Enhancing partnership working in teacher education

by Tom Greene, Project Advisor and Joanna Holmes, Project Leader, West Partnership. Continuing our guest blog series featuring Informed Scotland subscribers writing on the theme Making connections across the learning & skills landscape.

Following the publication of Teaching Scotland’s Future in 2011, universities and local authorities were invited by Scottish Government to bid for funding which would progress some, if not all of the recommendations made by Prof Graham Donaldson in his report.

Consequently in late 2013 the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde and nine local authorities – East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire – submitted a bid.

It requested financial support to appoint a small team which would operate across the consortium to facilitate and enhance partnership working between the stakeholders.

The work of the project team has been directed by an operational group consisting of representatives of both universities and our nine local authorities, with additional support from the professional associations. As well as outlining the scope of the project, a first task for the stakeholders was to come up with a suitable name for the group; and so it was that West Partnership was established.

Initially a strategic vision for the partnership was created. This vision enabled the process of achieving short term gains but also stressed the long term possibilities, particularly with respect to sustainability which the project team might or should address going forward.

Taking our lead from the operational group, but also acting on our own initiative, we set out to research partnership working around the country and beyond to establish whether or not lessons learned elsewhere could have a positive impact on what we were trying to do.

Moreover we worked assiduously to link to and network with other university partnership projects, as well as with a range of other stakeholders including Scottish Government, General Teaching Council for Scotland, Scottish Teacher Education Committee, Education Scotland and Teacher Education Reference Group.

So what have we achieved as a partnership project team? Amongst other things:

  • We held a conference for over 50 stakeholders to agree and act on short term targets.
  • We have aligned documentation for the PGDE (Postgraduate Diploma in Education) which will be used by both universities and all local authorities for assessment of placement of students from both establishments.
  • We have agreed common language, placement timings and dates for PGDE.
  • We have showcased our work around the country.
  • We have worked to bring harmonisation across our authorities to NQT (newly qualified teacher) activities in the induction year.
  • We participated in the Aspect Review of partnership working carried out by Education Scotland.

We believe that West Partnership has made significant progress in facilitating partnership working in teacher education as recommended in Teaching Scotland’s Future; however, much of what we are doing is nascent.

We feel that short term gains have been made but suggest that innovative, sustainable change to teacher learning requires a national approach which emphasises connectedness around the country. The fragmented approach which appears to be the norm at this time, involving partnerships working in isolation from one another, militates against collaboration and cooperation in a wider sense.

For further information contact [email protected]
www.westpartnership.org.uk   Twitter @WestPartnership

Read previous guest blogs in the series, including those from EDT Scotland, SCQF Partnership, UCAS, UKCES and SQA.

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