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Dean’s Experience

My sole interests during sixth form were sports and PE and I did not know what I wanted to do in the future, so I went to the University of Bedfordshire and gained a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. During my time at university I took part in a programme called Camp America, which provided me with the opportunity to work in a sports camp in Wisconsin for 3 months. This drove me to want to become a PE teacher and assisted me in achieving that goal.

Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful on a number of university PGCE interviews (due to a lack of classroom experience) which meant that I had to take an alternative route which included several professions such as: building labourer, carpenter and bar manager at a local wedding venue. However, I remained undeterred from my goal and across three years accumulated a wealth of experience in a number of local schools.

Luckily a PE teacher approached me and informed me that a programme called the GUTP, that was a long-established ITT provider, was planning to run a PE course for the first time the following year. I applied and was invited to interview. It snowed on the day of my interview and thankfully I didn’t have to teach Hockey as my task! However, they liked my answers and valued my experience – so I was offered a place on the course.  

Starting the course in September 2013, excited and nervous, I soon began to thoroughly enjoy the process. Being trained in generic teaching practice at the GUTP centre two days a week and getting on the job experience at Moulton School where I shared an excellent relationship with my mentor (which continues today), I felt I had started to conquer the nerves and master the organisation required for this course. I also enjoyed meeting back at the GUTP centre with other trainees to share experiences; everyone at the GUTP were as welcoming and supportive as they were on day one. 

After the rigorous pace of switching between two host schools, writing Masters Level assignments and copious amounts of lesson planning, I gained Qualified Teacher Status. I was then lucky enough to be offered a job at my second placement school, Guilsborough Academy. Subsequently I have passed my NQT year and am starting to build on my responsibility and career here, whilst enjoying every minute. I have taken on responsibility for ICT within the PE department, and after gaining experience to continue my career along the pastoral route I was appointed assistant head of year commencing in September 2016.   

I can’t thank all the people at GUTP enough for their contribution to getting me the career I wanted and would recommend it to anyone wanting to train to become a teacher.

Mr D Mills
P.E Teacher

Michelle’s Experience

After making a bold decision to leave the corporate world of events and go backpacking for a few years, I returned to the UK feeling ready for a new career. I began to research the possibility of retraining as a primary teacher and was surprised to find a variety of training opportunities available. I was very specific about the type of course I wanted and having researched the many options available, it quickly became clear to me that the GUTP offered what I needed.

In my mid-thirties by the time I came to train, I didn’t want to relive my days at university. I wanted to be in the classroom from day one and develop my skills through doing the job. My mentor supported me every step of the way.

As the weeks went by, my independence grew and her input reduced, allowing me to reflect and improve as part of the training process. My host schools gave me a variety of experiences that couldn’t have been achieved in just one school.

Being part of the first primary cohort, in 2014-15 I felt that the small number of trainees gave us all a much more personalised experience. The GUTP were very flexible; I had the freedom to feedback after all training courses and ask for specific training when knowledge gaps materialised.  The staff were always friendly and approachable and always ready to act on any feedback provided.

The PGCE is demanding but the training environment allowed our cohort to really bond and support each other through a really challenging year. At the GUTP I was not just another trainee - I was Michelle. The intimate approach really worked for me and I thrived because of it.

Mrs M Batchelor
Primary Teacher  

Nathan’s Experience

At secondary school I had the privilege of being taught English by an inspirational teacher. Despite the school having some problems (and failing their Ofsted at the time!) I was so impressed by how much this teacher managed to engage and enthuse us about his subject. His passion was clear and he told us that he loved his job. It was from that early stage that I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

This led me to study English Literature and History at the University of Northampton, where I obtained my Joint & Combined Honours degree, majoring in English Literature.

Initially, I was planning to try and remain at the University of Northampton to complete my PGCE but then I came across an advert from the GUTP in a local newspaper. I applied and was invited to interview. I really enjoyed the task that was set for the interview and was able to have a good discussion about the course and it’s benefits without the ‘hard sell.’ Key for me was the amount of time the course gives you in the Partnership Schools right from the start. A rigorous training program of general and subject-specific sessions back this up. I was also very keen that my course choice would award PGCE status, which the GUTP does.

Even more enticing for future trainees is that from September 2013 the course will also be awarding M Level credits, meaning that it could count towards a Masters degree in the future.

