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When I was considering my options for teacher training, there were several things to consider.

Firstly, dare I say it, I am a lady of a certain age (in fact I celebrated a milestone birthday during my training!) so I felt that my university days were well behind me. Secondly, my university boyfriend had actually become my husband, and now we had a mortgage and two young daughters to think of. Finally, I had been a TA for a while and was very happy at my school, but unfortunately a salaried or employment-based route was no longer available locally.

Enter, then, the part-time tuition fee course. The programme I chose at Oxfordshire Teacher Training was brilliant, as I could obtain QTS in four terms instead of three, stay at my current school for a full year and move to my alternate placement for the final term of the course, finishing in December of the second year and then ready to teach in the January. By training three days per week, I could also keep my TA role and keep some money coming in.

Training part-time is not for the faint of heart and deserves careful consideration as a certain amount of juggling is definitely needed. By the end of the first half-term I had actually moved to an alternative placement because as it turns out, unsurprisingly, that being a parent, TA and Associate Teacher all in one school is…well, a bit too much on one plate. Thankfully, my SCITT provider supported the change and found me another great school to train in.

On my programme we had three days a week allocated to training, split into one day of curriculum and subject sessions and two days in placement schools. This can be challenging – by the time your teaching days come round the children are sometimes flagging, and it can be hard to teach sequences of work as you are not there for most of the week.

Therefore, to succeed as a part-time Associate Teacher you need flexibility, initiative and resilience; not to mention the stamina it takes to keep going into year 2, after your full-time friends have qualified and are into their ECT roles. Part-time is by no means the easy option.

However, as I sit and reflect on my two years, from initial application to being awarded QTS, there are lots of good things about the part-time route. I am endlessly grateful for the support and camaraderie of my fellow Associate Teachers without whom the course would have been much more difficult. The lengthier placements meant that I was still able to build great relationships with my classes – both mentors told me that children were usually very sad when it wasn’t ‘a Mrs Farnsworth day’ – as well as getting to know colleagues and feeling very much part of the school. More practically, I didn’t need childcare on the days I wasn’t training and still continued to work as a TA on those two days, which made it all more financially viable.

There is an obvious question around being able to find a job easily when you don’t qualify until December, and it was something I was initially concerned about. Would I be always going for the same roles as my friends? Would there even be any jobs around? Would schools look down on my training part-time and think that I couldn’t handle a full-time position? To take those in order: 1) it only happened once and actually neither of us got that job. 2) There were plenty of vacancies available; and in the end all of us on the part-time route had secured a job by the time the course had finished. 3) Completely unfounded; the three schools I applied to were very positive about my training route.

Having juggled part-time training, working and parenting and come out intact shows better than anything else that I can handle whatever school-life throws at me. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that of all the teachers who could start a teaching position mid-year, those who have trained part-time are ideally placed to do so.

Rachael Farnsworth attended the part-time primary teacher training programme at Oxfordshire Teacher Training SCITT from September 2021-December 2022.



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