Stoke and Staffordshire Teacher Education Collective

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Teacher Education Collective (SSTEC) is funded by The Golden Thread Teaching School Hub

The role of a General Mentor (GM) is essential in the development of trainees and beginning teachers. We recognise that GMs are knowledgeable, highly effective teachers who works alongside a trainee to support them in becoming a public professional and a member of the teaching community.

It is vital for children, regardless of their socio-economic status to have access to teachers with a rigorous, evidence-informed and evidence-challenged understanding of the profession. Such teachers are highly aware of the significance of the positive transformational impact of a high quality education. We appreciate that informed professional understandings, developed through professional learning conversations help us all to contribute to ameliorating the geographies of disadvantage. This website creates an intellectual space that GMs and trainees can bring into such dialogues.

The Introduction of the Core Content Framework (CCF) created the opportunity for a group of initial teacher training and education providers to work together to support the essential work of General Mentors.

We are ambitious that this website becomes part of professional dialogues, and that it does not sit external to any such discourse. The intention is that it forms a part of the material in a conversation, rather than a resource that is solely accessed prior or subsequent to the learning conversation. For that significant reason it has been carefully crafted to be easily accessible. The links and questions in each section enrich the work of GMs are not numerous but enabling. They focuses on the five core areas highlighted in the CCF, Assessment, Behaviour, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Professional Behaviours. For each of these key concepts we have identified their significance in specialising the professional knowledge base for teaching.

Each section then extends the professional learning conversation by referencing materials beyond the context of the school, connecting them with the moment of professional learning through the use of key questions. We are ambitious that this approach enables both the GM and trainee to elaborate and evaluate their professional understandings for the benefit of both themselves and their learners.

The questions in each section are, we hope purposeful in nature. They are intended to nurture professional discussions in relation to each of the five areas. We have drawn upon the Seven Principles of Public Life to help us frame the questions. We have also been inspired by the work of Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins.

Each question is intended to be:

  • a prompt for reasoning , responses may not offer a single, solution, but rather will help to deepen and make explicit the purpose or the reasoning that lie behind the pedagogic choices that we make. Each question is likely to prompt learning that is focussed and deep rather than wide and shallow.
  • scholarly, it sparks a curiosity to want to know more. Each question may raise others.
  • analytical in nature, simply responding by describing what happened in a lesson is insufficient. Analysing why is important, so that the professional learning shared is transferrable to other contexts.
  • significant, in that each question can be returned to, so as to enable the coherent accumulation of professional knowledge.
  • collaborative, the answer does not lie within a single person, or a single resource, but rather is developed through the shared and ongoing wisdom of the profession.

Each section of the CCF has links to a range of materials. Rather than repeat these here we have selected a very limited range of specific materials that can form part of the professional learning conversation. The majority of these have been drawn from the Chartered College of Teaching’s website. Their Early Career Hub offers a wealth of further materials. We have also drawn from the Education Endowment Foundation’s website. Their ‘big picture’ section organises the resources into themes and many of these themes enrich professional understanding in relation to the five concepts.

The resource links on our website are intended to be used discursively. Resources that the GMs and trainees can access and debate together. This means observed practices can be analysed in relation to both the insights that the materials offer, as well as in relation to the context of the particular school or setting.

We recognise that teaching and learning are complex processes. We therefore support the professionalism of teachers as being characterised by adaptive rather than routine expertise. Routines, are of course an important element in the development of our professional knowledge. Adaptive expertise requires evidence-based decision making, informed by a strong knowledge-base and driven by an open mind. Informed professional learning conversations help us to understand where our judgments come from, so that the choice of a routine, activity or intervention is carefully thought through.