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Better together: Collaboration is key to professional learning

Better together: Sharing our expertise makes financial sense but it’s also the best way for the profession to learn

A report by the Teacher Development Trust has highlighted a fall in spending by schools on staff development.

The analysis found that the amount schools earmarked for CPD had fallen for the first time since 2012 with budgets down 12 per cent in secondaries and 7 per cent in primaries.

It’s a problem but there may be creative solutions to it which, perhaps, we have yet to explore fully as a profession.

In particular, we could think more laterally about how we share our own expertise – and not only with colleagues but around the school system.

At BlueSky, this is something we see as a fundamental driver of improvement which has been a part of our system to schools for some time. We believe that enabling schools to tap into the knowledge, skills and experience of their colleagues – both within their own school or trust and across the BlueSky network – is vital to raising standards.

Collaboration is key

BlueSky is designed to support just this kind of joint working.

Some 5,500 collaborative projects have been undertaken through the Projects area and every school can share its profile and expertise across the networks.

In individual schools and across trusts, it enables staff to see where there is outstanding practice and where they might seek support from other colleagues or departments, whether it’s in MFL or KS1 phonics or management functions such as planning or in middle leadership.

Schools can also make their profile public on the system for other BlueSky members to see. They can promote it nationally, regionally or locally or to schools grouped by size or setting. So a school could be actively offering to share its particular expertise with others, wherever it thinks collaboration might work. It can then contact that school, via BlueSky, and have the conversation.

In difficult times, changing how we approach CPD means thinking differently. To maintain high standards in the classroom, teachers need high-quality professional development but that does not necessarily mean external training courses and complex development programmes.

We need to find simple and effective methods for exchanging or bartering schools’ own skills and services. That way, people can learn from the best – their fellow professionals – and the money can remain within the system.

There is a huge reservoir of knowledge and experience in our colleagues and professional networks to tap into.

Now is the time to capitalise on it.

Tamsin Denley

Author: Denise Inwood,
CEO and Founder

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