On 11 March 2015 TEAN, the Teacher Education Advancement Network, and APTE, the Association for Partnership in Teacher Education, came together to advance the conceptualisation of partnership in teacher education.
We investigated the notion of ‘Growing Partnerships’. Much is written and discussed about partnership in education; creating effective, balanced partnerships is challenging for all concerned. It is essential to take time to ensure the wellbeing of any partnership. A partnership is organic, it needs to grow and evolve and be constantly nurtured. It requires the energy and commitment of all parties to succeed.This event invited delegates to contemplate their own partnerships, to discover whether they were in fact growing or stagnating, and offered others’ experience to compare with their own.
Sir Andrew Carter
APTE and TEAN were delighted to welcome Sir Andrew Carter, OBE to give the opening keynote for the day.
Andrew is Headteacher of South Farnham School, an Academy with 758 pupils aged from 4 – 11 years. The school features in the DfE publication ‘Making Great Progress’ as one of the 20 highest achieving schools nationally. Andrew is a National Leader of Education and was recently appointed to chair the Independent Review of Initial Teacher Training which reported to the Secretary of State early in 2015.
Andrew set the scene for the day asking us to look closely at partnerships and what they mean or should mean. Partnerships, he advised us, create opportunities for something to happen; to do things we haven’t even imagined yet. HEIs are an integral, critical part of ITE and have the power to transform schools. Throughout the day his message revolved around this quotation he gave us from Abraham Lincoln: ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it’.
Dr Jeanette Mills
We then welcomed Dr Jeanette Mills, Acting Principal of the Primary Team of the Pilgrim Partnership. The Pilgrim Partnership is an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) provider offering school-centred teacher training. Based in Bedford, the Partnership has over 14 years’ experience of working with schools in and around the locality. For the academic year 2015-2016, the Partnership is offering the SCITT programme, and is working with seven lead schools to offer the School Direct Training Programme (tuition fee and salaried). This was an interesting look at partnership through a SCITT. Jeanette stressed the importance of designating understood roles to the members of a partnership, always remembering that there are many different types of partnership model and that partnership is never static.
Download Jeanette Mills' PowerPoint
After lunch, we enjoyed two further perspectives on growing partnerships, firstly from Sean Cavan and then from Patrick Freeman.
Sean Cavan is Head of Strategic Business Engagement at Sheffield Hallam University and Vice Chair of UCET, the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers. His teaching interests include the development of high-quality, accessible and meaningful learning experiences that meet the needs of organisations and the individual professionals that work within them. Sean reminded us that we are a community of equals in partnerships. Partners can be different or sometimes similar; they change frequently. They are complex and multiple; the relationships’ map he has on his PowerPoint shows this very clearly. What happens on the lines on this map matters; we need to understand what happens on the lines.
Download Sean Cavan's PowerPoint
Patrick Freeman, National Executive Committee Secretary for APTE, is Principal Lecturer and Partnership Manager at the University of Cumbria. He is involved in partnership in several ways: ITE programmes within schools; Partnership - CPD within schools; Collaborative learning: PBL and ‘Discussion for learning’; Building strong ‘Learning Partnerships’ with schools and businesses; Chair of University of Cumbria Early Years and Primary Partnership Committee. Patrick put children in their rightful place at the centre of all this. Everyone has to be involved; make sure the students are involved; listen to schools – ask them how they see partnership working.
Download Patrick Freeman's PowerPoint
All our speakers were joined by James Noble-Rogers, Executive Director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, to form a panel to close the day. Delegates chose ‘big’ questions to wonder how the panel would react. Education Policy? Is that what is it, what do we do with it? A myriad lines of enquiry lead from this, but Andrew Carters’ exhortation to us to ‘tell them’ rather than wait to be told is sound advice. Act as one entity, not two, to drive forward towards a new future for ITE, rather than ITT. Where is the power? Another ‘big’ question which James Noble-Rogers suggested answered by suggesting that power lies in professional dialogue. And a final note to end the day concerned Ofsted; ITE should be part of it for schools.
Group sessions provided opportunities to explore the issues of Growing Partnerships further.
How to grow effective partnerships
- Creativity in placing trainees is important.
- There is the will to QA placements but this can be a significant challenge pitted against the need to place trainees.
- Strong theme of schools wanting to have more involvement with research – where the HEI can play a role.
- Tensions around ‘outstanding’ schools using schemes which do not necessarily show outstanding practice
- More work to do to share ITT Ofsted framework etc. with schools – supporting criteria (compliance) also – deeper understanding
- Need to involve VLs and ALs in partnership much more to develop an understanding of ITT procedures and guidance.
- What you need to grow effective partnerships? Communication; Trust; ITT and ITE; to consider competition and marketing; to be flexible; the student voice.
- Shared moderation and QA processes. The role of the HEI in the process is to maintain rigour and equality of opportunity.
- Need to ensure a balance in the system; just because parts of the old system didn’t work doesn’t mean it all needs to change!
- Find a space for the student to learn within changing partnerships; find a way to represent that student. Students may only experience one model. How do we ensure they see a variety of practice? They may only get variety in larger partnerships.
- Involve schools at a more operational level as well as strategic.
- Consider the tactics as well as the strategy.
- Build a shared language across the partnership.
- Look at how to share the programme of CPD.
- Consider the relationships between stakeholders in partnerships.
- Look for the opportunities of partnership; localised knowledge of the school; enriched experience within clusters; theory and practice based outcomes; employability opportunities; schools genuinely want students; schools already have ‘buy in’ knowledge of students; CPD for teachers/all – school and HEI/ a greater structure for leadership and development; if we get it right there is opportunity for training early, middle and senior leadership.
Many thanks to all for a day full of interesting debate and helpful inspiration.