Commentary

Partnership working with Education Development Trust – what does this really look like?

Niki Thomas
Dr. Jim Rogers

As we set out on a new and exciting role as a lead provider for the reformed National Professional Qualifications in England, Jim and Niki reflect on ambitions and aspirations for partnership in this important work.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. At Education Development Trust, we have been implementing, refining and perfecting school-led, partnership-based models in our programmes in England and Wales for some time.  We have been able to scale this approach to ensure that the benefits are felt consistently by all the schools we work with.

But we haven’t achieved this alone. Working with partners who share our values and philosophy, we have learned a great deal about maximising the value of collaborative approaches and making partnerships work.

So, what does partnership actually mean to us, and what would your experience be? First and foremost, we are interested in genuine, reciprocal, and inclusive partnerships. We believe we can learn as much from you as you can gain from us as a national Lead Provider. We have deliberately created opportunities for input and engagement at every level, from content design and testing through to developing inclusive governance structures and QA processes.

What sort of an NPQ delivery network do we want to grow?

The delivery partner network is pivotal to the success of our work with the DfE on teacher and leader development. It is important, therefore, we get the network right. There are some key characteristics of our approach which we believe will contribute to effective and sustainable partnership working.

Accessible – We want to ensure that all teachers and leaders have access to high quality, affordable professional development. Our programmes aim to cover all regions of the country, creating thriving local and regional networks, and making NPQs accessible for schools in a wide range of contexts. We are bringing schools together into networks made up of schools and school groups of all types, as we recognise that schools can learn from others’ experiences of approaching similar challenges in very different ways.

Practical – We recognise the time pressures on participants and want to work with our partners to offer flexible provision. Getting balance in blended learning right will help. We also will be ensuring that our content is focussed on transferring theory into practice so that teachers and leaders can immediately implement their learning.

Locally owned, a place-based approach – We know our delivery partners will bring valuable local, contextual knowledge and therefore we want to ensure that there is opportunity to adapt and complement materials to local need and use appropriately trained local facilitators. We do not believe a ‘one-size fits all’ approach will work. We expect our delivery partners to bring the NPQs to life! Content, and materials are developed together by our expert teams and delivery partners at every level. We will support our delivery partners with high-quality central expertise, with supporting regional and national training sessions, along with webinars, ‘train the trainer’ workshops, and constructive, improvement-focused quality assurance.

Supported – So that our delivery partners can focus on quality delivery, we have designed systems to keep communications and participant management simple and efficient for all. The user interface and ease of accessibility is important here both for participants and you as a delivery partner. We shoulder the administrative burden. We also have a fabulous, friendly, problem-solving central team. We will get to know each other, and this personal relationship is priceless.

Flexible – All our partnerships are based on complementary strengths, recognising the expertise brought by each partner and ensuring that changes are made by those best placed to do so. If you require additional support with marketing, communication, planning, facilitation, we will provide it, and help you build capacity where you need it.

Go beyond training – We have high expectations of our delivery partners in relation to the local cultures of professional development they create. We want to work with partners who are able to bring a rich and exciting professional development offer beyond the minimum expectations set by the Department for Education. We will add value, supporting the facilitators and directors of your partnership with people with a proven track-record and experience doing the same roles, we expect you to add value too.

A fresh perspective – Both the ECF and NPQ reforms present a huge opportunity to invest in the profession in a way we have never done before. We are hugely excited by this, and through our existing partnerships and expertise, and that which we harness through our wider delivery partners, we are creating research-informed, engaging and innovative approaches to developing expertise through the NPQs.

If you lead a Teaching School Hub, a Multi-academy Trust or are involved in another school network, and you'd like to talk to us about joining our Delivery Partnership network, get in touch with the UK Partners team below.

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