Like every profession, teaching is having to reinvent itself without any notice. Here at Now Teach, we therefore also have to adapt the way that we work to support our teachers. It is our mission to bring experienced professionals into teaching and then support them through training and the early years of their career. Our network and support programme has never been more important if we are to ensure that our teachers are to stay in the classroom for the long-term. These are unprecedented and challenging times. So how have we adapted?

Meeting career-changers’ needs

Recent events have only pushed us to further be responsive to the needs of our trainees. We are not a training provider, but we are a support network for career-changers; offering formal and informal opportunities to network and learn, a Now Teach conference and tailored professional development from leading speakers in the field of education, all designed to complement Initial Teacher Training (ITT) training.

Career changers can need a different support to that of, say, a graduate entering the profession. As part of our on-boarding for new trainees we are running a session on navigating the change curve and adapting culturally to their new career, how and why progress feels different when training to teach as a career changer, and how to navigate perfectionism when faced with competing priorities.

However, much of our offer outlined has had to flex since the outbreak of Covid-19. Just three days after lockdown began, we delivered our first network session led by Harry Fletcher Wood, Associate Dean at the Institute for Teaching. One trainee said: “Well, it seems that the crisis got us to use a very effective online tool (Zoom) and be able to get things done online (even socialising!). So, indeed, opportunities arise from crises. Thank you for organising the webinars and keeping things going. Extremely useful!”

Listening and responding

Our Now Teach programme managers are in regular contact with trainees and each term we undertake a survey to capture feedback and ensure our offer is relevant and responsive. We are still a relatively young organisation, co-founded in 2016 by former Financial Times journalist, Lucy Kellaway. We are learning with our trainees; every year and with each cohort, we have defined and strengthened the Now Teach offer.

When recently surveyed, we found that 78% of the cohort said they found digital delivery easier to access. Digital delivery gives us the opportunity to continue to access the best speakers in education and because of this we have been able to offer more sessions – increasing our network events from six to 17 events between March-July, including sessions from our conference which was scheduled for July.

Connecting to a network

As our trainees adapt from their old life into teaching, we want to help shape their thinking around what kind of teacher they want to be and how they can bring their experience into their classroom. Since lockdown many of our trainees felt quite isolated not going into schools, so in response we set up a series of online events to keep them connected to each other.

We have also created online sessions that they can use to evidence the Teaching Standards in the absence of live teaching. Over 260 attendees have joined our online events since March. The team have been quick to adapt and the success of virtual events with Dylan William on formative assessment and David Weston on teacher development encourages us to drive a ‘virtual first’ agenda in our planning for next year, opening up the network and support programme even further across our regions.

One-to-one support

On an individual basis, Now Teach offers a personal programme manager, wellbeing coaching and subject and career coaching – helping ‘Now Teachers’ get to where they want to be in schools. The programme managers are happy to listen to all concerns that the trainees have and, more often than not, know of another ‘Now Teacher’ who has been through the same, so we connect them to each other to support them to feel less isolated.

It is with great pride that we can report 100% of our cohort rated the support they receive from the programme team as Good or Excellent. As one of our trainees said: “The mission and vision for Now Teach is so very much required. Training to be a teacher is tough. But here I am, and I am staying because Now Teach makes it possible for me to connect with my ‘tribe’ – the events, networking and your staff make it possible.”

If you would like to find out more about the Now Teach support, or to work with us, please get in touch with me via sarah.shaw@nowteach.org.uk. This year our career changers are training over 40 different providers across the London, the South East, Midlands and East of England.

Sarah Shaw is Head of Programmes at Now Teach