Former military personal help their communities in the fight against coronavirus

Typing on Laptop

Trainees on the Further Forces Programme make the most of the flexibility of their own learning to support vulnerable groups and key services

  • 18 June 2020
  • 3 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has meant teaching and learning has moved from the classroom to online, which was a sudden and significant change as lockdown began.

However, participants on the Further Forces programme, where former military personal can train to become further education technical teachers, are used to this approach. The programme’s teacher training is delivered by the University of Portsmouth to individuals throughout England. Blended learning and remote subject specialist mentoring are at the core of the programme, with most engagement taking place online with additional webinars, videos and telephone support.

A number of Further Forces trainees have played their part during the coronavirus outbreak, making the most of the flexibility of their own learning to support vulnerable groups and key services:

While completing his PGCE, Further Forces trainee Jamie Lennon was deployed to the specially built London Nightingale Hospital, where he used his expertise in virus control to help train nurses who had been deployed there

Kayhlan Norgrove, who also works as a teacher with the Prince’s Trust, has developed online content for the charity Inner Flame which supports NEET 16–25-year-olds. 

Amber Eckford, a trainee who teaches at Havant and South Downs College, has been balancing her teaching duties with home schooling her own daughter and continuing in her unit welfare role for her army regiment, offering advice to soldiers and their families. 

Chris McCosh, a Further Forces trainee who teachers at Duchy College, Cornwall, and still serves, has been part of Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA), requiring him to work both from home and at his barracks. 

It is excellent to see our initial teacher education programme has enabled our trainee teachers to adapt their teaching practice during this incredibly challenging time.

Dr Stephen Corbett, Head of School Languages and Applied Linguistics

Dr Stephen Corbett, Head of School Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We are very proud of the work of our trainee teachers. It is excellent to see our initial teacher education programme has enabled them to adapt their teaching practice during this incredibly challenging time.”

Cerian Ayres, Education and Training Foundation (ETF) National Head of Technical Education, said: “Further Forces trainees have adapted exceptionally well to online teaching and learning of their classes, as it is how they themselves learn on this blended learning programme. Trainees have offered support to colleagues in their organisations and within their wider learning communities, in terms of use technology to facilitate learning and in a variety of diverse capacities. 

“University of Portsmouth colleagues have worked to support trainees through difficult times with additional webinars, for example addressing online and remote teaching and learning, creating interactive and engaging lessons using technology. The feedback from trainees and the further education providers that employ them has been overwhelmingly positive.’’

Further Forces is commissioned by the ETF, funded by the Department for Education and Gatsby Charitable Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Defence. It gives ex-military personnel the opportunity to work towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) while learning on the job and working with a mentor who supports their transition into a new career in teaching that supports their resettlement to civilian life.


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