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COBIS Training School Case Study - British School of Bucharest

The British School of Bucharest is one of the first cohort of COBIS Training Schools. COBIS spoke with Victoria Smith, Head of Primary, about the school’s involvement with Initial Teacher Training.

The British School of Bucharest has been actively involved in Initial Teacher Training for a number of years, supporting people through iPGCEs, as well as NQT induction and QTS programmes. The trainees tend to be people they are developing from within their own staff (such as locally-hired Teaching Assistants), as well as spouses of teachers or, in a couple of cases, parents of students. They have worked with a number of different UK University providers, with the choice of provider often coming from the trainee themselves. Trainees identify a course they want to pursue, and the school provides the context and support for the training. British School of Bucharest has expectations that all ITT courses include a mixture of theory, teaching practice, evidence gathering and research.    

How do you identify trainees?

To date, the trainees at BSB have always come from within the wider school community. In some cases, parents or Teaching Assistants have approached the school expressing interest. In other cases, the school has suggested to current staff that they should consider a teaching qualification to develop their career.

“It is partly about identifying talent and trying to stretch them.”

One example from the school was a parent who had been at the school for many years, with a gap in between when the family lived in another country. She was trained to teach MFL in another European country but had not been working while the family was abroad and the children were at school. Once the children were a bit older, she wanted to start working again and approached the school for advice. This parent subsequently decided to pursue a iPGCE with University of Sunderland, while training at BSB. After completing her training, she continued to teach at BSB for a further two years. Her family has now moved to another country, but with her portable qualification and experience she is now working in the MFL/EAL department of another international school.

What training or support are trainees given at the school?

In addition to the training and support provided by the ITT provider, all trainees work with an approved mentor in the school. These mentors tend to be senior leaders or experienced middle leaders. The school requires weekly meetings between trainees and mentors, and trainees are expected to develop the agenda and minutes for these meetings to ensure they are always relevant. Trainees also develop a relationship with the teacher they are working with.

“We make the classroom that the trainee is based in available for weekly observations. We also encourage them to observe other classes. People here are really open to that – they are generally quite happy for people to wander in and park at the back of the class.”

What benefit does involvement with ITT bring to the school?

A significant benefit is being able to develop your staff and wider community.

“Our philosophy for professional development is the same as it is in the classroom. You’re trying to develop people so that they don’t need you anymore. The bad news is [with TAs] that we train them up to go work in other schools, but they continue to grow and develop as professionals. It’s the same investment as with the children – we’re forever preparing them to go be even more successful somewhere else.”

Involvement with ITT grows the wider teacher workforce and supports the school’s own recruitment and staffing.

“It promotes our desire to be a centre for lifelong learning. We have high expectations for our staff to regularly participate in professional development activities; we are very active with COBIS. We also have similar expectations for parents. When we offer parent workshops on topics such as curriculum, e-safety or safeguarding training, we hope our parents will take full advantage of this. We aim to develop the school community as a whole.”

Are there any plans to expand ITT provision?

The school itself is expanding, taking on an additional 150 students this academic year. As the school grows, so will its capacity to take on trainee teachers. To date, the trainees have always come from within their wider school community, but the school would not necessarily be averse to approaches from other prospective teachers, depending on capacity.

British School of Bucharest is a COBIS Training School. COBIS Training School status is a kitemark that demonstrates the breadth and quality of a school’s commitment to professional development, including Initial Teacher Training (ITT), career progression routes and whole school workforce development.

For more information about Initial Teacher Training opportunities in international schools, please visit the ITT page of the COBIS website here.