Heart TSA Trainees Join Astronaut On A Mission During Lockdown!


What does any good teacher do when they suffer a setback? Adapt and make the absolute best of it of course! Which is why lockdown has seen trainee teachers at Heart TSA working with the astronaut and explorer Richard Garriott on his latest mission to the bottom of the ocean!

There is no denying that the effects of Covid 19 have had a huge effect on trainee teachers on the Heart TSA school led teacher training course this year. Instead of getting stuck into their final placement they have been forced to stay at home at lockdown. However, one of the most important attributes of a great teacher is resilience and the ability to adapt to whatever is thrown at you, and with this in mind Heart TSA have been busy embracing online learning by making this as beneficial, relevant and interesting as possible for the beginning teachers.

As well as the usual tutorial and lecture sessions going online, Director of Teaching School, Bernie Furey, has arranged a varied programme of Zoom sessions with a range of experts including Dr Helen Mason from NASA/Cambridge University and Dr Helen Schell from Space UK who followed on from the Earth, Moon and Mars creative science week project that the trainees began before schools closed.

It was this meeting that led to the trainees becoming involved in the Challenger Deep mission with US astronaut and explorer Richard Garriott. Trainees took part in a Zoom session with Richard and are now in a WhatsApp group with him as they follow and work with him on his quest! Richard is preparing to set a record as the first human to visit the deepest ocean depths after having orbited Earth in the space station and venturing to both poles. He will ride in a submarine made of titanium to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in a long, dark dive to the deepest known point on Earth, Challenger Deep, located nearly seven miles below the ocean surface. This will put him in a very exclusive club joining retired NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan as one of only two people to have orbited the Earth and reached the deepest ocean depth. In addition to recently visiting both the North Pole and South Pole, Richard lived and worked in the Earth’s orbit aboard the International Space Station in 2008.  He has explored all seven continents and taken several deep sea dives to targets such as the Titanic. And is now inspiring a generation of teachers that will go on to inspire the next generation of explorers!

Heart TSA trainee teacher Georgia said: “I cannot describe how fortunate I am to have just experienced a Zoom call with an astronaut! There is no PGCE like ours!” Fellow trainee Rachel said: “This period of time on lockdown could have simply just been us doing courses online but Bernie has organised so many fabulous people for us to virtually meet and learn from in online meetings. It has been fantastic!” And trainee Robyn added: “I’m seeing a lot of PGCE courses wrapping up early whilst our schedule is jam-packed with zooms with Educational Big Dogs (a technical term!) and I feel so lucky! Our mentor cares not just about us passing the course but about us being the best teachers we can be.”

Other sessions the Heart TSA trainee teachers have taken part in include teaching creative thinking with Bill Lucas, learning thought-leader and co-creator of Expansive Education Network, poetry with poet playright Louise Wallwein MBE, computational thinking with Jon Chippindall aka Dr Chips, a session with the Octagon Theatre, human rights with Sughra Ahmed from the RFK Human Rights Foundation, The Big Science Share with Lynne Bianchi, Primary Science and Engineering Education Researcher and Innovator, developing professional profiles for new teachers with Helen Woodward, Zen Educate consultant and coach, and Design Technology with Class of Your Own.

Heart TSA, based at Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Westhoughton, is a leading provider of school led primary teacher training in Bolton, Wigan and further Greater Manchester with placement schools all around the region. It prides itself on being a very unique and forward thinking provider in finding new and creative ways of teaching all subjects and topics to children. The course involves many trips and visits and links with industry professionals, and trainees are encouraged to explore new technologies that shape the future of teaching in order to engage children and fill them with enthusiasm for learning.

Heart TSA are still recruiting trainee teachers to start in September so if you think you would make a great teacher you can apply now. You don’t need to leave the house as applications are via UCAS and interviews are online. If you would like any more information on teacher training at Heart TSA email TeachingSchool@sacred-heart.bolton.sch.uk

Top Tips to Impress in a Skype Interview for Teacher Training


Read current trainee Rachel’s top tips for a Skype interview based on her recent experience. And in case you were wondering – she got the job 🙂

• Treat it like you would do any interview. It’s the same as it would have been in person, you’re just not in the same room!
• Dress the part. They can still see you! I even had the shoes on that I would have worn if I was there in person. That was to feel like I was at a normal interview so I could be in the right head space for it.
• Practise on Skype. I downloaded Skype a couple of days before, however, when I joined the meeting it started downloading something else that I didn’t have, which was the business version of Skype. So, get that beforehand. Luckily it only took about 30 seconds, but I would advise having that set up just in case. My Mum called me a couple of times in the run up to the interview so I could get used to talking on it. As you’re not going to be in the same room as them, they won’t be able to see some of the body language that they would normally go off and feel, so you need to make sure they are still seeing the real you. Getting used to talking on a screen helps.
• Check what will be on the screen behind you. You don’t want them looking at a messy room! There is a setting under the camera/audio option where you can test that. I even hoovered…..not that they could see, but it made me feel better!
• If you have pets, make sure they aren’t in the room with you! You don’t want your cat walking across the screen halfway through…….
• The same goes for any humans! Remember that famous interview where the child comes bursting into the room?! Make sure there are no distractions so you can fully concentrate.
• If you look online for tips, one of the things they say is that you could have notes to look at. That’s up to you, but would you find that distracting? Will they notice if your eyes keep going off to one side and you look like you’re reading? You need to be natural and not sound like you’re reading off a script. You wouldn’t have that in an interview anyway. I did have a “You can do this” note to keep me positive! I found I was concentrating too much on what they were asking to look anywhere else around my room anyway.
• It is a strange feeling not being in the same room, but they know that this isn’t what everyone would prefer. They reassured me about the technology side of it saying that if anything was hard to hear, then just make sure I ask them to repeat anything. So, don’t be scared to say you can’t hear if it’s not working. Don’t just guess at what you thought they said. The quality of the call wasn’t as clear as the one I had practised but I could hear everything ok.
• One of the tips I had read was to look into the camera and not look at yourself or them on the screen. That felt unnatural to me though and was putting me off, so I looked at them as I would do in person. Definitely don’t look at yourself though because you’ll probably start thinking “do I really look like that when I talk?!” and then you’ll forget what you’re saying!
• Get yourself settled beforehand so you are ready. You don’t want to be out of breath because you’ve just run up the stairs at the last minute. Have a glass of water to the side. Make sure it’s not in a silly cup!
• The main thing is like I said at the beginning, to treat this like you would any interview. Be professional and be prepared. Most importantly, be yourself.

