The initial aim of the Trio project was to provide the glue to bind the various institutions in the Teaching Alliance together, to break down barriers, to create trust and simply to become familiar with working with one another. Now that the work is underway, it is clear that the mutual support built into the trio system has wider implications and could well become the alliance’s operational paradigm.
At the most recent JCTSA Steering Group, the emerging trio network was discussed, the initial training evaluated and the hopes for the future considered. The responses were very positive. The headteachers involved were happy with new system and very impressed by the enthusiasm of the staff involved. The notion of working together to provide mutual support is clearly an exciting proposition. This led to a wider discussion and two interesting developments which could be said to related directly to the ideas behind the trio programme:
- While considering financial issues – charging policies and rates, etc. – the group worked towards the conclusion that it wouldn’t be particularly productive to charge schools within the alliance for the various services we planned to offer. It was therefore agreed that we would work according to a system of mutual exchange. If school A needs support or advice in one area, it should be given free of charge on the understanding that if school B required support in a different area the favour would be returned. This is essentially a cost neutral system which has a wide range of benefits: the schools get the support they need, colleagues get to work in other schools and become more familiar with one another, expertise is shared and barriers are broken down. In addition, staff hone the skills they will need to work in schools outside of the alliance where there will be a charge for their services.
- The discussion of the fledgling Trio programme led to thoughts about the Outstanding Facilitator Programme. This is something the alliance has considered but has shied away from because of the expense. However, it quickly became clear that colleagues were keen to do it and saw it as another way of offering in-house CPD and further support. It was therefore agreed that the Lead school would fund the training of three staff who would work together, trio style, further to develop outstanding teaching across the local area.
The current level of cooperation is very heartening as colleagues are beginning to see the benefits of mutual exchange. We will need to see how things progress but the initial signs are very encouraging.