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Secretary of State for Education Commends SFET's Excellence in Initial Teacher Training

South Farnham Educational Trust (SFET) was honoured to host the distinguished visit of the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, on 1st February 2024.

The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan's visit preceded the Secretary of State’s formal announcement of the new Teacher Degree Apprenticeship (TDA) – an exciting employment route to Qualified Teacher Status combining school-based training and a university-led degree. Other distinguished guests included The Rt Hon Dame Maria Miller, Member of Parliament for Basingstoke, and Jennifer Coupland, CEO at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

South Farnham Educational Trust are the chairs of the Trailblazer Group responsible for developing the new undergraduate Teacher Degree Apprenticeship as well as the highly successful Postgraduate Teacher Apprenticeship.

The visit took place at the Trust’s lead secondary school, Brighton Hill Community School in Basingstoke, where SFET is expanding its outstanding initial teacher training provision for primary and secondary trainees across the region through the highly successful South Farnham SCITT. With a strong emphasis on teacher training and development, South Farnham SCITT is a leading institution, both locally and nationally, with an unwavering commitment to maintaining the highest standards of training, continuous improvement and the delivery of impactful and relevant education practices. This follows South Farnham SCITT’s recent Ofsted inspection, where it was graded outstanding in all areas for the second time, affirming its position as a leader in providing exceptional primary and secondary teacher training programmes.

The Secretary of State, Gillian Keegan, had conversations with teachers and school leaders about the importance of teacher recruitment and the benefits of the TDA. She spoke enthusiastically with current postgraduate apprentice teachers as well as to teaching assistants interested in pursuing the new Teacher Degree Apprenticeship.

During the visit, Gillian Keegan, toured the school, engaging with students and staff members. She was especially interested in observing maths lessons and talking to Brighton Hill’s newly recruited apprentice maths teacher. We are also delighted by the announcement on Sunday 4th February of the TDA funding pilot in secondary mathematics which will support participating schools with trainee salary costs.

CEO, Sir Andrew Carter, said “At South Farnham SCITT, we always strive to create an enriching and supportive environment that enables aspiring teachers to reach their full potential; to thrive, not just survive. Our relentless pursuit of excellence ensures that our trainee teachers are equipped with the latest teaching methods, techniques, and tools and are well-prepared to excel in today's dynamic and diverse educational landscape. We are delighted that the Secretary of State for Education has chosen to visit us to see this in practice.”

The visit from the Secretary of State for Education highlighted Brighton Hill Community School's role as a leading institution in shaping the future of teacher training and was a testament to South Farham Educational Trust’s 20-year commitment to ITT.

Chris Edwards, the proud Headteacher of Brighton Hill Community School, expressed gratitude for the Secretary's visit. “We are honoured to have had the Secretary of State for Education visit our school and witness first-hand our commitment to providing quality education and fostering a positive learning environment for every student. It is vital every school is involved in growing its own teachers who will then make a meaningful difference to the lives of the students they educate for many years.”

The Secretary of State's insights and observations will undoubtedly contribute to the ongoing dialogue on improving teacher training and education across the country.