Over 2,500 teachers and trainers have been involved in Professional Exchange Networks

Blog by Dr Catherine Manning, National Head of Practitioner Research and Development at the Education and Training Foundation, about the Professional Exchange Networks.

Please note that Professional Exchange Networks (PENs) are no longer active. Our Professional Development page details our current professional development resources, programmes and activities.

Professional Exchange Networks (PENs), from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), are regional hubs where groups of practitioners reflect on their own practice, share resources and expertise, and collaborate to find solutions to challenges they have identified.

So far, over 2,500 teachers and trainers have been involved nationwide, from every sector of the Further Education (FE) community.

Typically, practitioners come along with an idea of what they want to develop, learn or improve, and join up with others who are facing the same issue.

Groups might undertake some action research, design resources or explore new approaches to teaching and learning. They decide how they want to operate, perhaps through informal face-to-face meetings, cross-organisational peer-observation, online exchanges or webinars. Links are made to the Professional Standards.

Groups are supported by the ETF’s regional delivery partners who help share with the wider sector findings and any new resources produced.

Three profiles of Professional Exchanges:

East Midlands ETF Professional Exchange (PEN) Network

The East Midlands PEN, managed by Skills and Education Group on behalf on the ETF, focuses on Teaching Learning and Assessment.


Visit the East Midlands Professional Exchange Padlet Wall for the PEN’s collaboration information.

PD North

PD North is the home of the Northern Professional Exchange, managed by ccConsultancy on behalf of the ETF.

To join an exchange, contact Kathryn: Kathryn.semple@sky.com

Joining PD North will enable you to share and develop your practice from your own and other organisations. The PEN currently has 13 exchanges around the North of England:

  • North West: Maths, English, Teaching, Learning & Assessment (TLA) & Creative Writing
  • Yorkshire & Humberside: Maths, English, Professional Development
  • North East & Cumbria: Apprenticeships, Early Years, Digital, Health & Social Care, Prevent & Safeguarding
  • We also have a virtual exchange focusing on Practitioner Action Research.

Additionally, PDNorth has a twice monthly CPD newsletter (subscribe here!), a Youtube channel, an open blog and a Twitter account (@PDNorth1720). For social comms and other queries, contact Chloë: ChloeH@pdnorth.org.uk

Sussex and Hampshire PEN 

The PEN is managed by FE Sussex, to join an exchange contact Tim Strickland, tim@fesussex.org.uk.

Exchange groups:

  • English and maths
  • Quality Improvement
  • Safeguarding
  • Maths and English (Hampshire specific)

Each of the above groups meet at least once per term either face to face or via an interactive webinar. In the case of the former, meetings for Sussex colleges are generally held at Plumpton College (near Brighton). For Hampshire colleges meetings are usually held at Fareham College. Colleagues from FE colleges, from independent training providers and adult education are encouraged to attend meetings.

Meetings took the form of information exchange and discussion groups with agendas and topics set by the members. Members asked for external speakers and representatives of external organisations to attend most meetings. Typically, this included Ofsted, awarding organisation specialist advisors or demonstrators of new technology.

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