Benefits of School Direct as an ITT route

As a head teacher, what do you think are the benefits of having a School Direct trainee and
what are the positive effects it has had on your staff and children?

Having School Direct trainees in school adds an extra dimension to a department through the experiences and quality that they bring, they can re-invigorate existing teachers and create more energy and capacity with teams. If they are developed well through a quality in School ITT programme, particularly alongside PGCE, NQT and RQT teachers then they quickly enable the school to be more creative with delivery of curriculum and consequently improve outcomes for students.

Jon Boyes, Principal
Herne Bay High School


There are huge benefits for us as a school, having Schools Direct trainees here.  Trainees get full immersion in the job, the setting and the opportunities, within a carefully planned support structure and we, of course, get to work with and shape new talent in the profession.  We are always looking out for good teachers and we love the fresh ideas and enthusiasm that trainees bring with them.  Staff enjoy stepping up to mentor and support and work with our trainees and this process in itself, helps them become more reflective practitioners as well as developing their leadership skills.  Staff identified as strong practitioners in specific areas also enjoy the accolade of having trainee teachers working with them.  It is fabulous for recruitment and fabulous for retention - win win!

Vicky Willis, Head of School
King Ethelbert School 


Having School Direct trainees has always been integral to my school’s development. This has been a route that has been used by many of my teaching assistants and for me personally has meant that I have been able to work with trusted colleagues and see them develop into to strong teachers.  This is an excellent route into teaching because of the first-hand experience that you get by being fully involved in school life and to work as a member of a dedicated team.

I trust that teachers coming through from the School Direct route are confident, flexible and have been immersed well into a positive school culture.

Bev Farrell, Principal
The Canterbury Primary School


As a professional or subject mentor, what are the benefits of having a School Direct trainee on your own professional development and on the children in your school?

When a trainee gains a place on the programme, the trainee becomes part of the school community. They are given the opportunity to learn, grow and develop the skills needed to shape their own practice, with the guidance of all members of staff in the school. They will be immersed in the school’s ethos and practices as well as being part of whole school CPD. All this enables the trainee to feel part of ‘the team’ and joins us in working toward the whole school priorities and to equip our young learners for life

Gayle Jones, Professional Mentor
King Ethelbert School

Being a mentor for Schools Direct trainees has helped developed my own practice by ensuring that I keep up to date with current legislation and guidelines for initial teacher training and the teaching standards.

Through regular team teaching, observation and feedback, I have been able to develop my coaching skills and my role as a mentor, which in turn has supported my development of staff across the school.

Our children benefit greatly from someone who is receiving up to date, current training across the primary curriculum and is therefore able to bring new ideas in to the classroom. Having an additional adult in the class also supports the children's learning, as well as building new relationships with a range of adults.

Beth Wilson, Deputy Head
The Canterbury Primary School

One of the many benefits of having a School Direct trainee is how quickly she has become a part of the English Department.  Having a long-term placement means the students accept her as a teacher, and welcome her in the classroom.  This obviously builds the trainee’s confidence as a teacher and strengthens her relationships with students.  This is true of the department as well. Knowing that the trainee will be with us all year allows us to plan long term strategies together, developing her role as a teacher in a gradual, meaningful way.

Sally Jellett, English Mentor
Dane Court Grammar School

The benefit of having a School Direct Trainee is the opportunity the trainee brings to the school to discuss pedagogical advances and examine the identity we have as a school.  There is nothing as rewarding as supporting a School Direct trainee through their teaching and guiding them through the early years of teaching.  Working with others in their practice, one cannot help but be reflective on our own practice.  In the professional mentoring team, we have School Direct trainees, PGCE trainees and RQTs and it is fair to say that I learn just as much as they do about the true identity of being a professional teacher, and the personal relationships we build as a team are highly positive.  Supporting a School Direct trainee is a joy and a delight to all involved.”

Miriam Hobbs, Professional mentor
Herne Bay High School

As a School Direct trainee, what are the benefits of School Direct as an ITT route? Why would you recommend this route to others? 

When I was researching which route into teaching to take, I toyed with both the Uni led PGCE route and also Schools Direct. In the end after weighing up the advantages of both I went for the SD route. It meant I was able to spend more time in school from the very beginning and really immerse myself in the rigours of being a teacher. You are treated as an equal by teacher peers and have such wonderful support in place. You also still have the option of doing the PGCE qualification if you want, which I am doing. All this coupled with the fact I live local and know I will be here for the majority of the year, made it an easy decision and one I am happy I took!

School Direct Trainee
King Ethelbert School

I would, and have recommend this route to others. It is a good route to take for those that learn better when they are doing the task in hand. I was able to sit back and observe teaching at its best. This was key in helping me decide what kind of teacher I wanted to be and also steal and use strategies. As well as this, I was able to experience different school environments and even though it was daunting it was also very beneficial. I was able to take ideas, adapt lessons and this really helped when I was moved around year groups.

