About the author…

Rob is the Director of The OAKS

Partnering to empower high-quality teachers across the country

By Rob Tweats

  11 November, 2020

First featured on www.theoaks.org.uk on Friday 23 October 2020.

Rob Tweats, Director of The OAKS shares an insight into The OAKS and how it all works, and highlights the launch of the new Norfolk Hub.

So much of our time currently is focused on working out the ‘new normal’ in education, but some things remain the same. Indeed, even amid a global pandemic, there is a continual need for high-quality teachers, and courses which empower the next wave of educators.

That is why The OAKS is so delighted to partner with Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) and Keele University to deliver its Ofsted outstanding and innovative SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training programme) in areas across the country.

Having developed a long history of success in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire, Birmingham and the Black Country, and Cheshire, we are due to kick off our Norfolk programme in September 2021.

Covid-19 challenges

Of course, The OAKS is firmly aware that these are not normal times in which to be teaching. As far as possible, we prefer to conduct our training face-to-face, but this is also supplemented by online learning and virtual meetings.

Above all, we want to ensure the safety and security of our trainees and their students. Hence, we adhere strictly to DfE guidance with regards to Covid-19 and have our own risk assessment. More so, schools within the partnership have their own protocols for dealing with the pandemic and once trainees are on placement, they follow these remits.

The OAKS experience

Putting the theory into practice

So, what sets The OAKS apart? One of the great benefits of training with The OAKS is your core training days; building on all the knowledge The OAKS can provide, these will take place in a school rather than a university or office space. This means there is a unique level of flexibility to relate theory to practice at any moment in the course, not just during placement.

The OAKS operates a three-phase system, with phases one and two being in the first school placement, and the final placement being your third phase of training. As you train to teach, your teaching timetable will gradually increase:

  • Phase 1 (6 to 7 weeks) – 12 lessons (total during phase)
  • Phase 2 (7 weeks) – 8/10 lessons per week
  • Phase 3 (13 weeks) – 12/14 lessons per week

Teaching beyond the classroom

We pride ourselves on our superb trainee support, both in and outside of school, and our excellent communication between trainees, schools and The OAKS. At The OAKS, we will also enrich your training with access to other vital school or education-related experiences, such as visits to Pupil Referral Units (PRU) and time spent in special schools for SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability). We also offer the option of MAPP (multi-agency placements) entitlement, and the opportunity to explore EAL (English as an additional language) in multi-cultural partnership schools. Whatever your interest in teaching, we ensure you have the means to pursue your passion.


One of our greatest strengths will be the scale and personal nature of our provision, and the close working relationship between all the schools within the partnership. Trainees will work together closely as a group and build strong relationships with their mentors and tutors. Schools and mentors will work collaboratively to support trainees too; for example, to ensure a cohesive transition between placements, your mentor from your second placement school will see you teach in your first.

This will mean that the support can be much more bespoke and personalised than it would be on many teacher training routes. For trainees this brings consistency in the quality of mentoring and feedback they receive, for our partnership schools it brings confident trainees who have clear plans in place for progressing into great teachers who will change lives in our communities.

Ongoing support

At The OAKS we pride ourselves on the support that our trainee teachers receive during their training year and beyond. Trainees benefit from the support of a range of key staff during their training year, including an OAKS personal tutor and a subject expert, along with a professional tutor and subject mentor for each school placement. 

Starting your journey

To apply to train to teach with The OAKS, we require achievement of at least a 2:2 – or preferably a 2:1 – honours degree (or recognised equivalent) ideally related to the subject that you wish to teach. We also require passes at GCSE in English language and mathematics at grade C/4 or above (or recognised equivalent).

There are bursaries available for eligible graduates who are starting their training on a postgraduate route into the non-salaried PGCE and School Direct programmes. The training bursary awarded is dependent on the subject that a trainee trains to teach – not the subject of their degree or academic qualification. It is also dependent on the grade of their highest academic qualification. For the 2020/21 academic year, these tax-free bursaries were awarded of up to £28,000 (however, this does not apply to School Direct Salaried candidates as this is an employment-based route into teaching).

Secondary mathematics, physics, chemistry and languages trainees who start an eligible postgraduate ITT programme in academic year 2020/21 will receive three additional early-career payments of £2,000 each (£3,000 if teaching in specified areas of England) in their second, third and fourth years of teaching, if they have taught in a state-funded school in England since completing their teacher training course. These amounts are after tax, so teachers will receive the full amount as stated. For more information on this, you can visit the government’s dedicated website: https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/funding-my-teacher-training.

Opening doors

Alongside the wealth of practical experience you will gain at The OAKS, all of our trainees completing the PGCE or School Direct routes have the opportunity of gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) certification and obtaining a PGCE academic award at either level 6 or 7. Our Assessment Only route into teaching is designed to fast-track experienced unqualified teachers, with this being a QTS only award.

Even outside of mainstream teacher training, many of our CPD sessions are also certificated, for example Safeguarding (Level 1), CEOPs and Behaviour Day. This all adds to the holistic package which The OAKS can deliver for prospective teachers, whether you have always wanted to teach, or are just bursting for a new challenge.

So, if you are interested in teaching, and want a programme which gives you invaluable classroom-based experience, alongside all the other insights The OAKS has to share, then please do get in touch. You can find out more on our website at https://www.theoaks.org.uk/ or follow us on Twitter @InitialOAKS

Norfolk hub

We are pleased to announce a new and exciting hub based in Norfolk. The OAKS Norfolk will now maintain and enhance the current outstanding provision that The OAKS offers. By training to teach at Ormiston Venture Academy trainee teachers will become part of an Ofsted graded outstanding school and benefit from a high-quality programme of in-school support and training in addition to the excellent training provided by The OAKS Norfolk. The combination of these programmes will help to equip trainees with the skills, knowledge and practice to become highly effective teachers.

Below is a list of all the schools in our partnership:

Click here for more information.

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About the author…

Rob is the Director of The OAKS