Our end-of-project conference, held in Birmingham, was a fitting and well-deserved celebration of the tremendous work carried out by the range of cross-sector, institutional collaborations, and an opportunity to bring together all APs, including those following our CPD and Communities of Practice strands.
All of the presentations delivered in the conference workshops together with an electronic version of the conference booklet can be viewed and downloaded from the course Padlet. This Padlet also contains resources and links to much of the content delivered through the 3-day AP CPD, taught programme. Also, Joanne Miles shares her reflections on the national AP Conference in her blog. Joanne worked on the national programme in an advisory role, and also trained programme mentors and led training for Project Leads as part of the collaborative projects.
During the morning, four groups of delegates each engaged directly with a suite of three projects and, in the afternoon, reformed into small Action Learning Sets to share those experiences (and their reflection on them) with 3 other colleagues from the other morning groups. This enabled everyone to become familiar with a significant sample of the work carried out by APs and organisations over the last year.
During the afternoon, we heard some personal experiences from delegates engaged in our Communities of Practice programme strand. We also observed them demonstrating a powerful Thinking Environment technique, giving them uninterrupted ‘airspace’ to express their ‘freshest thinking’ in an environment of mutual respect and appreciation.
This also brought the concept of the Bowerbird to the audience, which is a metaphor for how to create a transformative narrative out of the reflective and qualitative ‘stuff’ that tends to get left out of a data-driven model of practice evaluation.
All our APs, including those who were part of the Communities of Practice strand, engaged in ‘small-scale’ quality improvement projects within their organisations. CoP APs in addition developed their AP role through networking, and online support, involving:
- attending a virtual induction session where they met the wider CoP community as well as members of their action learning set;
- regular action learning set meetings facilitated through a range of digital technologies including but not limited to Zoom, Skype, Big Blue Button (via Canvas);
- a structured programme of activities arranged in seven online learning modules, delivered via Canvas, with the award of digital badges upon completion:
- M1: Knowing You, Knowing Us
- M2: Your Project
- M3: Professional Standards
- M4: Action Learning Sets
- M5: Matrix of Opportunities
- M6: Connecting APs event
- M7: Who are your People?
- a face-to-face event in response to AP demand.
The conclusion, here, is clear: APs need and value the opportunity to network and mutually reinforce their confidence and professional identity, whilst keeping up-to-date with effective practice, useful approaches and perspectives beyond the culture and practices of their employing organisation. It is not surprising, therefore, that we recommend that APs are enabled to continue to do this, beyond this programme, and we urge you to do just that.