I was lucky enough to get a salaried post. If I did not have a salaried post I would not be able to do the training due to having a mortgage and other financial commitments.

Sophie Supple, NQT
The Canterbury Primary School

In September 2014 I worked at Joy Lane Primary School as a teaching assistant. I was happy, I loved working with children but I wanted more. With a mind filled with worries about work-life balance and if my family could cope with me taking on a challenge, I found myself walking towards the Head Teacher’s office. Before I had time to really process what my feet were doing, I had blurted out the words that couldn’t be taken back “I want to train to be a teacher!” My Head was very supportive and we sat and talked through the application process which seemed like a tall order as there were so many hurdles to jump through, personal statements, an interview, an observed lesson and I felt like I had skills tests coming out of my ears! I let the dust settle and organised these hurdles into manageable time frames to focus on each one at a time and each hurdle I jumped over made me hungry for the next and to start the School’s Direct programme.

Before I knew it, it was June 2015 and the Senior Leadership Team were informing us of which year group we would be working in and which class teacher I would be with. I felt sick when they told me that I was with the teacher I believed to be the very best Joy Lane had to offer. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and now I would have to look like a fool in front of someone I truly admired and idolised. After the summer holidays, I came in and was soon pushed out of my comfort zone as a teaching assistant and within the second week I was teaching a lesson with my class teacher sat at the back of the room. The lesson was OK, if you consider a very sweaty teacher talking at the rate of knots and a child sat at the front of the classroom with her head on the desk telling me how boring my lesson was. I wanted to ground to open up and swallow me whole. There were many more moments like that with different people watching me teach but there were also a thousand more times when the children were asking me when I was teaching them history next and showing me the extra homework they had done because they had been inspired by a lesson I had taught. Me. The sweaty teacher, drowning in front of 30 children! Before the year was up, my class teacher had pushed me to my limit with challenges, workload and additional commitments and at times I thought I would never survive my training year, but I’m so glad she did. I qualified my Schools Direct year with an Outstanding.

Stacey Gilmore, Middle Leader
Joy Lane Primary School

I always wanted to go down the school direct route because of the time I had spent volunteering in the school. I loved the idea of being hands on and seeing first-hand how the life of a school day worked.

I interviewed for the PGCE as I saw it benefits around gaining knowledge and insights from research, however chose the school direct route as I was able to put my planning and knowledge in to action every day. I was able to see ‘behind the scenes’ as it were. Understand what else is involved around being a teacher and learning from a range of amazing teachers all in one location.

I am a kinaesthetic learner and love to be hands on and get stuck in which works really well with the school direct route as you learn on the job and work with a range of children everyday which you possible can’t always gain elsewhere.

On this route I am able to see something amazing from another teacher and go back to my class and plan a lesson and give a try within the same week; whereas in another route I may have seen something but not been able to put it in to practice up until a few months later when so much had happened between those moments.

Keegan Goldsack, SD trainee
The Canterbury Primary School

School Direct is an excellent pathway into teaching, it allows you to become fully immersed in your chosen profession. It has given me an amazing opportunity to make a difference in young children's lives. School Direct has enabled me to spend every day doing what I love. This has been made a valuable experience by the supportive networks of not only fellow students but the professional mentors, who are always there to talk to, reassure you and give superb advice.

Nikki Silence, SD trainee
The Canterbury Primary School

First and foremost I believe it is essential to acknowledge that every individual, regardless of school based experience, brings with them diverse and unique skill sets that can profoundly benefit all children. I had a passion for working with children from a very young age, but for many differing reasons it wasn't till my late 20's that even the possibility of one day becoming a teacher seemed remotely obtainable. Getting onto the Schools Direct programme was a substantial turning point in my professional life and one I look back on with a growing sense of pride. Through a combination of the fantastic EKLA evening sessions and the outstanding opportunities and mentoring provided by my base school, I have always felt incredibly fortunate to have undertaken this excellent route into teaching. The mentoring I received gave me the skill set needed to teach others and the classroom based experiences gave me the confidence to professional push myself every day. While the Schools Direct programme may not always appear to be the easiest option, believe me when I say that that just makes it all the more worthwhile.

James O’Keefe, NQT
Joy Lane Primary School

For me, it was that it put me in the driver’s seat – I could choose a school that I was comfortable with, where I believed I would be supported and whose values and visions were in line with my own.

School Direct means you’re involved from day one (in some cases, this means pupils see you as more of a ‘teacher’) and you can really get a good feel of how the academic year works.

Cathy Redhead, SD trainee
Herne Bay High School



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