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Collaborative Projects

Professional Development
Skills for Life Network

This year’s 4 collaborative projects are going from strength to strength and have benefited enormously from our much anticipated Project Lead Convention on 13th December where the leads were able to share and build on progress, with the invaluable 1:1 support of Joanne Miles. Full details of this event will be shared with you in our next APConnect communication, but the event included Myerscough College leading a session on how APs can support and realise the ambitions of the new EIF.

The 4 projects are:

Myerscough College in partnership with Barnsley College and Kendal College

Developing a ‘Culture of Excellence’ through collaboration

Bolton College with Hopwood Hall College

The Next Chapter – Great Teachers, Great Sharing 

Chesterfield College with Sandwell College, Lincoln College & Nottingham College 

Reclaiming the joy of teaching – developing happy, healthy capable, confident students and staff 

East Surrey College with John Ruskin College, Academy of Contemporary Music, Reigate School of Art & WEA

Building the capacity of the Advanced Practitioner role to drive quality improvement in pedagogical content knowledge across a diverse partnership collaboration

Two project events stand out in recent months:

  • 14th October: when 40 managers from Myerscough, Kendal and Barnsley Colleges met in Barnsley to take their ‘Developing a Culture of Excellence’ project forward. The day was led by Sue Keenan (Myerscough), Tam Breeze (Kendal) and Stef Wilkinson (Barnsley) and you can find a full blog from Advanced Practitioner Programme mentor, Colin Forrest, here 
  • 18th October: when APs from Bolton College and Hopwood Hall met to develop their ‘Great Teachers, Great Sharing’ project by building on their achievements in their year one project: ‘Good to Great’. 

Colin Forrest describes the day in Bolton:

“I had a wonderful time at the project event at Bolton College with Hopwood Hall on 18th October. The day was planned in considerable detail by Davina Polding and Angela Murray of Bolton College and Ashley Austin of Hopwood Hall and facilitated by Joanne Miles. The activities built on exploring how last year’s participants in ‘Good to Great’ are supporting the learning triangles and squares at the centre of year 2’s project. The day was split into two with the APs from the two colleges meeting in the morning before being joined by colleagues from the teaching triangles in the afternoon.

The event brought us an exciting blend of practice, contexts and perspectives. Though it was clear that approaches in the two partners were characterised by different cultures and personalities, the project has built on the powerful alliance fostered in year 1, thus enabling a genuinely collaborative approach.  A raft of activities, supporting resources and tools – notably Gibbs’ reflective cycle – were brought into play and gave evidence of the very positive conditions for the sharing of excellent practice within and between the two organisations. Challenges were always coupled with a wide range of solutions and remedies: a powerful combination for building confidence and self-efficacy in colleagues.

Year 1 activities formed the starting  point to the day and early discussions were grounded in previous learning.  The colleges had held events for this year’s approach. At Bolton this was a ‘learning festival’, and at Hopwood a ‘market place’.

New strategies emerging for the participants in the year 2 project included:

  • the creation of openness to other contexts
  • questioning if good is ‘good enough’
  • strengthening communications within and between teaching triangles and squares
  • using discussion boards to facilitate sharing 
  • using videos as less obtrusive ways of observing
  • using peer observations
  • previous participants from Year 1 supporting APs to share good practice with year 2 participants

The afternoon saw practitioners from triangles and square (s) in the two colleges joining the APs. Many new ideas were shared including the concept of ‘Cognitive Load’ and impacts on improving learning. Attendees were also introduced to how, for example, coherence and signalling were important in learning. This gave a sound platform for the afternoon discussions focussing on new approaches, the importance of experimentation and how to ‘pimp your lessons’ The blend of theoretical perspectives with the reflections of practitioners was also powerful and empowering. 

This was a remarkable day, one where the vision of round 2 became reality. The leadership of Davina, then co-ordination on the day by Angela, Ashley and Alison, supported by Joanne, meant that participants were taken individually and together into new and exciting spaces. 


We are delighted to announce that all 4 collaborative projects will lead workshops at our National Conference in March 2020! This will enable even wider sharing of the AP transformative vision and is testimony to the huge benefits reaped from our collaborative work. 

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