As each of the Trio groups prepares for the presentation evening tomorrow, it is perhaps worth reflecting on the impact of the Trio programme on the Alliance. Trios were set up initially to provide the glue to bind the alliance together and, to some extent, this has happened. I was initially disappointed by the uptake – I was naively expecting virtually all schools to want to get involved – but in many ways the more modest number of Trios has allowed us to set up the system more effectively. It has also generated a great deal of excitement which, I am sure, will encourage other colleagues to take part in the next round.
We currently have two strong groups – the primary/secondary Trios based around Woodroffe and the new cross-alliance Trios which range across the partnership. It will be interesting to see from the presentations whether these two groups have worked in different ways.
They key aspect of all this, however, is the approach to drawing alliance schools together since this distinguishes us from other Teaching School Alliances. By the very nature of the scheme, setting up a TS alliance involves a great deal of contact between the heads, principals and SLTs of the various schools; in the JCTSA, we have developed a system whereby the contact at classroom level is the most important feature of our practice. Of course, SLT links are vital but so is the teacher to teacher contact behind Trio working. Thus we have a Top Down and Bottom up approach which hopefully will allow the schools in the partnership to work together in a much more genuine way.
As I know from speaking to colleagues in other alliances, one of the first questions schools considering joining an alliance ask is, ‘What’s in it for me?’ The contact provided by teacher to teacher research and CPD provides a powerful answer. If the teachers involved see the value of being part of an alliance then that’s half the battle.
Hopefully, following the presentations, to which the heads of all alliance schools are invited, there will be a renewed interest in the programme, giving us the impetus to expand the Trios for next year. We already have plans for our Cultural Trios, linking teachers with practioners from the cultural sector, but it would be good to try and involved at least one person from every school in the alliance.