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Second time around

Gaining full registration in a second subject meant travelling on the Flexible Route for modern languages teacher Mhairi Mitchell.

Flexible Route Probationer, Hawick High School

I completed my first probationary period in 2000. At that time it took two years! However, in comparison with my second probation it was relatively short!

In 2004 I completed an ATQ (Additional Teaching Qualification) in Spanish. As I was already fully registered in French and German, and in a full time post, I could follow the route for flexible probation: only 135 days.

However, as my school only offered Spanish as a third language option, it took me almost four years to get the necessary 20% teaching commitment on my timetable. After two years of Standard Grade classes, we were finally able to run an Intermediate/Higher Spanish class.

Supporter meetings

As an experienced teacher and a Flexible Route probationer with a full timetable, I did not have allotted meetings with the probationer mentor, nor did I attend the regional probationer meetings. It would have been a bit odd, as I was buddying one of the probationers at the time as part of Hawick High's staff welfare programme.

Nevertheless, Barbara (probationer mentor and fellow languages teacher) was extremely helpful with hints for finishing the final report, particularly regarding current educational phrasing and suggesting information to include. In actual fact, the preparation discussions with her and Colin (my PT) and completion of the form were the only things that did not fit into my normal teaching cycle.

As I did not have a supporter, I identified relevant departmental meetings and personal review discussions, which I used where the report asks for a record of meetings with your supporter.

Observed teaching sessions

Throughout the three years, as part of the school's peer observation programme, I asked colleagues, my PT and SMT members to observe my teaching with the classes. When I filled out the final profile, I was able to use their observation comments.

CPD record

It was also very useful to update and review my CPD record. Over three years of CPD covers a lot of paper. I did feel a little guilty mentioning holidays to Spain, but as a language teacher, it's always important to keep language and resources current!

Form-filling

Certain aspects of the form seemed inappropriate for someone with 10 years committed teaching experience and, and in discussion with my head teacher, these were abbreviated or omitted.

Reflecting on the Flexible Route through probation

While it was great to successfully achieve full registration, and the whole process was a real confidence boost, the best part was being able to teach a small, dedicated group of Spanish learners - last double on Fridays for three years was an absolute pleasure - and not many teachers can say that!