Experiment 2b: Iterating what we show to ITT providers when they search for school placements

This post is the second of 2 parts:

  1. Iterating how schools add school placements
  2. Iterating what we show to ITT providers when they search for school placements

In this second part of the experiment, we again addressed problem statement 2, problems with mentor availability:

Providers need high-quality mentors for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) trainees.

They need help finding mentors within their networks, limiting how many trainees they can recruit.

How might we support providers to find enough mentors to maximise trainee capacity?

This is the second iteration in our approach to ‘Finding a school placement’.

Experiment goals

The experiment had 2 goals:

  • general fact-finding about school placements
  • understanding how a provider might find a school placement

General fact-finding about school placements

The fact-finding part of the research included:

  • a general discussion about the participant’s role, their organisation and their partner school network
  • a run-through of their pain points, core needs and any specific challenges they face with school placements

Understanding how a provider might find a school placement

We showed participants a prototype journey of how they could search for a placement based on chosen criteria.

How the prototype works

From the first iteration we:

  • removed information about class size and training pattern
  • added information about key stage, mentor name and mentor availability

We made these changes because:

  • showing the class size and training pattern is not helpful to ITT providers
  • showing mentor details helps ITT providers make a judgement on whether the school placement is suitable for their trainee

Finding a school placement

Image showing the flow diagram for finding a school placement
Find a school placement flow

Finding a school placement has 5 steps:

  1. Find school placements by location or by school
  2. Select an age group
  3. Select a subject
  4. View a list of school placements
  5. View an individual school placement

Find school placements by location or by school

Image showing find school placements by location or by school page
Find school placements by location or by school

We display the list of locations in an autocomplete. We populate the list of places using the Google Places API.

We display the list of schools in an autocomplete. We populate the list of schools from Get information about schools (GIAS) data.

Age group

Image showing age group question
Age group question

The question has 3 options:

  • primary
  • secondary
  • further education

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Select an age group

Subject

We show a list of subjects depending on the age group previously selected.

Primary subject specialism

Image showing primary subject specialism question
Primary subject specialism question

We show a list of primary subject specialisms if a user selects the ‘primary’ age group. These include:

  • Primary
  • Primary with English
  • Primary with geography and history
  • Primary with mathematics
  • Primary with modern languages
  • Primary with physical education
  • Primary with science

Secondary subject

Image showing secondary subject question
Secondary subject question

We show a list of secondary subjects if a user selects the ‘secondary’ age group. These include:

  • Ancient Greek
  • Ancient Hebrew
  • Art and design
  • Biology
  • Business studies
  • Chemistry
  • Citizenship
  • Classics
  • Communication and media studies
  • Computing
  • Dance
  • Design and technology
  • Drama
  • Economics
  • English
  • English as a second or other language
  • French
  • Geography
  • German
  • Health and social care
  • History
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Latin
  • Mandarin
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physical education
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Religious education
  • Russian
  • Science
  • Social sciences
  • Spanish

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Select a subject

List of school placements

Image showing the list of school placements page
List of school placements

Once the user has selected their location, subject level and subject, we show them a list of relevant school placements.

The list page includes:

  • filters
  • a list of individual placements
  • pagination - if the list contains greater than 20 items

The filter panel includes example ‘contrast factors’:

  • age group
  • key stage
  • gender

‘Contrast factors’ allow ITT providers to filter the type of school placement and focus the results on what they need.

The filters in the filter panel correspond to the information displayed in the individual school placement list item.

An individual placement item on the list includes:

  • school name
  • subject
  • age range
  • key stage
  • school gender
  • mentor name
  • mentor availability

Iteration of search results page

We changed the search results list item between experiments 1 and 2 to reflect the changes in the content we collect from schools.

Image showing the change in search results content and layout between experiments 1 and 2
The change in search results content and layout between experiments 1 and 2

We also changed the search results filters between experiments 1 and 2 to reflect the changes in the content we show on the search results list items.

Image showing the change in search results filters between experiments 1 and 2
The change in search results filters between experiments 1 and 2

School placement details page

Image showing school placement details page
School placement details

Selecting the school name or subject in the individual school placement list items takes the user to the school placement details page.

The school placement details page includes:

  • school name
  • subject
  • a summary list containing age range, key stage, school gender, mentor name and mentor availability
  • contact details
  • information about training with disabilities and other needs

Iteration of the school placement details page

We changed the school placement details page between experiments 1 and 2 to reflect the changes in the content we collect from schools.

Image showing the change in the details page content and layout between experiments 1 and 2
The change in the details page content between experiments 1 and 2

Further considerations

We considered some changes that we did not implement. These included:

  • whether the service is behind a DfE Sign-in screen
  • skipping questions if we already know the answer - for example, age group
  • removing irrelevant options if we know more details about the provider

DfE Sign-in

We assume the service’s ‘manage school placements’ side will be behind a DfE Sign-in screen. However, this is not necessarily true of a ‘find a school placement’ service.

We must determine whether the ‘find a school placement’ service needs to be behind a DfE Sign-in.

Skipping questions or removing irrelevant options

If the ‘find a school placement’ service is behind a DfE Sign-in, we can gather more information about the ITT provider and skip questions or remove irrelevant question options in the find flow.

For example, if the ITT provider only runs secondary courses, we wouldn’t ask questions about the subject level or age range.

What we found

Seeing potential placement schools in the service is helpful to providers. However, some users stated they would still need to ensure new partner schools met their partnership standards.

Selecting ‘mentor availability’ was challenging as this would depend on which ITT provider they had chosen to work with that academic year. It is not ordinarily pre-defined.

General findings

There has been a successful effort to standardise ITT course curriculum and mentor training amongst a cohort of providers to allow placement school or mentor sharing.

The mentoring profession could benefit from recognition and an official qualification. This finding echoes our previous research and that of other adjacent teams.

Schools already register Early Career Framework (ECF) mentors into a central system. Therefore, registering ITT mentors into a similar service would be helpful.