Previously, we designed guidance to tell candidates they have to do a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course before their teacher training.
We conducted usability testing the designs with 7 participants. We also sent a survey and received 232 responses from people who had received an offer with a condition that they do an SKE course before their training started.
Some of the findings we uncovered were about the wider SKE policy and the friction it was causing users of Apply for teacher training and wider. Some of the areas of friction were around:
- choosing an SKE course
- applying for an SKE course (a separate process to applying for teacher training)
- receving the funding for an SKE course
- the content of SKE courses
We wanted to capture these findings in a way that would help people empathise with candidates and providers. So, we wrote a story…
When Francis felt frustrated
Francis has a degree in Pharmacology, and dreams of teaching chemistry and making it fun!
She applies to a secondary teacher training course in chemistry. To apply, she has to fill out a form.
Francis gets an interview from a training provider called Fresh Teacher Training.
Before her interview, Francis fills out a second form called a ‘subject knowledge audit’.
Francis starts to fret that she doesn’t know enough to teach.
A recruitment officer from Fresh Teacher Training reviews Francis’ subject knowledge audit.
It takes time and it’s hard to assess if Francis knows enough chemistry.
Fresh Teacher Training decides Francis might need a ‘subject knowledge enhancement’ (SKE) course.
Her degree in Pharmacology doesn’t exactly match to chemistry.
The interviewer tells Francis she could do an SKE course based on her subject knowledge audit.
The interviewer feels:
“Francis is going to be so prepared!”
“So much to do, I’m a little scared!”
Francis says “Yes” to the SKE course in the interview but feels under pressure.
Getting a teacher training offer
Fresh Teacher Training makes Francis an offer to train to teach with them!
The offer comes with the condition that Francis does a 12-week SKE course before her training.
12 weeks is all the time left before Francis starts her teacher training.
Francis starts to fret (again):
“It’s 25 hours a week, how will I fit this in around my job as a waiter”
“12 weeks, that’s 3 months. I guess I won’t have much holiday after working so hard at university. I’m tired already”
“Wait, is it free?”
“Where do I do this course, how do I begin? I don’t have much time to waste”
Francis accepts her offer.
“Better than no offer at all!”
Fresh Teacher Training sends Francis some information about SKE courses.
They give her lots of options on where to do her SKE course, but strongly encourage a training provider called ExtrA Learning Trust.
Francis researches all the options. She looks at the SKE directory on GOV.UK but she can’t tell the difference between each course.
Francis joins some forums looking for any reviews on different SKE courses.
Some reviews are fabulous, some are frightening.
Francis eventually chooses ExtrA Learning Trust that Fresh Teacher Training originally recommended.
She goes to the website and fills out another form.
“Fiddlesticks” says Francis,
“I’ve already given this information when I applied for teacher training”
“Oh no, another subject knowledge audit?”
ExtrA Learning Trust receives the form from Francis. They fill out a different form to get funding from the Department for Education.
They ask Francis to send her degree certificate and proof of her home fee status.
“Not again” says Francis.
Starting the SKE course
Francis starts her SKE course online. She does it alone and mostly in the evenings after work.
There’s a lot to do and she must write long reflection essays at the end of every week.
Francis feels frustrated that she’s not spending enough time doing practical chemistry exercises.
Randomly, ExtrA Learning Trust asks for Francis’ bank details, she’s not sure why.
Francis finds out she will get £175 a week to do her SKE course.
It’s less than she earns as a waiter and she’s halfway through her SKE course already.
“Bit late, but ok”
Francis fills out another form to provide her bank details.
It’s been 3 weeks since Francis gave her bank details. She wonders when she’ll get paid.
She’s doing less hours waiting tables because of her workload. Finances are tight.
Fresh Teacher Training doesn’t know anything about the SKE bursary when she asks them.
After a few weeks, Francis suddenly receives her SKE bursary backdated from when she started, followed by more regular payments. “Phew!”
Time to start teacher training
Just before her teacher training starts, Francis goes to Florence! She’s saved up a whole year for this.
Francis falls behind on her SKE course work and must finish it during the first 2 weeks of her teacher training.
Suddenly, the SKE bursary payments stop. She didn’t know you can’t get the bursary if it overlaps with teacher training.
Francis feels frustrated!
Francis makes some friends on her teacher training course. They also had to do an SKE course.
Everyone has different things to say about their SKE course – from different lengths to different content.
Some thought they were fabulous, some thought they were frightening.
Francis loves her teacher training course, but she’s relearning things she did in her SKE course.
Francis feels frustrated (again).
– The End
Sharing our work
We shared this story with other user centered design professions and with policy colleagues. The team that run the SKE policy are bringing all the research done on SKE courses (including ours) to look at improvements to the policy at various stages in a user’s journey.