The GUTP course is not easy, there is a lot of work to get through in that training year and it can be very tiring. However, by the end of the course you feel fully prepared for your first teaching post. For a large percentage of trainees, that will be in one of the Partnership Schools where they may already know some of the staff, systems and pupils in that school – thereby giving them an excellent start to their NQT year.

This was the experience I had, and I still currently work at Sponne School, which was my Host School when I completed the GUTP in the 2008-09 academic year. I have since had the privilege to be an English Mentor, supporting trainees in their completion of the course and delivering subject specific training myself. From September 2013, I undertook the post of Deputy Director and I am really enjoying observing the progress that our trainees make in becoming excellent practioners, teachers who themselves will inspire and enthuse young people about their subject.

Mark’s Experience

In 2010, I graduated from The University of Birmingham with a BA in Modern Languages. I had always wanted to teach, but was keen to leave education for a while and try something different. I therefore got a job working in executive recruitment and spent a year doing this. Then in August 2011, walking along Blackpool beach, I decided it was time to start looking into teacher training. I came across GUTP whose website looked very professional. They were also local - something that was key for me. So I got in touch and my timing couldn't have been more perfect! I was interviewed on Friday, and within two weeks I was a trainee teacher!

I had a very successful year at GUTP. They helped me to realise that teaching is a tough but very rewarding career and most definitely the career for me. I found the training was personalised, and the balance between seminar based training and actually being in the classroom was perfect. I was never encouraged to stick to a text book – quite the opposite. Innovation and creativity are encouraged in the classroom. Regular feedback on my lessons and structured meetings with my own mentor helped me to identify areas for improvement in my practice and mentors were always happy to suggest ways in which I could improve.  

In addition to this, one thing I loved about GUTP was the constant support you get from staff and fellow trainees. The directors and staff at the training centre couldn't be more supportive in making sure you know what you’re doing. Working so closely with other trainees both in your own subject as well as other areas means you can help each other through the standards and, most importantly, a shoulder to cry on is never too far away on those rare but inevitable occasions when your lesson doesn't go quite as planned!  

I undertook my main teaching placement at Campion School in Bugbrooke where, before the end of my course, I’m happy to say I was offered a full-time teaching post for the following September and I have been teaching French and Japanese there ever since. This term I even managed to secure a promotion to Assistant Director of Student Learning and Progress

My NQT year has been a phenomenal one during which my teaching has continued to go from strength to strength and more importantly there have been no nasty surprises - testament I think to the high quality training and preparation for a career in teaching that I received during my time with the Grand Union Training Partnership.

At the end of his NQT year Mark was nominated for and won the Pearson Teaching Award 2013 for Excellence in Teaching.

Rebecca's Experience

Prior to joining the GUTP course I had a variety of jobs including roles with the Royal Navy, Royal Mail, the BBC and Siemens, specialising in management, internal communications, marketing and PR. I have a BSc (Hons) degree in Meteorology and Oceanography from the University of Plymouths (predominantly maths and physics based).

Whilst on maternity leave from Siemens, I was offered and took voluntary redundancy. After my son was born I met a teacher at my local ‘mums and tots’ group and mentioned that I had always wanted to be a teacher and had missed my opportunity. She informed me that there were many paths to becoming a teacher and told me to go to the TDA website to check it out. This I did and I found a few possible options in my area. I also emailed the head teacher at Sponne School as my neighbour told me they offered a training programme. The response led me to the GUTP, and the rest is history!

Teaching was something I’d always wanted to do but felt I had missed the opportunity and was reluctant to go back to the beginning and start again. A SCITT programme appealed most to me as I thought ‘being thrown in at the deep end’ would be the best way to learn and get live experience of teaching.

I did consider another programme but chose the GUTP for several reasons:

  • The course is small and intimate and has resulted in some great teamwork and camaraderie which would not have been so easily achieved on a larger, University lead PGCE course
  • The GUTP course awards PGCE status whereas GTP courses only allow you to qualify for QTS
  • As I live locally, the proximity of the partnership school also appealed to me. I did my first practice at the farthest school but it was still a very ‘doable’ commute

The GUTP has been a really enjoyable course. The partnership schools I have been involved with have all been most supportive and I was pleasantly surprised to be in a position to actually teach a ‘real’ class so early on!! It has been hard work and I have had to be ultra-organised, especially with a small child at home, but it has definitely been worth it and I’m really looking forward to taking up my first teaching role this summer.

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Contact Information

The Grand Union Teacher Training Partnership

c/o Sponne School

Brackley Road



NN12 6DJ

Tel: 01327 350284 ext 7253