Meeting the Every Child Matters agenda and the challenge for employers: a tale of two cities

Grant type: Research
Round: Research grant 2008
Amount awarded £9,999.42
Completed: December 2011
Leader(s): Dr Sean MacBlain
Organisation: University College Plymouth St Mark & St John
Contact Email: smacblain@marjon.ac.uk
Contact phone: 01752636700 (Ext. 5666)
Partners:
Annie Fisher
School of Education and Professional Development, University College Plymouth, St. Mark & St. John
Audrey Curry
School of Education, Stranmillis University College, Queen's University of Belfast
Dr Noel Purdy
School of Education, Stranmillis University College, Queen's University of Belfast
Kathy Jarrett
School of Education and Professional Development, University College Plymouth, St. Mark & St. John
Sharon James
School of Education and Professional Development, University College Plymouth, St. Mark & St. John
Wendy Geens
School of Education and Professional Development, University College Plymouth, St. Mark & St. John
Start Date: 11 November 2008
End Date: 18 November 2011
Interim report received: 29 September 2009
Final report received: 28 November 2011

Faced with growing numbers of pupils with special needs head teachers are increasingly charged with the challenge of employing Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) who require not only different types of professional skills and knowledge sets but also the necessary personal qualities to respond effectively to the increasingly diverse needs of their pupils. This small-scale qualitative study undertaken by University College Plymouth, St. Mark & St. John and Stranmillis University College explored the experiences of NQTs and their head teachers in schools in inner-city Plymouth and Belfast. Findings revealed similar perceptions among NQTs and head teachers. Head teachers, in particular, recognised the value not just of academic qualifications but also of highly developed personal and social skills in NQTs which they saw as central to the formation of positive relationships with pupils, parents and colleagues and which support NQTs in coping with the challenges of meeting a wide range of diverse needs. The findings have implications for how NQTs are prepared for their professional careers and for the support they receive in their first years of teaching and have already impacted greatly on the practice of both institutions at the heart of the study resulting in significant changes to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within, for example, the area of special needs and/or disability. It is important, therefore, that Initial Teacher Training (England) and Initial Teacher Education (Northern Ireland) providers do not assume that non-academic personal skills (for instance resilience and coping strategies, assertiveness, communication, confidence and sense of humour) are left to chance or serendipity but rather that they should offer a much greater focus in the preparation for entry to the teaching profession. It is these same teachers who are being prepared to develop such personal skills and personal capabilities in their pupils. This study is timely in that it comes at a time of much proposed change in the future recruitment and preparation of teachers in the UK.