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Continuing Professional Development > Your Work > Case Studies
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Case Studies
Learning from the NQT year
NQT Year Testimonial

 Case Studies

Leadership and management in schools is becoming increasingly important, and ensuring that teachers have the right professional support to enable them to meet these challenges is vital.

Ten staff from Silverdale School in Sheffield are currently part way through the Certificate in Leadership and Management with Sheffield Hallam University and Deputy Head Mike
Pollard believes their involvement will pay dividends, not only for each individual but for the school as a whole.

‘We had a number of staff who had recently been promoted into middle management positions and we wanted to support them in their new roles.

‘Everyone has completed their first module, and they are now starting the second module which is a school evaluation project. We’re working closely with the group and with the teaching staff at Hallam to ensure that the work they’re doing is in line with our School
Improvement Plan, so the whole school will benefit from the work they undertake.

‘Our experience of the programme so far is extremely positive – the quality of the programme delivery is excellent and all the staff find it stimulating and thought provoking. Being on the programme also encourages the staff to work together and we’re confident it will bring real benefits to everyone involved.’

Sinead Fox and five of her colleagues from Abbey Lane Primary School in Sheffield are currently studying with Sheffield Hallam University through the Teacher Learning Academy – completing a series of learning projects which will contribute to a Masters level qualification.

The greatest attraction for Sinead of this type of study is that it allows her to work on real-life issues she faces at school and to work towards a higher level qualification without having to attend the University.

‘This is an ideal approach for busy teachers,’ she said. ‘Not only can we do the work at a time and place to suit us, but we can also undertake projects which help us to come up with strategies and solutions to challenges we face in the classroom.’

One of Sheffield Hallam’s specialist tutors offers support and supervision to everyone studying with the Teacher Learning Academy, visiting each group four or five times for each project.

‘Undertaking this course has made a huge impact already, both on us as individuals and on the whole school,’ said Sinead. ‘The fact that there are six of us involved has given us the chance to share ideas about what we’re studying and what we’re doing in the classroom, and it’s had a really positive impact on teaching and learning in the school.’
In spite of a busy job teaching 8 and 9 year olds, teacher Robert Hobson has already completed the first two years of his Masters in Education and is just about to embark on his dissertation.

‘I’d always been interested in doing some further studies, but wanted to wait until I’d gained some practical experience in the classroom,’ he said. ‘After five years of teaching, I felt I was ready to go further, and I signed up for the course at Sheffield Hallam because it offered a range of modules that interested me, alongside a flexible approach to learning which I felt could fit around my other responsibilities.’

‘Studying at postgraduate level is quite different to a first degree. You need to be able to study independently, but there’s plenty of support available when you need it. The most recent module I took meant I had to attend quite a few tutorials, but these were on a Saturday morning which was ideal.’ Since starting the course, Robert has also got a new job and he feels that his studies definitely helped him impress his new employers.

‘When I went for the interview, they were very interested in the fact that I was studying for a Masters and they have been very supportive in agreeing to let me carry on with my research in my own class.

‘I feel doing the course has really improved the way I teach and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to develop and improve their professional practice. It’s been really enjoyable and has given me the opportunity to meet and share ideas with other professionals. I haven’t found it too difficult to cope with the combination of work and studying because of the way the course is organised and delivered.’
Although Julia Newton already combines teaching a Y2 class with a range of other responsibilities in school and outside, she still manages to find time for continuous
professional development.

When Julia heard about Professional Learning in the Workplace (PLW), it seemed like an ideal opportunity to further develop her own professional skills working towards a Masters qualification at the same time as undertaking research projects which would be of benefit to her pupils and the school as well.

‘Our school has been through a great deal of change over recent years, including changes in management, a move to a brand new building and, shortly after that, an OFSTED inspection. Reading was identified by OFSTED as an area for improvement, so it was an important part of our School Improvement Plan and became the focus of the TLA projects for those of us who took part.

‘Last year I completed my first TLA project – trialling a visual/conceptual (Picture Me Reading) approach to learning sight vocabulary with a group of Year 1 children with learning difficulties - which gave me my first 30 credits towards a Masters degree. I have now embarked on my next course of study with the TLA and this time I am working on the best ways to implement this approach into the Foundation 2 and Key Stage 1 curriculum.

