You might feel trapped. Charged with the responsibility to support Student Teachers as they work towards meeting the requirements of the Teachers Standards and the paperwork from their Training Provider, what can you do if they too are questioning the status quo in schools and are wanting to engage their pupils in discussions about sustainability and the climate and ecological emergency we face?
Perhaps they are challenging the way a subject has been taught in the past and want to invite more student agency and active learning? Or maybe this is what you are doing, and it is certainly different from what the student-teacher’s expectations are? Their careers are on the line if they are not seen to be meeting those standards, they risk failure to get QTS. Therefore, any discussions you have with them about possible deviance from the curriculum, must be about also ensuring together that you can rationalise actions in relation to Teachers Standards, especially also, Part II of the Professional Teaching Standards. Such discussions can centre on supporting the student-teacher to understand how you can engage with curriculum change and translate student engagements and relevance and how you manage your professional response within the school system. This will certainly support them as NQTs and beyond. Being able to support a student teacher take risks with their teaching and the curriculum, within your supportive gaze is essential if the are going to change the broken system. Student teachers therefore rely on your role-modelling of questioning the status quo. Begin able to articulate your own rationale for this action is therefore crucial.
Where does disruption sit with expected Professional behaviour and the Teacher Standards? This may be a question put to you, but have your response prepared. Part II of the Teachers Standards states: Uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within & outside school. It could be argued therefore, that it is part of our professional duty to be ‘telling the truth’ and ‘acting now’ (two core demands of XR) in light of the duty of care we are also charged with, of our pupils. It is very difficult for the police to police a group who are peacefully breaking the law in order to highlight a moral wrong. However, the fine line to be mindful of, as stated in the 2014 Teaching Standards is “Part II (e) ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law”. Our professional behaviour must be that – and come from a place of care to motivate, help and inspire our students to know the truth and feel fully agentic with that knowledge.