Flexible teacher training 

HCUK offers an accredited online teacher training course.

Teacher training is something many people consider once they have had children. It’s not just the ability to take holidays at the same time as your children. Many parents develop a real passion for education as they see their children passing through the system.

What tends to stop them taking it any further are the practicalities of teacher training, but an online teacher training course aims to overcome that hurdle.

Hibernia College UK has offered accredited initial teacher training courses online since the end of 2011 in England and its first trainees will be graduating in December. It has a much longer pedigree in Ireland, however, having started offering courses in 1999.

Jeremy Coninx, director of operations UK at HCUK,  says: “In England it’s still relatively new, but in Ireland we dominate the teacher training market and we train around 40% of newly qualified teachers.”

Part of the reason for the success in Ireland was that there was a shortage of teachers and a growing problem of unqualified teachers. This was coupled with a problem of access to teacher training courses.

There are similar problems of access in some parts of England, he says, and timetabling of elements of the course can mean training takes up a large amount of time, which can be difficult if, for instance, you have a family. Online training allows students to be more flexible, he says, and, contrary to commonly held belief, it is very interactive. “We interact with our students a lot using lots of different media, including emails and texts. Traditional ways of education ignore the fact that the people they are training now communicate in different ways. People don’t need traditional face to face training any more, particularly more mature people,” says Jeremy.

Students are trained through a combination of online lectures and tutorials, face-to-face tuition and school placement experiences organised through the programme’s national network of Hub Schools.

HCUK currently offers a two-year initial teacher training course for those specialising in chemistry, physics, maths and modern languages, key shortage subjects in the UK, but is looking to extend the subjects it offers.

Students don’t have to have a degree in the subject as the course includes subject knowledge enhancement which includes specifics about the subject and how best to teach it, but they should have a good knowledge of it, for instance, a strong A Level. The first year can be done flexibly so that students can balance family commitments or another paid job. The second year includes 24 weeks of training at at least two schools linked to the scheme. “We end load this as much as possible so the course is flexible in the beginning,” says Jeremy, “ and do our best to come up with a placement that is workable for everyone.” For instance, he says, they have arranged for trainees to start their working day later if commuting is difficult and to do more weeks at the placement.

HCUK tries to match students up with the right school for them and provides the schools with support and training, including a subject mentor.

Those completing all elements within the programme are awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. This year it is also starting to offer primary school training.

The course, which is accredited by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, costs £9,900, but most home and EU students are eligible for  a tax free training bursary of up to £4,800.  Those who complete the entire programme are entitled to be paid a total training bursary, which varies according to the subject they are studying. For chemistry graduates, for instance, the bursary is £24,800.

Several of those who are due to graduate in December have already been offered jobs on completion of the course. “With the subject enhancement we offer they are extremely employable,” says Jeremy.

To find out more or to apply, click here.

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