29 Jan 2020

Communities of Practice

The impact of engagement in the three #APConnect ‘constellations of practice’ is really starting to show, as we enter the year of the industrious Rat. In Chinese astrology, rats are quick, clever and productive. Like APs, they are brilliant at working in challenging spaces.

There is beginning to be a real sense of APs as the ‘engine room’ of change in FE. Having experienced the transformational potential of Thinking Environment processes during their AP training with touchconsulting ltd, they are leading a quiet revolution. Classrooms, meetings and CPD settings are being re-shaped as places where everyone is a thinker and where affirmative new ideas can be brought forward in an environment of listening and respect.  

The impact of this is palpable; our challenge now is to evidence and amplify changes as they happen. We’ll be letting you know how we progress in subsequent editions of the #APConnect newsletter.

constellations of practice

The Bowerbird Reports

bower bird
The Bowerbird has been hopping around #APConnect’s digital spaces to see what APs have been up to. He is tripping over glittering sapphires, there are so many of them under his tiny feet.

#APSouth Conference

APs from Constellation C are putting final preparations in place for their AP-led conference at South Essex College (Thurrock) on 6th March 2020, in partnership with the East of England Professional Exchange Network (PEN). The day will be introduced by Christina Donovan, whose work around trust and mistrust in FE is the perfect dancing partner for #ThinkingEnvironment work. At the heart of the day are quality improvement workshops facilitated by Advanced Practitioners, based on evidenced practice from their own work. Lou Mycroft will be telling stories from the #APConnect Quality Improvement Movement and where Lou goes, the Bowerbird is sure to follow. Look out for him tweeting from the event.

Meanwhile, in the north, a grassroots AP movement is already underway. On 28th February, Sheffield College will host the third Yorkshire and Humber AP Network, sponsored by #APConnect. Constellation C stalwarts Stef Wilkinson and Steve Spence are part of the organising team, alongside Lee Dennis from Barnsley College. This follows the hugely successful Halesowen #FEResearchMeet, hosted by the force of nature that is Constellation C’s Annie Pendrey, with plenty of AP support. #APConnect was always about Advanced Practitioners doing it for themselves and we just love this evidence of the rhizome at work. The Bowerbird’s work here is done. 

#APConnect Press Success!

Speaking of Annie, she was recently interviewed by Sarah Simons for TES FE. Annie’s brand of creative self-reflection has brought her effective Early Years practice of many years into the public gaze and it’s no surprise to see her leading the charge on Twitter to gather Early Years practitioners together under the hashtag #EYTwitterTagTeam.

Hashtags may seem little in the scheme of things, but they are an effective way of networking educators who care about their practice but may not be engaged together in formal structures. A glance at the #EYTwitterTagTeam hashtag reveals in-depth discussions about policy, qualifications and professional status. If APs are the engine room of change, they are also the leaders of tomorrow, cutting their teeth on the dialogues they are having as a consequence of #APConnect.


As we mentioned above, many APs are leading culture change via Thinking Environment processes, which enable people to think for themselves and think better together. Early in January, as the Wolf Moon was rising, past and present APs gathered with colleagues from across FE at Burton-on-Trent for Thinking Environment facilitator training. It was such an encouraging and easeful day and there were many lightbulb moments in the beautiful art deco surroundings of the Mercure Newton Park hotel.

mecure newton park hotel


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