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Theorising the New Partnership Landscape

APTE and TEAN working together towards effective partnership

This event in March 2013 sought to build on the 2012 successful collaboration between TEAN, the Teacher Education Advancement Network, and APTE, the Association for Partnership in Teacher Education where we had looked at ‘Lenses of Partnership’. Now we looked to advance the conceptualisation of partnership in teacher education. How are new partnerships being co-constructed? How are systems being effectively brought together? What challenges are arising from new partnerships? How are these challenges to be met? The event brought an opportunity to deepen understanding of what partnership actually means, to reflect on what has been achieved and to move forward to what needs to be done next. TEAN would like to thank d’Reen Struthers, Roehampton University, a member of the APTE committee, for the inspiration for the day and her invaluable help both before and on the day itself.

To set the scene for the day, APTE and TEAN were indebted to: Dr Mel Rose, Head at Ben Jonson Primary, part of the London East Teacher Training Alliance (letta); and Jacquie Smith, Associate Headteacher at Lampton School, a DfE outstanding academy and teaching school in the London West Alliance. Our school colleagues set the scene for the day giving cameos of their partnership arrangements with the University of Cumbria and Roehampton University, respectively. Mel talked of exciting times for partnership - growing relationships with universities, developing the highest quality training together, shaping the next generation of outstanding teachers – and went on to show us actual portraits of some of those teachers. Jacquie spoke of the new challenges we all face. Where do we all fit in? We cannot go alone, she advised, there is a real need to collaborate. Trust between universities and schools is paramount; building relationships, working together, defining responsibilities.

Professor Anne Edwards

APTE and TEAN were delighted to welcome Professor Anne Edwards to present the keynote address. Anne is Professor of Educational Studies and Director of the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She also co-convenes the Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT). Her research centres on learning across the welfare professions and her work is located in cultural historical theory. Her recent publications centre on what she terms ‘the relational turn’ in expertise and focus on the exercise of relational agency in systems of distributed expertise such as partnership arrangements and children’s services. Anne addressed delegates on ‘Developing School – University Relationships through the Oxford Education Deanery’. ‘Relationships’ she told us was a better term at this time than ‘partnerships’, because we are still working on this ‘new partnership landscape’. This stimulating and inspiring talk reminded us that’ good partnerships work when you understand what is important to the others in the partnership’. In the past, opportunities were lost to make partnership work; hard work is needed for successful partnership, building on the different forms of expertise that school and university colleagues bring to the table.

Download Anne Edwards' PowerPoint

Dr Sue Pope and Rosa Archer

To continue the debate in the afternoon sessions, delegates attended presentations of case studies.

Dr Sue Pope and Rosa Archer (and on behalf of Siân Morgan) from the University of Manchester presented ‘Rethinking partnership in initial teacher education – developing professional identities for a new subject specialist team which includes a joint school-university appointment – a case study in mathematics’. How does a new team of mathematics educators (some with experience of other institutions) establish itself and ensure that previous strengths and successes are maintained and developed?

Download Sue Pope's PowerPoint

Dr d’Reen Struthers & James Burch

Dr d’Reen Struthers from Roehampton University (and on behalf of Simon Asquith, University of Birmingham) looked at the positions for HEI staff in this new landscape of partnership: ‘Carpe Diem: An exploration of the changing positions of HEI colleagues with the new ITE policy initiatives’.

James Burch from the University of Cumbria looked at ‘Developing Partnership through Third Space Activity’ and took us through a ‘perfect storm’ to offer us hope through the skilful ‘co-ordination of diversity’ (Davis and Sumara, 2001) within a context of ‘working together’, rather than merely ‘working with’. His colleague Dr Alison Jackson went on to describe a small scale research project based on James’ ideas.

The group debates during the day produced a lot of ideas and a synthesis of the key points. Download group notes.

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