‘The course has been really beneficial, particularly because I have been studying alongside school colleagues. We found that doing our research generated more professional dialogue both formally in meetings and informally between ourselves and colleagues in other schools and settings. Another benefit is that much of the work can be done at your own pace, and the support we got from the tutor was brilliant.

‘I’d definitely recommend this course to others. If you get the opportunity, choose an aspect of life in school that you’re particularly interested in and do your project on that. Then, if you enjoy it, you can carry on. I found that the more research I did, the more enthusiastic I became and I’ve learned a lot about a whole new area which I’m now wanting to continue with and which will hopefully be useful to the school as a whole and maybe to others.’
Law lecturer Carol Edwards had always wanted to do a Masters degree and when she moved to a slightly less stressful job, she felt it was time she made a start. ‘For the first time, I felt I might be able to fit studying part-time around my work commitments and the Sheffield Hallam course was a particularly attractive option because much of the teaching is delivered on a Saturday.’

Even though Carol has continued to study throughout her career, she was slightly concerned about making the commitment to do a Masters, but she has found it thoroughly enjoyable.

‘It has been demanding but I have found it very stimulating and useful. I have updated many things in my practice and I have really gained in confidence. One of the best things is that you can use your work environment as the basis for many of the assignments, so it’s really geared up around the workplace and you benefit from lots of different perspectives as people bring their own experiences into the discussions.

‘There’s a lot of support both from other people on the course and from the tutors. They’re always available to advise you by phone or e-mail, which is excellent, and as a group we use the discussion board a lot to bounce ideas around.
As NVQ Centre Manager for the Personal Hygiene Services Group, Ron McBean is responsible for supporting the training and development needs in relation to vocational qualifications of the company’s 3,200 staff, based throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

As someone who has progressed his own career through the NVQ route – starting off as a delivery driver, then moving into occupational training before taking on his current role – Ron is well aware of the importance of continuous professional development.

‘I had already done a Certificate in Education studying part-time but I wanted to go further, so the BA(Hons) Education and Training (now PCET) at Sheffield Hallam seemed ideal. Although I had a lot of practical experience, I still felt it was important to continue my personal and professional development, and my employers were very supportive.'

‘It was a challenge to fit the study in around work, but the flexibility of the course, with tutorials at weekends, and the support of the staff at Sheffield Hallam made it possible.'

‘I enjoyed all the course, but the thing that really stood out for me was being able to develop my understanding of how and why people learn. I have a much greater awareness of the wide variety of reasons and motivations for learning – and that has had a real impact on the way I approach my work.’

‘If anyone was considering doing this course, I’d say it’s well worth it. I’m really pleased with it and it has already made me really question how I do things.’
Colleagues Tara Kerry and Padraigh Mcdonnell are studying with Sheffield Hallam University for their Masters in Leadership and Management in Education – in spite of the fact that they both live and work in Ireland.

‘We both work in the training department of Failte Ireland, the Irish Tourist Board,’ said Tara, ‘and as part of our own progression, we wanted to do some continuous professional development. We looked at lots of courses in Ireland but none seemed suitable.’

‘What attracted us to the Sheffield Hallam course was that it was module-based and the input from teaching staff was at the weekends, so it was absolutely ideal.’

Tara and Padraigh are close to completing their course and it has lived up to all their expectations.

‘The work we’ve done has definitely affected the way we do our jobs,’ said Padraigh. ‘The change management element in particular has helped us through a big change in our own organisation when two separate bodies amalgamated. I’ve also been promoted and I really believe that without the course, I wouldn’t have got the new job.’

Both agree they’ll miss the course when it’s over. ‘We’ve made really good links with others on the course and we also find the time we spend travelling back gives us a great opportunity to discuss what we’ve learned each time,’ said Tara. ‘It’s also been remarkably easy to fit around the demands of work, as all the assignments have been directly related to our own workplace.’

‘What’s really made it has been the camaraderie with other students and the approachability of the lecturers,’ said Padraigh. ‘They always had time on the phone or by e-mail to provide advice and support, and that really made a difference.’
Lecturer Gill Parkes had always wanted to do a degree but combining a busy working life with bringing up her three children meant that time was limited and she wondered whether she would ever fulfil her dream.

However, when she was offered the chance to do her Honours degree in Education and Training at Sheffield Hallam University, supported by her employers Rotherham College of Arts and Technology, she jumped at the chance.

