ITE Meet the Team

Gillian Bruce

Partnership Programme Lead

I have been the partnership programme lead since September 2018, however, I have been involved in the School Direct Programme since it began in 2016. I was the lead mentor at Park Community Academy and supported our School Direct Students who came on placements to PCA. I also deliver taught sessions on the course. I began my teaching career in Blackpool coming to Park Community Academy as an NQT in 2010, Blackpool has been a wonderful place to develop my career as a SEND teacher. It’s a unique place where children have many challenges to overcome, being a part of this is extremely rewarding. I was awarded ‘outstanding teacher of the year’ in the Blackpool Achievement awards and was also nominated for a National Teaching Award. I am now very proud to be supporting and developing the next generation of Blackpool teachers.

Chris Barlow

University Partnership Lead

After many successful years as a primary school teacher and deputy head, Chris has been working in teacher training at University of Cumbria in Lancaster for thirteen years. Although originally employed to teach his personal areas of curriculum passion (geography and history), and to visit students whilst on placement in schools, Chris now predominantly teaches on the Primary post-graduate degree and is the cohort leader for Lancaster students. Although Chris teaches the main core module of the Post Graduate teaching degree, as well as the master’s level High Quality Teaching and Learning and Raising the Achievement of Children modules, Chris is keen to retain input into the teaching of primary geography and is a member of the Geographical Association’s Teacher Educator Special Interest Group (TESIG). Chris is currently collating exemplar initial teacher training materials for the Geographical Association, for use across all routes into primary teaching, and is also a regular contributor to the Primary Geography magazine and to the Geographical Association’s annual conference. In his role as A UPT Chris has been involved with the establishment and running of the Blackpool School Direct teaching group. Chris teaches the master’s level elements of the course, over sees the quality assurance of the student experience and works alongside Gillian Bruce and Gill Hughes to develop the quality of the course, to interview prospective new students, to monitor student achievement and to assist the student progression into employment. Chris is a firm believer in making learning engaging and memorable and counts as one of his strengths the constant desire to look at learning in as creative a way as possible and to attempt to model the good practice children deserve from teachers. Chris declares that he ‘loves his job’ and when not thoroughly enjoying working with and influencing the next generation of teachers, (which he believes is a privilege) Chris can be found playing guitar, listening to music, walking the dog or spending time with his family.



Our Schools and Mentors

There are 28 primary schools in Blackpool Teaching School Alliance who are committed to supporting us with ITE, in addition to the two SEND schools within the alliance we have 4 additional Special Schools who support us with ITE.
We have a fantastic team of mentors in the schools who are there to support your learning journey. All mentors have had mentor training provided by the University of Cumbria which is updated every 3 years. Mentors also attend regular mentor meetings held with the programme leads to ensure they are fully informed and up to date with the requirements of hosting and offering placements for students.


Click here to see schools in our alliance.


Additional Special Schools who support us.

Special School Partners

Hillside Specialist School and College

Pear Tree School

Highfurlong School

Park Community Academy




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