEND through a maths and physics lens, as well as behaviour. It’s a really exciting, purposeful and meaningful day.”

Many of our Scholars joined us for a dinner on the eve of the conference, taking the opportunity to network with each other and share their successes over the past year.

The Conference began on Saturday morning with an opening session for all Scholars led by Pritesh Raichura, Head of Science at Ark Soane Academy. Pritesh commented on his session, “I shared some concrete practical strategies that teachers can use in their classrooms, as well as some larger underlying principles of how teachers can ensure they have effective behaviour.”

Speaking about the importance of conferences in education Pritesh said, “Conferences like this are really important for early career teachers as they provide an opportunity to network, to meet other people – and that shared experience brings people together.

“I had so many interesting and stimulating conversations with Scholars at various stages in the programme; there was a sense of mission and purpose that was palpable. And when teachers share their stories and experiences, it builds a sense of camaraderie which is what we need in the teaching profession.”

Other sessions were held simultaneously throughout the day, with Scholars attending which sessions were of most interest to them. These sessions included the following topics:

  • Supporting SEND in the classroom (a whole-group session)
  • Low prior attainment pupils and numeracy
  • A-level teaching
  • Challenge in the maths classroom
  • Mastery learning
  • Creating mastery resources
  • What does primary maths look like post-pandemic?
  • What makes a task mathematically rich?
  • Using NRICH as a resource for stretch and challenge
  • Using student-generated data to improve the teaching of statistics

Three of our conference sessions were run by FTS alumni: Elizabeth Sladen, Shadia Moore and Tom Habing – all of whom graduated from the six-year programme in 2022 and are in their fourth year of teaching. As alumni, these talented teachers connect with our Scholars in a unique way and can share their experience as teachers beyond the early career framework.

Tom, a sixth form maths teacher, now has experience of both being a Scholar and mentoring other Scholars. “I’ve had the pleasure of being a mentor to two Scholars, which is amazing – and they were on a different level,” he remarked. “They were ready to go, and they knew the key terminology that I was already using, which is incredible.”

Also in attendance at our conference were our Regional Training Centre (RTC) Coordinators, who coordinate the subject-specific and teacher development opportunities for our Scholars by region. Emily Giubertoni, Regional Training Director based at Bishop Challoner Catholic College, has known our Scholars for several years and commented on their teaching journey.

“There is nowhere else in the education sector where you have such a committed group of teachers,” Emily said. “The fact that when our Scholars were 17, they signed up for a teacher training programme that is six years long, taking them from A-levels to being 24 years of age, in the classroom and moving into subject leadership – I think that’s really powerful. The Scholars are such an inspirational and unique group of people.”

The conference ended with FTS Director Nina Dhillon wrapping up the day with some advice for our Scholars. “Always hone your craft,” Nina said. “There is always so much to learn as a teacher, whether that’s looking at the latest evidence base, building subject networks, or looking at new and proven pedagogy. As we say to our pupils, we aim for them to become lifelong learners – and so too must we as educators.”

The Future Teaching Scholars team would like to extend a big thank you to our session speakers, Alison Kiddle, Elizabeth Sladen, Jamie Freeman, Jo Morgan, Katie Slusar-Fletcher, Mark McCourt, Pritesh Raichura, Rebecca Turvill, Shadia Moore, Tom Habing and Zoe Mather for sharing their knowledge and expertise with our Scholars.