‘Like many people with families and jobs, finding time to study was always going to be a challenge, but when my employers said they would sponsor me to go on the course, I felt it was now or never!

Gill certainly found finding the time to study tough, but she loved the course and found that the support of other students and staff helped her through the difficult times.

‘There’s no doubt it’s hard work, but I’m really glad I stuck at it and got my degree. I’d encourage anyone to go for it – I learned loads and gained a huge amount of self esteem and confidence.’

Gill’s hard work has already paid off – she has recently got a new job and is now lecturing in the teacher education department at the college.

‘I’d always been interested in teacher education and the confidence I got from doing the degree gave me the self-belief to apply for the new job. It’s a whole new challenge which I’m loving – and I’d never have got there without the degree.’
With more than thirty years experience of working with young children, Sheffield Hallam's Childcare services Manager , Bernadette Ross, was no stranger to the early years environment, but she still wanted to know more.

'I love learning, but felt I needed more focus and direction in my learning, so the Postgraduate Diploma in Early Childhood Studies seemed the ideal course for me. I'm also really, really interested in young children and would have done this course a lot sooner if it had been on offer.'

There's no doubt that combining study with a demanding job can be tough, but for Bernadette, the support and advice she has received from the academic staff has made it possible.
'Coming back into study about 25 years after I completed my first degree has been a real challenge, but the enthusiasm and commitment of the wide range of teaching staff has been superb.'

'There have been loads of benefits to doing the course - in particular, it's made me much more conscious of the vast amount of research that's available to help support and inform what I do at work. If anyone is looking to deepen their understanding of young children, this course is an excellent way to do it - and the knowledge you'll gain will help you in all sorts of different circumstances and challenges.'
23 year-old Xi Fang originally came to Sheffield to study for an MA in Education - and she enjoyed it so much, she is now working towards a PhD.

After completing her first degree in English in China, Xi opted to come to Sheffield Hallam University because of its excellent choice of education courses, its relatively low cost of living, and its ideal location at the centre of the UK. She wanted to develop practical skills for working with children, and her course at Sheffield Hallam University provided the perfect combination of high level academic study and the chance to develop hands-on skills through a placement organised by the University.

'I have thoroughly enjoyed the course,' said Xi, ' and feel I have really developed an in-depth knowledge of education in the early years. This placement within the University's Childcare Services offered me a great chance to back up my academic study with practical experience.

The placement also gave Xi an excellent opportunity to carry out detailed research for both her module on partnerships in education and her dissertation on supporting language development for the under fives.

In the future, Xi hopes to return to China and teach in a university there.

'I have learned an enormous amount about education and early years development and it would be great to share that knowledge and experience with teachers in China. Learning here is more interactive and less formal and it will be fascinating to look at bringing together the best aspects of two very different approaches to education,'
Experienced teacher Joanna Bradford has taught both infant and junior classes - but it's the youngest age group that she really loves and that's why she opted for the Postgraduate Certificate in Early Years Childhood Studies.

'I now teach four and five year-olds at Foundation Stage 2 and 3, although I'd done a bit of early years study when I was doing my original teaching qualifications, I felt that there was a lot more I wanted to learn,' said Joanna.

Seeing a Sheffield Hallam flyer promoting the course was the impetus Joanna needed to find out more about what was on offer, and she had soon signed up to the Certificate, opting to undertake modules on the early years curriculum and partnerships in the early years.

'I have become increasingly fascinated by early years and wanted to find out more about child development - and I also wanted formal recognition, through a higher qualification, of the, of the experience and skills I'd already gained.'

'Juggling home and work commitments is certainly a challenge, but the fact that I was able to use live school projects as the basis for my research not only helped me on the course, but also enabled me to make a real impact at school.'

Joanna has found the Certificate so stimulating that she's already signed up for more study - she has embarked on a General Teaching Council course, also delivered by Sheffield Hallam University , on early years study.

'I think this course has been excellent, both personally and professionally. Obviously, it's important not to underestimate the commitment involved, but it's a great opportunity to meet lots of people and share experience and ideas. It gives you a chance to reflect and adapt your practice, as well as really helping to develop your confidence.'
As Principle Officer - Early Years for Sheffield City Council, Maureen Hemingway is constantly on the lookout for a good range of continuous professional development opportunities for both teachers and non-teaching staff in settings throughout Sheffield.

