If there were a way to bottle-up Joshua Hughes’ passion for science, then we would all be a little richer in knowledge.
But the formula behind the newly qualified teacher’s (NQT) classroom methods is no secret: “It’s about making science fun and engaging,” he reveals.
The chemistry teacher is keen to impart his enthusiasm to the “fantastic” students at Arthur Terry School, where he joined as an NQT in September, teaching years 7 to 11 and leading a tutor group.
He says: “They’re a terrific group of students and I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”
Joshua hasn’t wasted any time in bringing his favourite subjects to life outside the classroom either. He’s involved in the setting up a new STEM club to inspire and motivate students, because personal experience has taught him that positivity is conducive to success.
“I love the job. I love working here. The staff are great – everybody is really supportive and there’s such a positive atmosphere. It makes a huge difference and pushes me to be better,” he says.
Joshua is quite at home at Arthur Terry. Last year he was one of 60 associate teachers to complete their teacher training with the Arthur Terry National Teaching School’s (ATNTS) established School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme.
As part of the year long course, he undertook one teaching placement at Cardinal Wiseman School and two others at Arthur Terry School (ATNTS). During this time, he gained a valuable insight to life inside the classroom and he credits the ATNTS’ personalised approach as being instrumental to his progress.
“The support you’re given is second to none – it’s Incredible. There’s always somebody there for you. They really do tailor the course to the individual – to their background and experience, their personal circumstances – they take great care in everything they do.”
Like all ATLP NQTs, Joshua was able to attend a two-week induction programme just before the summer holidays. This provided him with further training and the chance to bond with fellow new teachers, who are also given an introduction to their new school. In Joshua’s case, he was delighted to be offered a position at a secondary school that he already called “home” – Arthur Terry.
He says: “It was fantastic to come back. Not just because I was already familiar with the school, but because it’s so friendly and supportive.”
Every Newly Qualified Teacher needs a robust support network, advises Diane Read, an assistant headteacher at Arthur Terry School and senior mentor to NQTS since 2004.
“NQTs are our leaders in education of tomorrow and it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that they’re supported and encouraged to become the confident, well-motivated teachers we want our students to be inspired by. Joshua has embodied all of that,”
Each newly qualified teacher has a personal mentor, a skilled teacher, who provides dedicated coaching to help NQTs develop in their teaching. In addition, Arthur Terry School provide 15 ‘twilights’ over the year (dedicated sessions after school) to address wider training needs and deepen NQTs’ understanding of the education landscape.
Speaking as both senior mentor and ‘proud parent’ Diane highlights the “pleasure” she gains from seeing associate teachers, like Joshua, develop into established NQTs.
She says: “Joshua’s enthusiasm and drive make the learning environment a stimulating one for our students. His love of learning spreads to an active involvement in extra-curricular activities where, alongside colleagues, he provides different learning opportunities for students.”
Those activities include the Greenpower racing team, the Outward Bound trip to Aberdovey and the Duke of Edinburgh Award – which Joshua was involved with during his placement year.
He says: “If you look back at school, it’s the experiences, the friendships that help shape you – and it’s rewarding to be part of that.”
Then there’s the new STEM club, which Joshua has formed with his friends – fellow NQTS, who are always there for each other, working together to enrich school life.
Diane adds: “We’re so fortunate to have enthusiastic Newly Qualified Teachers within the ATLP who are so student centred. Our investment in our NQTs is paid back tenfold because of the support they then provide to our students.”
This ‘give and gain’ philosophy is inherent across the ATLP’s family of seven academies. From the outset, staff are aware of the clear benefits of school-to-school collaboration and sharing best practice. The close network of schools – schools Joshua already knows from his time as an associate teacher – provides great scope for both students and staff to progress.
Over the last decade the partnership has created 10 headteachers, 14 deputy headteachers, 16 assistant headteachers and other senior leaders.
With his sights firmly set on becoming a headteacher, Joshua is only too keen to embrace the opportunities for training and professional development.
He observes: “Here, everybody has high ambitions and the chance to progress. I feel appreciated, and everybody I meet tells me that they feel the same.”