HEADTEACHERS from the Foundation Teaching School Alliance (FTSA) – a cluster of 15 Alton primary schools – gathered at St Mary’s School in Bentworth to celebrate the official launch of Alton’s first ever initial teacher training programme.

They were joined by East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds, who heard how a long track record of working collaboratively for the benefit of pupils and their families made the design and delivery of this teacher training initiative a “very natural and exciting next step” in the history of the Alliance.

Speaking on behalf of the cluster schools, Bentworth headteacher Jo Ayres said: “Teaching is a fantastic vocation giving real meaning to work and true fulfilment in lives. This course can offer people the opportunity to train locally.

“All the Alton schools are available for support and for training, giving the students the most supportive and dynamic course.

“Recruitment and retention to the profession and the high cost of living are the most powerful factors making it tough to recruit. But Alton is very clear – we want the best teachers for our children and we know how to train them.”

And she added: “We build strong foundations for life, and we place great emphasis on a collaborative approach, inclusion, and emotional well-being and resilience for children, their families, our community and all our staff.”

As such, the FTSA is looking for professionals who have a passion for making a difference for children and who will be excited to be working with them and their families.

Commenting on the initiative, Paul Edwards, deputy principal of Alton College, said that he was “delighted to support such an exciting venture”.

“As a growing number of families with young children move to East Hampshire year on year, enhancing the delivery of education and developing teachers at primary level is important. With the combined enthusiasm and commitment of 15 primary schools the scheme looks set for success.”

One teacher, who trained in the area and had her NQT year in one of the Alton schools, said of her training experience in the area: “My first year in teaching was full of wonderful new experiences and a lot of hard work. I truly love my job and couldn’t think of a more inspiring, rewarding and amazing profession to be a part of. It has been wonderful to be part of the Alton cluster of schools which allows collaboration with other teachers and schools in the area. This provides me with the opportunity to exchange ideas with other teachers and learn from each other.

“I am looking forward to continuing to develop my skills fully and seeing what the future brings. I feel it is a privilege to be in the teaching profession.”

Impressed to hear about the Alton schools’ powerful collaboration and about the proactive approach the FTSA has taken, M Hinds, the minister of employment at the Department of Work and Pensions, said: “Teaching is such a noble profession, one of the most important jobs in the world.

“In Alton and the surrounding villages, we are fortunate to have excellent schools with outstanding leadership.

“Training to teach in one of them could be a very rewarding experience for many people, whether as a first role, or a career change, or to return to work after time out. I do hope many will give consideration to this opportunity, and register their interest to find out more.”

Potential students can apply via UCAS and contact Foundations Teaching School at [email protected]ol or call Clare Allen on 01420 87675.