Heart TSA Beginning Teachers Learn From Outstanding New Teacher of the Year


One of the wonderful things for trainee teachers undertaking their training with Heart TSA is that you are surrounded by Outstanding teaching practitioners, who our beginning teachers are able to learn from and absorb so much from.

One of these is Year 5 teacher Connor Goulding – officially one of the most Outstanding teachers in the UK! Connor was awarded Gold in the Pearson National Teaching Awards in the Outstanding New Teacher of the Year category, sponsored by the DfE. As a new teacher it wasn’t too long ago that Connor completed his training year and so who could be better for our trainees to get tips and advice from!

Connor was presented with his award at a prestigious ceremony in London, which was broadcast on BBC2 on October 26th as “Britain’s Classroom Heroes”. He was recognised as an exceptionally able teacher who takes time to research best practice to make sure his teaching is consistently excellent, organisers said.

Outside of his teaching duties, Connor has excelled as the school’s computing lead, creating a robot zoo, coding and building an award-winning marble run linked to the town’s history, and training more experienced staff on the best ways of integrating technology into their teaching.

Huge congratulations go to Connor for such a great achievement and we are delighted to have him as part of the team at Sacred Heart, and that he can pass on his knowledge and enthusiasm to our beginning teachers.

New Year New Career


The New Year is a time when we all reflect on our lives and ask if we are really doing what we are meant to be. If achieving your goal of training to be a teacher is top of your new year list again, make sure this is the year you tick it off! Come along to the Heart TSA information event on Tuesday 12th January from 6-8pm to find out how we can help you on your journey.

Attendees will be able to find out more about the programme we run, entry requirements and next steps, as well as hearing from current trainees and picking up application and interview tips. We’ll explain all about funding your course and show you options you may not have known were available to you. You’ll be able to ask us all the questions that have been building up in your mind over the years, tell us about the barriers that have been stopping you doing it sooner, and we’ll show you how they can be overcome.

The Heart TSA School Direct programme offers those looking to become fully qualified teachers a one year route to achieving accreditation (QTS with PGCE), with a course that pairs the most up to date theoretical training with tailored teaching placements across a network of partner schools, in partnership with the University of Cumbria. On a school led teacher training route, trainees spend the majority of their time in schools, learning on the job, and are taught by tutors and mentors with current and relevant classroom experience. By immersing trainees in schools they are able to gain valuable real-world experience and learn the very best current teaching methods. This in turn allows them to develop into better teachers who can provide more rounded and complete classes for their students. You need to have a degree to start the course but it doesn’t matter how long ago your degree was or what you have done in between.

Now is the time, you CAN do it, train to teach and #inspireageneration!

To register for the event email TeachingSchool@sacred-heart.bolton.sch.uk or call 01942 634681.

Heart Beginning Teachers Complete Successful First Term


Congratulations to the Heart TSA Beginning Teachers who have successfully completed their first term in their schools.All trainees have shown passion and enthusiasm throughout and have worked so hard and learnt so much.

There is a lot to take in in the first term as trainees are immersed in school life – getting to grips with how everything works and learning techniques that are completely new to them. Having such strong support from their mentors and fellow trainees around them is key to success, and something that Heart TSA prides itself on.

As well as getting to know their classes, highlights of the term have included a visit to The Sharp Project to gain innovative ideas on how to teach children with jobs of the future in mind, and a visit to Abraham Moss High School to develop skills and strategies to use with EAL pupils. At Heart TSA we put great emphasis on these added extras to give our teachers as broad a range of skills as possible. Trainee Robyn said: “The training from the EAL specialists at Abraham Moss was amazing – we learned practical techniques and activities that were easy to resource, magpie and differentiate for all children to develop language. It was one of the most useful training sessions we have had, and to see the school’s inclusion centre, provisions for children with autism and the accessibility for children with severe physical needs (the school is a no-barrier school) was incredible.” Sessions have also been held at the Whitworth Art Gallery, the People’s History Museum and the Football Museum.

It’s certainly been a term of firsts – first classroom display, first time teaching a full class, first time dealing with behaviour, first school disco, the list goes on. The beginning teachers have also loved taking part in their first school trips – the Mayors Christmas concert, a visit to Father Christmas on a steam train and a Christmas panto. Not forgetting the team Christmas do and trip to the Christmas Markets!

Throughout the course we continually reflect on our practice and at Heart we do this in a fun and creative way of course – this term our beginning teachers used Sellotape sculptures and visual minutes to illustrate the progress so far on their teaching journeys.

A massive well done to everyone for your hard work – one term down – two to go!