Reading College has been announced as a Beacon Award winner for a scheme which encourages staff to undertake professional development.
The prestigious Beacon Award for Staff Development in Further Education is sponsored by City & Guilds and it was given to Reading College for its ‘Pass It On’ scheme, which allows staff to learn through web-based technology as well as a range of other options including bitesize breakfast sessions, Bravery in Teaching fortnights and digital magazines.
The award judges were impressed by the impact this work had on improving the performance of students as well as staff.
The Awards are given by the Association of Colleges, the membership organisation for further education colleges, to colleges which demonstrate excellent teaching and innovative thinking in the further education sector when it comes to creating positive opportunities for both staff and students.
Catherine Bush, Head of Projects at City & Guilds, said: “The winner of the Staff Development Award is an inspiring example of a programme that provides a wide range of development opportunities and support for staff in creative and innovative ways.
“The programme reinforces the importance of the capability, motivation and commitment of staff in delivery of high quality teaching and learning.”
Pass It On is a bottom-up approach to CPD, built upon the foundations of ‘share, learn and inspire’. In a bid to move away from CPD that was costly and had little to no impact on staff and student behaviours, it was important for us to establish a brand new way of working that would:
Encourage staff to engage with development in creative ways.
Celebrate success and enable honest conversations about learning.
We took a Design Thinking approach to establishing what Pass It On would look and feel like and you can view a timeline of the steps we took here.
It was vital that CPD opportunites extended to everyone and were varied so that they would appeal to all staff. These opportunities included:
- Bitesize sessions
- Open classrooms
- Teaching & Learning Conference
- External opportunities
- Collaborative and showcase events
- Resource sharing
- New Starter Essentials
Quotes from a report on shaping the future of CPD really summarise the ethos of Pass It On:
‘Enable sharing of practice in a non-judgemental culture, which also acknowledges the importance of informed risk taking.’
‘We must prioritise CPD even though it may never be the most urgent thing on the list.’
‘We develop practice knowledge effectively when we feel safe to take risks and when we do work collaboratively with people we trust enough to expose our professional vulnerabilities.’
‘The thing that helps professional learning mean something to teachers is when it starts from aspirations about young people’s learning.
If clarity about how we want our pupils’ learning to look if our own learning is successful, is woven all the way through like a golden thread, and if the learning process involves revisiting evidence about how their own learning connects with young people’s learning then the learning will be richer and more inspiring AND we’ll be much better at evaluating the impact.’
Some quotes from staff about Pass It On CPD:
‘Pass It On has improved working relationships with colleagues across the college and broken down the silos that existed before. It has empowered me to share my teaching, learning and assessment strategies and validated these through feedback hence improving my confidence.’
‘It has enabled a continuous dialogue of teaching, learning and assessment which is vital for teachers’ ongoing reflection and development. Teachers are talking about teaching and learning more than ever before and the programme has injected a more positive and ambitious mindset throughout the college.’
‘Pass It On has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones which has instilled self-confidence within myself as a teacher. It’s a non-threatening way to mingle with colleagues from all departments and share ideas and activities which can be transferred from subject to subject.’
‘The Pass It On sessions have really invigorated staff. I have been introduced to some great ideas and feel that my teaching has a new impetus. Before the end of term I have used some of the ideas gained and am planning incorporation into next year’s teaching. I like the way the sessions work, and really believe this sort of learning community is a benefit, not only for me but for my students and the college too. It has brought together colleagues from departments that never met each other and is therefore facilitating new relationships which are further impacting upon learning as those new cross-college bonds develop.’
‘Pass It On reminds me of why I went into teaching – resilient, enthusiastic teachers who can plan efficiently and see learning opportunities in everyday life. The real value is in simple, quick ideas that can be adapted to different levels and stages of learning.’
‘Thanks for organising Pass it On. I enjoy the wiki-nature of the CPD and tapping into the energy and buzz of the sessions. Pass it On has been an inspirational focal point – an oasis of energy and creativity to remind me of why I love my job! In our staffroom, the sessions on Google Communities have created a hive of activity.’
For the Beacon Award assessment visit back in September, we gathered together all of the evidence into two booklets, which you can access and read for yourselves below.
Click the image below to view the main booklet:
Click the image below to read case studies from staff:
Thank you to Lizzie Francis, James Kieft, Liz Lang, Gill Davidson, Ben Sims, Enda McBrien and students for contributing on the day. You played such an enormous part in the success of our assessment day; without which, the assessors would not have gained such a full understanding of the impact this CPD programme has had. A special thanks to those of you who were seriously grilled- not at all what you had signed up for! Jonathan Goode and the marketing team did a fabulous job in supporting with the preparation of the original application as well as materials for the assessment day too.
Thank you to every single member of staff who has delivered a session, facilitated a workshop, shared a resource, celebrated a success and participated in CPD since May 2013 when Pass It On was launched.
Special thanks have to go to Scott Reilly, Liz Anderson, Liz Lang and James Kieft for being there from the very beginning of the Pass It On journey; setting it up, promoting it and designing what it would look like. We have a fabulous Pass It On team in Katia Cole, Carly Sandford, Liz Anderson, Lawrence Hill, Enda McBrien, Preeti Vohra, Rachel George, Liz Lang and honorary member, Paul Warren who are doing truly great work.
The marketing department have been a huge part of Pass It On’s journey too, especially during the design stages when we went backwards and forwards with colours for weeks! Faz Masters supported throughout with developing design ideas alongside James Kieft and other important people to thank have to be Nikki Syers and all of the Estates team (especially Neil), who have really made Pass It On possible.
Thanks must also go to Amjad Ali, for talking me out of a few pretty dodgy names before the title of ‘Pass It On’ was reached and then for supporting us with fantastic joint TeachMeets in the early days.
Obviously none of Pass It On would have existed had it not been for Lesley Donoghue holding a meeting with staff and having the vision to think different about what CPD for staff could look like. Cheryl and Paul supported this every step of the way. It’s far too easy to underestimate SLT but without them, there is no way that a bottom-up model of CPD could have even been set-up, let alone have become award-winning.