A ground-breaking partnership between Sheffield Hallam University and Wipro Limited to support teachers in South Yorkshire through a long-term programme of development has begun.

Made possible thanks to a donation from Wipro Limited, a global information technology company based in India, the initiative will support newly qualified, early and mid-career teachers in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, computer science and mathematics).

The programmes come as a direct response to the chronic shortage of STEM teachers in the UK.  A 2018 report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that teacher training applications were down by 5% in 2018 compared to the year before, and that’s not the only problem.

Teachers are also leaving the profession at a higher rate than ever before, with only 60% of teachers remaining in the profession for five years or more after training. For STEM subjects, this 5-year retention rate drops to just 50%.

The 18-month programmes will give teachers in South Yorkshire the opportunity to improve their pedagogical and subject knowledge through use of evidence and enquiry into their practice and to receive individualised support through local mentors.

Three cohorts will enter the programme, the first of which began in January, the second cohort will begin in September 2019 and the third in September 2020.

Schools from across Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and North Derbyshire are partnering with the Sheffield Institute of Education (SIoE) at Sheffield Hallam. The current cohort involves fifteen schools, with twenty-two teacher fellows and mentors.

Jenny Townson, a science teacher at the XP East School in Doncaster, said: “I wanted to be involved in the programme as a teacher fellow to further my continuing professional development (CPD) through collaboration and use that support to continue improving my teaching methods and pedagogy.

“I’m really confident in my subject knowledge, teaching physics, chemistry and biology at GCSE level, but this is about making sure we’re being innovative and using the resources that we have available. I’m really looking forward to working together to really get back to why we became teachers, following that passion and creativity to improve.”

Adam Castle, a physics teacher from Forge Valley School in Sheffield, said: “I’ve been teaching for 14 years and I’m really looking forward to getting started on this programme. I’ll be working with a recently qualified teacher, looking to develop her teaching techniques and ensure the students are really engaging with the subject as much as possible.

“In turn, this will hopefully help her get some satisfaction from what she’s doing and feel confident about her teaching and interaction with the students. And of course, the beauty of this project is that not only will my teacher fellow (hopefully) see these benefits, at the same time I’ll also be able to develop and improve as well.”

The initiative feeds into Sheffield Hallam’s social mobility programme South Yorkshire Futures and will be led by Dr Emily Perry, deputy head of the Centre for Development and Research in Education and head of funded knowledge exchange for SIoE.

Dr Emily Perry said: “The Wipro teacher fellow and mentor programmes aim to increase young people’s enjoyment, attainment and progression in STEM subjects by supporting teachers in developing their practice using a collaborative programme of learning and development.”

“It’s very exciting to introduce the first cohort of our teacher fellows and mentors to the programme today, to have everyone here getting to know each other and begin to see how the programme will come together. This is a three-way exchange, with the mentors, fellows and university staff learning and gaining from each other, improving practice and understanding.”

Sheffield Hallam University is the most prominent university in the UK for driving improvements in education and championing social mobility.

As a key regional institution, the University has committed to improving education across South Yorkshire through its ground-breaking social mobility partnership: South Yorkshire Futures.

The flagship project, backed by the Department for Education, aims to improve attainment and raise aspiration for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across all age groups, whilst developing a dedicated workforce to support them.

Sheffield Institute of Education (SIoE) is a national centre of education, recognised for its excellence and innovation in teaching and learning. From early years through to higher education, SIoE provides over 1,000 qualified teachers each year to the local region across all age groups.