As part of its commitment to CPD, Sheffield's Children and Young People's Directorate supports a range of training and development opportunities for its workforce.

'In the last year, we have commissioned Sheffield Hallam to deliver modules at Masters level for both teaching and non-teaching staff working at Foundation Stage and this has been very successful. The staff who participated have learned a lot about how young children learn and this has had an important impact in helping us continually improve the quality of provision,' said Maureen.

'We also support a number of staff from our Young Children's Centres in working towards the Early Childhood Studies qualifications. Upskilling the workforce is absolutely essential in helping to provide the best possible learning experience for young children and the support we get from Sheffield Hallam is invaluable.'

Maureen's involvement with Sheffield Hallam is not just as a user of its services - she is also Associate Lecturer on the National Professional Qualification in Integrated Centre Leadership, developed by the national College of School Leadership and delivered by Sheffield Hallam University.
John Rowley works as the additional support co-ordinator at Northern College, Barnsley, looking after the educational and social needs of the College's disabled students who account for around 30 per cent of the total student population.

As well as his professional responsibilities, John has a strong personal interest in inclusion. After twenty years in distribution, he lost his job due increasing visual impairment and went back into education to develop a new career.

'When I lost my job, I realised I needed to retrain and develop new skills so that I could move in a new direction,' said John. 'So, I started off with a counselling course, then did a management course, and then came to Northern College to study for a diploma in Social Science.

'I then started a degree course, but didn't complete that as I had, by that time, got a full-time job in social services. However, I didn't want to give up studying, so the Postgraduate Certificate in Disability Studies at Sheffield Hallam seemed the ideal option as I was really interested in the subject, and the part-time delivery of the course meant I could fit it around work.'

'The course has been great. It's given me a much greater understanding of all disabilities and how society treats disabled people. One of the main themes of the course was encouraging us - and our organisations - to look at the person, not the disability.'

John's employers supported him on the course, allowing him flexibility at work and contributing 50 per cent of the costs. They have since seen the benefits, as the knowledge and skills that John gained from the course have had an impact on the way that he does his job. A recent survey showed tat 86 per cent of disabled students at Northern College felt that the additional support they received was excellent, with the remaining 14 per cent saying it was very good or good.

'The course has helped me focus on looking into disabilities more deeply and I have been able to influence the way we do things here. At the moment, one of my major tasks is helping the College prepare for the impact of Disability Equality Scheme which comes into force in December 2006, and what I learned on the course is proving invaluable. I thoroughly enjoyed studying for the Certificate and I am actively considering going further on the programme.'
Silverdale School's (Sheffield) Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) Lorraine Aspin is on the Leadership and Management programme at Sheffield Hallam University, and she is hoping to be able to undertake some of the new inclusion modules as part of her programme.

'My role as SENCO is essentially threefold. I do quite a lot of teaching, often on a one-to-one or small group basis. I also do a lot of programme planning, ensuring that, as a school, we put in place what individual children need. And finally, I have administrative responsibilities in terms of ensuring that all our paperwork is sorted out. For instance, I need to keep records of pupil assessments and interventions, and of any meetings I've been involved in.'

I registered for the programme because, like many middle managers in teaching, I am only just beginning to see myself as a leader and a manager, and I thought it would help me develop strategies and approaches to really develop into that role.'

'I am impressed with the expansion of the inclusion programme and think that the modules would be of interest to anyone interested in developing their knowledge and awareness, but absolutely essential to anyone who actually works in special needs.'

'It's vital in any job to ensure you keep abreast of all the latest thinking and developments, and the whole area of inclusion is one which experiences ongoing change, both in terms of approaches and legislation, so the opportunity to sign up for some of the inclusion modules will be invaluable.'
'The fact that you will also be able to use real challenges and issues from the workplace as the focus for coursework is also a plus. It's great to be able to apply what your learning on your course to a real life situation.'
Liz Friend is currently studying for the MA in Autism, having successfully completed the Certificate in Understanding Autism and the Postgraduate Certificate in Asperger Syndrome with Sheffield Hallam University.

'My 13 year old son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome just after his eighth birthday and, naturally. I was keen to find out as much as I possibly could about the condition. I bought lots of books and searched on the Internet, but I soon decided that I wanted some kind of structure to what I was learning, which is why I signed up for the original course.'

