During May, Professional Exchange Network PD North came together with the Education and Training Foundation’s CPD programme Shaping Success, to generate a refreshed series of practitioner-focused ‘how to/why to’ events across the North of England – Exchanging Success. If you missed out, you can experience some of the events’ buzz via the Twitter hashtag #ExchangingSuccess19.
This was a new blend of PD North’s emphasis on grassroots practitioner research with the high-quality maths, English and digital CPD opportunities Shaping Success has become renowned for. This combination of ‘tried and tested’ practitioner knowledge with cutting-edge maths, English and digital expertise enabled the formation of deeply pragmatic, knowledge-rich, learner-centred ‘constellations of practice’ (Mycroft and Sidebottom, 2018). In such spaces, whether face-to-face or virtual, inclusive and innovative approaches to teaching and learning are able to flourish, because practitioners ask ‘why to’ – as well as ‘how to’ – about approaches that engage and inspire learners, build confidence, support success and champion achievement, in all its diverse and wonderful ways.
Each day began with an exploration of trust and mistrust in FE, and how ‘mechanisms can be put in place to support and grow a culture of trust within our organisations’ (Donovan, 2019). Then followed a dynamic menu of workshops: post-16 phonics to maths mastery to the use of virtual reality (VR) for creative writing. At every turn, there were fresh opportunities to network, share knowledge and generate ideas. A policy briefing, delivered PechaKucha style, embodied our commitment to reimagining CPD; it was met with applause and laughter, sparking critically-engaged discussions which ran through the day.
Above all, Exchanging Success gave busy practitioners the opportunity to connect and critically engage with practice, with policy, with FE’s political landscape. This generated space for reflection and space for action, an opportunity to become engaged, proactive architects of FE policy and practice. New constellations of practice were formed and existing partnerships invigorated in a collaborative exchange of knowledge, ideas and creative practice that placed hopeful, inclusive, learner-centred praxis at the heart of FE.