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‘TELLing our story’ – 8th April 2011 – Launch event for the new research network – report

A very encouraging range of providers, practitioners and areas of the country were represented including universities and colleges, and one delegate from Scotland. There are some 10 other contacts on the network mailing list who were unable to attend on the specified date, making a prospective list of interested parties in excess of 60. Since the event the mailing list has grown, and continues to do so, numbering some 70 at June 2011.

Facilitators / presenters:

Jim Crawley (Bath Spa University) – event convenor

Yvon Appleby and Alison Barton (University of Central Lancashire) – presenters and workshop facilitator
Caroline Harvey (Bath Spa University) – workshop facilitator

Introductions, welcome and opening session

Yvon Appleby and Alison Barton (University of Central Lancashire) – presenters and workshop facilitator
Caroline Harvey (Bath Spa University) – workshop facilitator

‘Triple professionals’ – Teacher Educators in the Lifelong Learning Sector
Jim Crawley, Bath Spa University.An update on Jim’s research into the professional situation of Teacher Educators in the Lifelong Learning sector including insights into their values, working context, challenges and achievements, and a critique of aspects of the professional situation in which they find themselves.

Jim Crawley is the Programme Leader – Lifelong Learning, School of Education, Bath Spa University

Using collaborative and facilitative methods those who teach others to teach in the post-compulsory sector have been able to reflect critically on their own principle and practice; something they require others to do but never have the space and time to do themselves. The process of sharing these insights provides supported, collaborative and critical professional development. The product, in this case a book, becomes a collective resource which powerfully articulates the professional concerns, passions and insights of those who support the teaching of others.TELL_group.jpg‘Finding a professional voice: sharing our insights to challenge and develop practice’
Yvon Appleby and Alison Barton, University of Central LancashireTeachers in the post-compulsory sector are required to undertake continuing professional development to enhance their practice, yet much of this is done individually and without much support. This workshop discussed examples of working with teachers and learners in a large post-compulsory teacher training partnership in ways that enable individual voices to be heard and to be shared – commenting individually and collectively upon research and practice.

Dr Yvon Appleby is the Associate Director for the Centre for Applied Educational Research at the University of Central Lancashire
Alison Barton is Programme Director for the Initial Teacher Training programme at the University of Central Lancashire and is a National Teaching Fellow


Session materials
‘Triple professionals’ (PowerPoint)
It’s just like being a student (PowerPoint)
Looking back and moving forward – reflecting on our practice as teacher educators – pdf

Mapping Lifelong Learning Teacher Education research activity as it is currently taking place by sharing experiences and activity across groups of workshop participants and recording the results. This workshop demonstrated that there is a significant amount of research being undertaken by teacher educators, by trainees on their programmes and by other colleagues in the sector. More of this is coming through to publication but it was felt an organised research network could significantly improve sharing and dissemination of results.

Those present were from organisations including Avon and Somerset Constabulary; Bath Spa University; Brooklands College; Christchurch Canterbury University; City of Bath College; City of Bristol College; Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College; Edge Hill University; Exeter College; Glyndŵr University; Learning and Skills Research Network; New College Swindon; Norton Radstock College; Oxford Brookes University; Plymouth College; South West Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training; University of Brighton; University of Central Lancashire; University of Exeter; University of Greenwich; University of Plymouth; University of the West of England; University of Westminster; Uxbridge College; Warrington Collegiate; Wiltshire College

The session and the day as a whole demonstrated that there is and has been much research taking place across the LL sector. Ongoing research mentioned addressed themes such

  • Mentoring
  • Professional identities
  • Partnership working
  • Constructive alignment of assessment
  • Changes in perception of ITE trainees after ITE
  • Experiences of reflection (trainees and teacher educators)
  • Supporting teacher educators
  • Sustainability if ITE programmes
  • Theory of planned behaviour and applications of principles to ITE
  • Routes into teacher education
  • ITE and ex-service personnel

Potential further or continuing themes for research identified during the day

  • Subject specific pedagogy
  • Mentoring
  • Threshold concepts in subject areas
  • Teacher educator identity
  • Professionalism and accountability
  • Teaching of theory
  • HE in FE
  • Experiencing OfSTED
  • Employers’ responsibilities to their staff
  • Comparative and international research
  • Transitions on 14-19 education
  • Different ‘phases’ of ITE
  • History of LL sector and of LL ITE

And many more

Developing a research network
What did participants want from a network?
Responses included:

  • The need for any research network to be independent of any organisation and non-affiliated.
  • A space for creative and independent thinking
  • To be able to find out what was going on
  • To allow a network to develop organically and without haste.
  • To be able to follow our own individual interests and share them with like minded people
  • To be able to work with others to secure funding
  • An online community

How might a network operate?

  • A wide range of questions, points and issues were raised including:
  • How a network might be able to develop, share and disseminate research; develop communities of practice; put in joint funding bids; influence policy and practice; empower teacher educators and teacher education
  • The degree to which networks / groupings of teacher educators already exist and how effectively they operate.
  • How research by trainees could feature in this network, and how trainees may feature as the subjects of research
  • How a network may be able to give research projects access to a wider range of subjects and expertise
  • CETTs have been important, but are not genuinely national
  • A network might also develop specialist interest groups.
  • A network could provide a more substantial sense of history and status for Lifelong Learning sector Teacher Education
  • There were other groupings in existence (e.g. TEAN – which is more secondary ITE focussed), but not such a specific network as is proposed here
  • The group didn’t want too clear a purpose at first – but wanted a network to evolve naturally

End of the day plenary / summary

In a final plenary session at the end of the day these points were recorded (in no particular order or priority):

  • There was considerable enthusiasm from those present to establish and develop an independent network.
  • It was felt it may be possible to have productive and worthwhile relationships with others such as IfL, CETTs and existing research networks / groupings / centres but that this network should be self-managing and membership driven.
  • Different aspects of professionalism for teacher educators and teachers in LL were highly important for those present.
  • A research network could help what we do to become more high profile and show that what we do does have a positive impact on teaching and learning and the sector in general.
  • What else might be next? – should we establish and online presence – distribution email address. JC developing the ‘Teachology’ website for teacher educators, and will be asking for contributions

There are Multi-layered activities / items we could get involved in, including:
– Big bids that all contribute to and participate in, working towards publication
– Smaller scale, facilitation of others new to research
– Mentoring writing of research and initial articles to build on it late
– ‘Work in progress’ seminar/workshop
– just do it at first and then expose your writing to other people
– Sharing news on local / regional / national events and activities which may be of interest
– Sharing pieces of research across the network
– Running writing, discussion type events (e.g. ‘pop up’ seminars?!

What will make it different from other networks?
The meeting closed with an agreement that Jim Crawley would be considered the convenor of the network at present, and that further activity / development would be considered during the summer 2011 period.