'That's what got me started and I had no grand academic plans at the time, but I have carried on moving through the programme as I have found it really stimulating and helpful, on both a personal level and a professional level.'
As a policy adviser in Further Education with the Department for Education and Skills, Liz has found her studies have helped her at work, for example, in dealing with any special educational needs issues that crop up, and in responding to ministerial policy and questions.

With three children and a demanding job, flexibility and support is vital to Liz, and she has found our staff very helpful.
'This is a very hands-on course in many ways and I have been able to base assignments around things that I am involved in. For example, I have done some work as a development worker on sex education and I have been able to base an assignment on looking at sexual health issues for parents of children with disability.'

'The tutors are also very supportive, especially when I've had difficult times with my son. They have always shown great understanding and the support and advice I've had from people in the Autism Centre has enabled me to carry on with my studies.'

'It's been great working with the other students too, and to share experiences from both parents' and professionals' perspectives. The course has really given direction to what I was learning through my own independent research, and I have found it thoroughly constructive.'
Much of Ann Ord's Job as a Basic Skills Co-ordinator with Nottinghamshire Council centres on working with young people who are currently neither in employment nor training, and she felt that the Certificate in Disability Studies would really help her in that role.

'Part of my role is overall responsibility for learner support, particularly with both the under 16's and the 16-19 year olds who are on the e2e (entry to employment) scheme. Recently released figures showed that 30 per cent of the latter are self-disclosed disabled, so clearly, understanding and awareness of disability is absolutely vital to my area of work.'

Ann started the course at the beginning of the year and although it is early days, she feels it has already had a significant impact on her work.

'I am finding the course both challenging and absolutely amazing. The group work aspect is particularly important and I always find the discussions we have really stimulating - hearing other people's experiences and ideas is a vital part of how we learn. The support from the tutors is also excellent and they really appreciate the challenges we face in combining study with other commitments at work and at home.'

'Although I've not been on the course long, I already feel I've been able to introduce new ideas and approaches at work, and make a much greater contribution when we're working on policy and procedure. I'm confident that as I continue on the course, it will have a long-term impact on my understanding and ability to influence how we approach disability issues.'
Christine Beaumont, an Advanced Mentor, has worked in her present school, St. Ann’s, for 15 years. She is currently in Year 4 but has spent 5 years as a Specialist Teacher of P.E working with children from Foundation age to Y6. She is interested in PSHE, Healthy Schools and Outdoor Education as well as P.E.

For her advanced assignment Christine focused on mentoring strategies to support an experienced secondary colleague teaching Primary PE.

I embarked on a post graduate programme of study at a relatively late stage in my working life. I wanted to do it because I had been interested in further study since attaining my first degree but the complications of starting a family and a full time job got in the way. The Masters programme at Hallam, with its “pick and mix” system allows students flexibility to choose from a wide menu of modules, with minimal pressure to keep to externally imposed deadlines. I have found that the modules that have proved most challenging to me have been the most rewarding; I believe they have enabled me to grow intellectually and have made me a more reflective practitioner in my own school. Students at Hallam can be independent learners although help is always at hand, on request.

If I were ten or twenty years younger I am positive that a Masters Degree would enhance my career prospects, but in my late fifties I am doing it because I want to!
Janet Bowler attended the Advanced Training, felt refreshed and keen to undertake further study as a result. Both Janet and Christine were tutored by Angie Evans in situ and over the telephone and e mail.

I am a Year 4 teacher at a large Primary School in the North of the city. My responsibilities include being Mentor Coordinator for ITT students and Induction Tutor for NQT’s.

I have a keen interest in student mentoring, and had enjoyed the process of mentoring students for a number of years. Within my school I was fortunate to work with well respected and experienced mentors, who had given me the encouragement to pursue the Advanced Mentoring Programme.

The process was relatively easy to follow, motivating myself to study however, whilst teaching a class a challenge and at times a daunting process! However as we had 9 students and 3 NQT’s in school last year I decided to use the opportunity to research mentoring strategies for the second stage of the Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Development and Training ( now called PG Mentoring).

I found the process strangely addictive, the relevant literature pertinent to my situation and I found my personal knowledge and understanding developed along with the essay. Support from CPD was invaluable when I ‘lost’ my way and helped me to remain focused. The finished essay gave me a great deal of satisfaction and has opened up an avenue of development and learning I thought was long over.

My advice to others, give it a go, support and encouragement is available at the end of a phone!