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Communities of Practice

Professional Development
Skills for Life Network

September is here and the three AP ‘Communities of Practice’ constellations are gearing up for the new year.

Mentor relationships between (aspiring) Constellation A APs and more experienced colleagues are particularly flourishing, with exciting initiatives emerging that amplify their work of changing cultures and improving quality. Mentoring support focuses particularly on how to cope with new technology, organising and prioritising workloads, managing challenging behaviour, having difficult conversations, dealing with resistance and how to support new staff. Our AP Guides address many of these topics. 

constellation B

For Constellation B (extending) APs, the summer has allowed for plenty of reflection time which extends participants’ thinking and enables their quality improvement projects to gather pace in the new academic year. Collaboration, for this constellation, focuses on preparing for the Education Inspection Framework, developing colleagues to take on new ideas/approaches in TLA, getting staff to try out new technologies and improving classroom management. 

Meanwhile, Constellation C (amplifying) APs are embracing Twitter with enthusiasm and extending the AP voice to ever new and vibrant platforms. We’ll be keeping you posted with stories from their practice over the coming months but read on for a taste of what’s happening.

The Bowerbird Reports

bower bird

The Bowerbird has been hopping around #APConnect’s digital spaces to see what you have been up to – he doesn’t want any of your brilliant work to end up on the cutting room floor! He’s delighted to report that, even over the summer break, APs are continuing to think, create and connect up with one another.


The ReImagineFE conference is one of the biggest events in #FE’s calendar and it was wonderful to see a significant #APConnect presence there in July. APs led workshops, contributed to culture-changing discussions and even found one another during the networking breaks. How about a Bowerbird pin for next year’s conference round?

Creative Exchange

APs Jan Calvert (Shipley College) and Matt Gordon (Waltham Forest College) are exploring a shared love of Victorian literature in a digital exchange with learners from both colleges. Observing how young people use social media to both communicate and hide, Jan and Matt are using webinars to bring two groups of learners into one another’s orbit. They hope to extend the project by visiting one another in the real world, giving Yorkshire students the chance to explore Victorian Walthamstow and the London team a trip to philanthropic Saltaire.

From Fear to Faith

Lincoln College have been part of various strands of #APConnect from the start and they’ve used the opportunity to transform the College’s quality improvement culture. Sally Reeve, Gavin Knox and Simon Justice ran the ‘From Fear to Faith’ workshop at this year’s ReImagineFE conference and they’ve had the joy and satisfaction of hearing back from delegates who are already changing the way quality is viewed within their own organisations. The Bowerbird very much hopes Sally, Gav and Simon can be persuaded to write up ‘From Fear to Faith’ in the Bower Writing Rooms!

Restorative Practice

restorative practice

Restorative approaches to behaviour management have been finding a foothold in further education and training, following successful trials in schools. Via the digital webs of #APConnect’s constellations, APs who are interested in these approaches are finding one another and forming critical friendships. The Bowerbird loves it when this happens! As the new academic year begins, he’ll be looking for more of these patterns and introducing APs together who have this – or something else – in common.


An aspiration of Constellation C was to get everyone on Twitter and the Bowerbird is delighted to report that there has been some real enthusiasm for this. There’s lots of help available and all we are asking for is open minds – try and find a purpose for it during this year and if you don’t, it’s fine to fly away! Not only have a number of ‘twitter virgins’ (their words, not the Bowerbird’s) got started, they are also planning regular take-overs of the hugely popular #UKFEChat on Thursdays at 9pm. So, dust off your twitter handle and join us, starting this September.

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