#APConnect: Programme reflections

#APConnect is a professional development programme for those operating in Advanced Practitioner (AP)-type roles across the Further Education and Training sector. It is commissioned and funded by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF). Alison Tanik of touchconsulting Ltd, the organisation that delivers the programme on behalf of the ETF, reflects on recent activity and explains how to get involved.

Looking backwards, looking forwards

We are excited to share video-reflections from practitioners who’ve participated in the ETF’s Professional Development Programme for Advanced Practitioners over the past couple of years.

We kick off with Alison Loughnane from Hopwood Hall College. Alison shares her reflections with Stef Wilkinson. The pair discuss Alison’s experiences of the three-day ‘Developing APs’ face-to-face CPD (June 2018), professional learning squares and the rich outcomes and long-lasting impact of the College’s collaborative project with Bolton College – ‘Good to Great’. She said it was “…the best CPD I’ve ever been on in my life. It was fantastic. I learnt so much. I met so many people.”

Alison started her AP-type role in 2018 with six hours remission and is now operating in her dream role of 0.5 AP and 0.5 teaching. The team at touchconsulting is thrilled to have been part of her journey.

You can read more about facilitating professional development in our AP Guide and access a Professional Teaching Squares overview from the AP Toolkit.

#FEMidlandsETF: Practice Development Groups (PDGs)

Are you a Midlands practitioner keen to inquire into your maths/English practice with a community of peers? Join us in January 2021…

The team at touchconsulting Ltd would love to work with you as part of the Education and Training Foundation’s fully subsidised round 2 Practice Development Groups (PDG) programme, starting January 2021.

What are PDGs?

PDGs sit firmly within practitioner-led enquiry and are driven by participants who work collaboratively to undertake a maths/English inquiry related to their practice. Teachers plan, do and review; regrouping and discussing what worked (and didn’t) with their PDG peers, and then go again. Each PDG will be run by an experienced facilitator.

PDG facilitators

PDGs are run by an amazing team of 16 facilitators – all practicing teachers. They have already flexed their muscles running PDGs during round 1. We’ve had some brilliant feedback from participants and astute reflections from our facilitators. But don’t take our word for it:

“I’ve learnt more from our session (PDG) than any other ESOL forum I’ve been to.”

“Was great to meet other practitioners and to be able to share ideas and experiences.”

“I will certainly be trying out some of the ideas around online quizzes to encourage engagement.”

“Best CPD I’ve had for online learning.”

Feedback on ESOL Practice Development Group run by Isla Flood and Katie Sharpe, November 2020.


Sarbjit Borrill, our ACL East Midlands facilitator, reflected recently on how group members really appreciated placing a magnifying glass on their practice and discussing the micro-tweaks they could make. This focus on the granular is so important. I remember planning a session on sub-questions with my colleague, Annmarie Higgins, for the CfEM action research CPD. It was face-to-face! We spent ages getting the detail right. I was bothered the example we were using would get in the way of the key point we were trying to make. Yes, planning time feels like a luxury, but it is so important to thrash out these details for our learners – be it for face-to-face or/and online spaces. And if you can plan, discuss and debate with a colleague – that’s the icing on the cake! Join us for exactly this kind of set-up in January 2021.


Each facilitator will run a Practice Development Group in round 2 within their organisation or across the Midlands. We’ll kick off with our 27 Jan 2021 launch event. Each PDG will have a common focus and the five members (+ facilitator) will meet approximately four times from January–April 2021, as well as participating in an April celebration event. Meetings will last approximately 1.5 hours and take place fully online, face-to-face or in a combination of the two.

If you want to join a Practice Development Group we can do some ‘matching-up’ depending upon your area of interest. PDGs will be focusing on a range of inquiries including:

  • Maths in vocational FE
  • Digital approaches to maths
  • English: digital storytelling
  • English in FE
  • English for apprentices
  • Online learner engagement
  • Digital feedback
  • ESOL
  • Social purpose curriculum
  • Online collaboration
  • Developing maths and English in sports.
Share this article: