In the dark days of winter it is easy to overlook the fact that a lot of work is going on in the background and that teachers are quietly beavering away at their tasks while often, and this sounds terrible, the leadership team look on, engaged with more pressing issues. Of course, leadership does not have to be constant and hectoring: the best leaders trust their colleagues to get on with things. However, it is always useful to remind staff of the end point and to look ahead towards the next thing.
It was therefore with a quiet sense of excitement that I begun putting together the plan for our second Trio Presentation Evening. Last year’s event was was excellent and it is definitely something we want to repeat. The most pleasing aspect was the intense focus on pedagogy and it was a pleasure to see the excitement and enjoyment that the teachers involved had clearly derived from participating in their Trios. Partly this was down to the revivifying experience of simply working with someone from another school but it was also due to a real sense of engagement with educational research and cutting edge practice.
In our second year of the project, there are more teachers involved in Trios, though setting this up has once again not been easy. Establishing links across schools, clearing things with disparate leadership teams, ensuring that time is made available, quibbling over funding support etc. etc. makes the task seem almost impossible sometimes. However, the enthusiasm of those who took part in Year 1 carried the day and we now have a growing level of support across the alliance for this type of interaction.
Once again, securing commitment from Primary colleagues has proved to be the weak link. I have written before about the ‘too busy’ culture, and though I acknowledge the difficulties of providing cover for colleagues in small schools, this is a problem which can easily be overcome. The real problem is persuading primary colleagues that this is a powerful form of professional development. The three or four primary schools who have become key players in the project are now becoming frustrated that colleagues from other primary schools can not find the time to take part. Consequently, the secondary aspect of the Presentation day programme is complete; the Primary element still undecided.
An interesting aspect of the programme this year is the decision to kick off the evening with a brief talk from one of the first cohort of Trio leaders. The aim here is to show that Trio work is supposed to keep developing; it is not a one off event which is enjoyed then forgotten. Experience of working in a Trio should encourage colleagues to continue to work in collaborative ways, and it should also act a catalyst for similar developments in their own schools. This year Sara Sawtell from Budmouth will kick off the event by exploring the impact her Trio work has had both on her own practice and the work of her school.
This will be followed by presentations from Trios who began work in January 2014 and those due to start in the spring. We also hope to include some feedback from a new collaborative venture at Woodroffe this year, namely pairs of Year Heads who have chosen to work jointly on small scale research projects as part of their continuing staff development.
Hopefully, it should be a very successful event and encourage further participation the year after. The draft programme is attached.
In addition, this year we plan to ask all Trios to provide us with a brief summary of their research following a common format in order to ensure that outcomes are recorded, developed and disseminated.
It should be a great event.