TDT spoke with Jane Kennedy, Senior Specialist Advisor for Education Durham about her experience of working with the Teacher Development Trust.

Hi Jane, what were some of the challenges that your schools were facing which prompted you to seek support from the Teacher Development Trust?

One of the biggest challenges that I saw were those one-off, ‘awe and wonder’, or less so wonderful sessions where people arrive and would go away thinking “I’ve got loads of ideas” and you knew that they would get back to school, reality would hit and they wouldn’t do anything with it. So, we were running a model of one-off courses and schools were basically piecemealing what they wanted, they were scatter gunning the CPD they had and there wasn’t a strategic plan.

What I wanted to do was develop the understanding of the long term approach and more sustained development of programmes, but also for schools to be more proactive in really identifying what they needed and prioritising as opposed to just having anything and everything. 

After a conversation with TDT, we decided that they would run a programme to build leadership capacity in schools around effective CPD and they worked with 12 of our schools to undertake the Diagnostic Review around what our current CPD is like. TDT very kindly agreed to do some CPD for my team, so we had 2 sessions as a service led by David Weston and Bethan Hindley about what was effective CPD and effective CPD delivery, which really moved us forward in terms of our thinking.

“One of the things that always strikes me about working with TDT is than you live by your values of being ‘Smart, Heart and Humble’. This absolutely permeates everything that you do.”

And how was the process of working with TDT to come up with a package for your schools?

One of the things that always strikes me about working with TDT is than you live by your values of being ‘Smart, Heart and Humble’. This absolutely permeates everything that you do. So it’s never ‘we’re going to come in and do this’ it’s always, ‘what do you need? ‘How can we adapt it?’ How can we work with you? You listen to voices from schools, from leaders, school inspectors and say ‘what is it that we can craft for you that would really be helpful?’

We worked closely with TDT to identify the schools with the capacity for this work and these would become our ‘beacon schools’ to support others across the local authority. TDT spent a lot of time working with our headteachers who were understandably a little anxious about what they were committing to and they placed a real focus on ‘let’s see how we can make this work for you and your school’ rather than ‘this is what we are running and that’s the end of it’, which was so helpful.

So we ended up with 12 schools having the Diagnostic Review, which involved some online workshops, individual conversations which were then followed up and a professional learning plan created. The regular TDT check ins with schools was really appreciated. I think for some it was quite an eye opener when they really dug down into what they were offering for CPD, they were quite shocked at how they were missing gaps and how the way in which they were running it wasn’t the most effective. But it also validated some of their practices and I think that’s really important as well so there’s always this sense of don’t throw things out if they are working, let’s see how they can be tweaked to make them even more effective.

As well as this the schools were each offered 2 places on the Pedagogical Coaching and Collaborative Enquiry programmes. The Pedagogical Coaching was absolutely fabulous, it was something that a lot of our schools were saying ‘yes we do that’, but when we actually dug down into it we’re doing more of a surface level of coaching, but really hadn’t got the best out of it or the potential of it to where it could go. Similarity with Collaborative Enquiry, even though we’re in challenging times and schools are struggling with workloads, the schools have really embraced that and have had some wonderful conversations around areas of work that these schools are developing. This has been really helpful for me to hear as well, as that helps me know what our schools need and want moving forward.

It’s been a real bonus working alongside the TDT all the way along the line as they are constantly available to answer questions and pick up queries, which makes a big difference because it’s so much easier to run a project like this as you know you are in safe hands. 

What has been the best part of working with the Teacher Development Trust?

My own professional development. I’ve come on leaps and bounds and the challenge to my own thinking and my own practice has been absolutely huge, and I certainly wouldn’t be sitting where I am today if I hadn’t had it. It completely changed the way that I viewed how I was delivering things, what I was planning, how I was prepping it, why I was doing certain things, it’s been absolutely massive! There isn’t a single session that I’ve attended that I don’t learn something, find something, go somewhere, have something to reflect on and that’s been really wonderful. Also, the professional dialogue that I’ve had with your colleagues across the board, no matter who it is, no matter in what forum, drop ins, conversations about particular projects, its been a constant rich conversation that’s gone backwards and forwards that has done nothing but good.

Listen to the full interview

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We also work with Multi-Academy Trusts, Teaching School Alliances, Federations and Local Authorities and to improve professional development systems. Find out more by visiting our Trusts and School Groups web page or book a conversation with our team.