North Wales school leads teacher training campaign as pupil numbers surge

YSGOL EIRIAS is leading the campaign to educate future generations of teachers following a surge in demand for pupil places.

The Colwyn Bay school is one of a select group working alongside The School of Educational Sciences at Bangor University as part of its innovative CaBan Teacher Education programme, in partnership with the Regional Consortium GwE and inspired by a review into ITE (Initial Teacher Education) by Professor John Furlong.

In his report, Professor Furlong sets out an ambitious plan for world-leading teacher education in Wales, which forms the basis of the Caban teacher education model.

Wales is undergoing an extensive reform of its education driven by innovative teacher education built on a close collaboration between university academics and leading schools, including Ysgol Eirias.

The new model offers teachers themselves the skills and knowledge to lead the transformation required.

A dearth in trainee teachers has become more of an issue post-pandemic, and Ysgol Eirias Assistant Headteacher Hayley Blackwell – who helped shape the CaBan teacher education programme by giving input from a secondary education perspective – hopes more young people will consider it as a career in future, especially bilingual candidates.

“We’ve been a leading school for teacher training for more than 20 years, and this is one of the most pivotal periods we’ve faced in that time,” said Mrs Blackwell.

“There has been reform, but this is the first year where real change will be implemented after the pandemic, so we are all working hard to raise the numbers.

“The changes have triggered much closer collaboration with schools and further strengthened our links with academics at Bangor University, with the training closer to what will become their future career as it’s put into practice weekly.”

She added: “As one of the larger schools we’ve been able to, on average, accommodate up to 30 trainee teachers, but there has been a decrease in past years.

“The new methods of delivering teacher education, with a day spent every week at the school – as opposed to previous blocks of time – and the rest at university, means we can reinforce the students’ learning and demonstrate the practical side, so they have a real flavour of what’s to come.

“That is much more of an attractive proposition and more reflective of the real-time, real-life workings of the role.

“The pandemic has raised many challenges, particularly concerning the mental health of children; remote learning and other factors have transformed the position of a teacher and teaching assistant, perhaps forever, from a pastoral and academic perspective.

“But it is and always will be a very important, rewarding career, vital to the lives of coming generations of children – we hope more people will pursue it.”

There is a dedicated CaBan teacher education hub at Ysgol Eirias, and, like other schools collaborating with Bangor University, they share the common goal of guiding “the next generation of world-class educators” from initial teacher education, through continuous career-long professional learning.

Hazel Wordsworth, Director of Initial Teacher Education at CaBan, said: “Our aim is to ensure that teachers across the region are fully prepared to deliver on the ambitious targets Wales has set for the quality of its education. We need teachers who are innovative, creative, passionate, and ambitious.

“Teachers who understand the importance of the Welsh language and culture and respect every child and their potential to achieve their best. In this mission, we must not, and cannot fail.”

Ysgol Eirias was in the news recently as part of a group of ‘Pioneer Schools’ which introduced a new curriculum for Year 7 pupils this academic year – ahead of a national rollout in 2023 – and after being named among the Top 10 Sunday Times ‘Parent Power’ high-performing schools in Wales.

Up to 700 people attended its open evening earlier this month and staff and pupils celebrated “exceptional” A Level and GCSE results during the summer.

For more information on Ysgol Eirias, visit the website www.eirias.co.uk or call 01492 532025. Alternatively, email general@eirias.conwy.sch.uk.

Visit www.caban.ac.uk for more on the innovative CaBan teacher education partnership.

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