Relational tensions in Partnerships: the impact of recent policy changes
APTE and TEAN working together towards effective partnership
This event was the third collaboration between APTE and TEAN and took place in London on 20 March 2014. We considered relational tensions inherent in partnerships and ways of overcoming them: school/HEI; school/school; school/Local Authority; HEI/HEI; as well as the tensions inherent in School Direct with employment and training routes. The intention of the day was to offer an opportunity to bring colleagues from schools and HEIs together to "deconstruct, confront, theorise and then, think otherwise" about this area that is vital for the health of our teaching profession and the various sites of professional teacher engagement.
Dr d’Reen Struthers
TEAN would like to thank Dr d’Reen Struthers for the inspiration for this event and for all her help both before and on the day itself. d'Reen is a Principal Lecturer in the School of Education at Roehampton University. After successfully managing Schools Partnership for 7 years and then the remit for Training and Development, linked to partnership initiatives, she now has been recognised as the Lead on Teacher Inquiry within Professional Practice Development. Additionally she is National Chair of APTE and convenes the Practitioner Research Special Interest Group at the British Educational Research Association (BERA). d’Reen set the scene for the day, reminding us of the range of different partnerships which form 'a landscape of others'. 'Do we accept or challenge?' she asked us, 'What do we share in common?' d’Reen suggested that we look for new ways and take some risks as we look to move forward.
APTE and TEAN were delighted to welcome Dr Beth Dickson, University of Glasgow to give the keynote address. Beth is senior lecturer (Professional Learning and Leadership) at Glasgow University. In 2010-11 she was a co-investigator on the Evaluation of the Glasgow West Teacher Education Initiative. This Scottish Government-funded project evaluated a school-university pilot in which university tutors were based in schools full-time during student placements. The evaluation of the model of professional learning focussed on the perspectives of students, school teachers, headteachers, local authority personnel and university tutors. Beth spoke of her experiences with partnership and noted that trying to get institutions that are set in their ways to come together is complex. Delegates were very interested in Learning Rounds of which Beth spoke and much appreciated the perspective from Scotland, which, in fact, fundamentally resonates beyond policies and borders to inspire us to find positive solutions.
We then welcomed James Burch from the University of Cumbria. James is Secondary PGCE Programme leader at the University of Cumbria. Recent research work has focussed on investigating the development of partnerships between HEIs and schools based on a collaborative, rather than a cooperative model. Here, a 'deeper' interpretation of collaboration, that is to say 'working together' rather than 'working with' is facilitated through Third Space activity. In essence 'Third Space' suggests coming out of our normal working environment (school or university) and into a neutral 'third space' to design, develop and deliver teacher education with jointly shared understanding and vision. James gave us examples of the effects of recent School Direct government policy in England on teacher educators in English HEIs. He challenged us to consider 'troubling binaries': pre-determined/emergent; restrictive/expansive; practice/theory; 'addictive presentism'/a longer term view ... and reminded us that learning remains complex and messy and not open to easy solutions.
To continue the debate in the afternoon sessions, APTE and TEAN were very pleased to welcome four colleagues to present their perspectives.
Rachel Macdonald is Director of Teaching School at the Guru Nanak Teaching School Alliance. As Director of Teaching School, Rachel is responsible for the leadership and development of the alliance and the successful delivery of the 'Big 6' as well as the development of teaching, learning and leadership within Guru Nanak Sikh Academy. Rachel commented that time is a significant issue and that there are no ready solutions. She explored different types of partnership and suggested that school to school tensions can be difficult. The title of her presentation, however, reminds us of our common moral purpose; Working together to create a legacy of outstanding teaching and learning and exceptional pupil achievement.
Eric Winstone is Principal at Ormiston, Bushfield Academy which is recognised as one of the fastest improving Academies in the country. Their continuing quest is for outstanding teaching and learning in all areas of the curriculum for all their students. Their mission is to create an Academy on a human scale and they feel they ensure that they get to know each and every one of our students, as individuals. Eric gave us a personal view and stressed how the most important resource is the teacher. Leaders need vision and must not be drawn into an outcome driven culture. He stressed the importance of new ideas and noted that present policy allowed a school to 'grow their own' teachers.
Paula Gladwin is Director of Programmes at Hibernia College, Ireland’s only government-accredited eLearning college. The college specialises in postgraduate, undergraduate and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes for students and professionals across the globe. Paula used the words of footballer, Wayne Rooney, to suggest that 'perfect partners do not exist. Perfect conditions exist for a limited time in which partnerships express themselves best.' It is important that each side of the partnership recognises their responsibilities to the other; we need to look at the strengths in what we have and move forward together.
Nick Olley is the Programme Manager at the Cambridge Partnership for the salaried and self-funded routes leading to QTS, and also the MFL tutor. The Partnership is an initial teacher training provider whose aim is to provide high quality training for graduate trainees to qualify as teachers. Currently, The Cambridge Partnership works with secondary schools in all parts of the south east of England and especially Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and West Norfolk. It also works with teacher delegations from China and Australia and Nick is an integral part of this development. Nick explained tensions as he sees them with HEIs, suggesting that there was a need for mutual professional respect and a willingness to adopt new practice. It is important that there is a shared understanding of partnership in order to give trainees sensitive and real support.