Collaboration - a force multiplier

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Sussex Research Network event at University of Sussex (24th Feb 2016).

Extracts from the Thrive TSA presentation, given by Joanne Calladine-Evans.

Afternoon everyone, four years ago I was about to start on a new professional journey that I knew nothing about, it was a journey that changed the way that my school operated and consequently my own professional development and understanding. I was to learn that developing the staff in my school went beyond running inset days – valuable though they are, that in some roles a professionally supportive network is a ‘must’ rather than an option and that generating trust and transparency are necessary values to working effectively for the benefit of all children in our current education climate.

Of course I can see this with the benefit of hindsight but when my head asked me to ‘just look into’ how to go about applying to become a teaching school I had no idea what that would mean and naively assumed it would be a short term project!

At Thrive TSA we see mentoring a trainee as the first step on the ladder towards leadership and it stood me in good stead when School Direct came along. The school was able to gently develop a model of teacher training with the Education team’s support until eventually we built the capacity to develop robust systems of our own. The relationships that we built with the team here meant that when we submitted our Teaching School application we had a genuine partner in the University who were happy to support it and provided effective input. I hadn’t appreciated it at the time but I was becoming part of a network beyond my immediate circle of colleagues.

Being part of that professional network enabled Thrive TSA to be involved in a joint bid with St Pauls, St Marks and Newick TSA to establish a Maths Hub – a cross institution partnership of schools, universities and the local authority working together to raise the standards of mathematical achievement across the region through a variety of approaches for example, a recent collaboration has enabled us to work with the University of Sussex and St Pauls to develop specialist maths training for secondary and primary teachers.

Headteachers in our alliance had been concerned about provision for and the quality of NQT training and development in our part of Sussex, this was a concern raised at our TSA executive meeting which is attended by Simon Thompson here at Sussex who offered to support us in this new venture. We have since registered as an appropriate body which has enabled us to become responsible for the development and assessment of our own NQTs, working in collaboration with the Sabden TSA, Sussex University and the LA. We are in the first year of our pilot and have 10 registered NQTs. All are making good progress which is due to support for Professional Tutors, sharing good practice and also because we have joined our NQTs to the University CPD programme which has a high profile CPD and critical reflection package the like of which we could not deliver on our own. The NQTs are beginning to develop the skills of sharing and networking early in their career so that are prepared for their journey ahead. As word has spread this has encouraged other headteachers in the area to buy into it for their own NQTs.

Through the research network we were able to work with Sussex in the development of an MA in developing research leaders. Now in its second year it is going well with the two participants presenting their learning to local headteachers and establishing action learning groups within the school. They are both looking forward to their next step which is to work cross phase across our alliance which we feel will further develop teacher relationships and understanding and generate more research activity. Current research activity also includes a very well received research based programme called Grappling with Grammar involving 5 primary schools in our extended alliance.

The takeaway benefit to this talk I hope, is that we recognise the opprtunities for our schools of working in an active network with a university which is professionally inspiring and aspiring.

This blog links well with a previous one David Hargreaves article about joint professional development.

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