On Thursday 10 October, nearly 40 managers from Myserscough, Kendal and Barnsley Colleges met in Barnsley to take forward the Education and Training Foundation Advanced Practitioner (AP) project ‘Developing a Culture of Excellence through Collaboration’. The ETF has funded four collaborative projects as part of its Professional Development Programme for APs during 2019–2020. The day was led by Sue Keenan (Myerscough), Tam Breeze (Kendal) and Stef Wilkinson (Barnsley). Advanced Practitioner Programme Mentor Colin Forrest reports on the day and previews the 2020 national APP Conference, which takes place in Birmingham on 27 March.
The first session, led by Sue, took us through thoughts on the Education Inspection Framework following the first few weeks of its implementation. The narrative was rich in metaphor, from Pollock to Orwell with a froth of candy floss on the way. Sue created a powerful and authentic picture of what ‘Intent’, ‘Implementation’ and ‘Impact’ look like in reality. The participants warmed to discussing their own practice through these new lenses. A sense of pride quickly filled the room as realisation dawned that the inspectorate’s fresh expectations bought with them significant potential to expose the rich learner journeys that Advanced Practitioners (APs) and their managers in the three colleges are expertly facilitating.
Tam explored with us the six themes and key principles that frame Barnsley’s Teaching and Learning strategies through the engaging session ‘Lived or Laminated’. Things got off to a thoughtful start when participants were invited to consider how much of their time as managers was spent on teaching and learning. Ten per cent emerged as a consensus. In exploring this dynamic, participants worked with a wide range of colleagues in drawing out the values within each theme and reconstructing these for their own settings. This resulted in a powerful set of new thinking.
In the closing session, Stef spoke about how understanding ‘brave leadership’ fosters collaboration through challenging cultural norms. She encouraged colleagues to bring ‘things that you are not OK with’ into discussions about teaching and learning and to give careful attention to how patterns of behaviour are central to defining cultures within organisations. However, Stef went further – much further – by inviting colleagues to consider how taking ideas into practice and evaluating them has potential to create a sustainable narrative that brings rich rewards for learners and teachers alike.
So, a remarkable day, a game changer. The event started with a focus on curriculum, explored strategy in action, and concluded with the importance of culture change. New interactions were created, and existing relationships deepened. The shared values and vision of Stef, Sue and Tam created conditions that encouraged diverse and colourful understandings of ‘excellence’ to emerge. Aspiration, authenticity and action became the leitmotif for the project. It is clear that deep and sustainable impacts lie ahead.
This year’s collaborative projects built on 15 projects that were funded last year to evaluate the AP’s role. You can access case studies from last year’s projects here. This year, the focus is on how the four collaborative projects extend, enhance and embed AP roles within their organisation to develop the quality of education.
Final reports and case studies will be available on the Excellence Gateway in Spring 2020. Project leads will also be sharing their findings at this year’s national APP Conference, which takes place on 27 March 2020 in central Birmingham. Bookings for those external to the programme are now open. We expect places to book out fast – they did last year! The team will also be showcasing a new AP Guide: ‘How managers can support and develop Advanced Practitioners – an organisational approach’. This guide complements the existing suite of Guides and resources designed specifically for APs.
The 2019–2020 collaborative projects are:
Advanced Practitioner Mentor