"Partnership, relationships, collaboration, good practice.
You could call it SWIFT-ness."
Education is conventionally cyclical. Pupils and young people evolve and progress through their schooling steps before moving on in their life journey. The same is true of our colleagues.
At the end of this academic year, we will be saying a sad farewell, but a grateful thank you to Chris Harris as he moves on to his new role as Deputy Headteacher at The King’s School in Ottery St Mary.
Based at our Colyton Office at Colyton Grammar School in his role as Director of Teaching School Hubs and Assistant Headteacher; true to the partnership ethos of SWIFT, Chris has counted himself fortunate to work closely with the Colyton team, as well as the other Central Team members and of course, with our wider SWIFT partnership.
The SWIFT Central Team counts itself fortunate that Chris has been with us for two years and we have all benefitted from his dedicated and dynamic leadership that has masterfully been modest and yet momentous in leading on the programme delivery of the Appropriate Body Service (AB), Early Career Framework (ECF) and National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). And always with an eye for detail, calm tenacity, pragmatism – and a superb sense of humour.
As SWIFT also evolves and progresses it seemed well-timed to share some of Chris’s reflections on his time with SWIFT and as a tribute to his conscientious work.
It has been important to me and the SWIFT Team to present our essential values in our core SWIFT business so that we are trusted by our schools.
This is true of our delivery on the Hub programmes driven by a desire to support all schools of all types - whether a large Multi Academy Trust or a small standalone primary. We want to support them equally and to facilitate and ensure that they are getting access to the best of national programmes and to deliver a high-quality service for all.
This trust and support benefits from our knowledge and relationships that we tailor for the local needs of our schools so that the programmes work for everyone. SWIFT wants to be a listening and responsive Teaching School Hub – whether through the small school NPQs adaptations or additional SEND revision in the ECF that we understand is a priority for Devon and with a particular focus on all students to ensure an inclusive approach and to build a sense of belonging.
Rooted in partnership has been elemental for our SWIFT work and has been pivotal to the thinking in my role. I would say that my understanding has evolved in terms of the power of partnerships, as together you are more than the sum of your parts (cue our SWIFT logo!) and this certainly has been the scale that we have been working at on the ECF and NPQs. Moreover, it would be impossible to deliver a high-quality service without our essential partnerships in all that we do in the reciprocal relationship of learning from one another and always striving to improve what you do. Not forgetting, the professional value of partnership in working with like-minded focused people and ultimately, as we understand from teaching, we are all driven by a strong moral purpose, on which I like to think my understanding is founded.
Partnerships exist on many layers and to deliver effectively you need to be a partner with the schools and teachers and staff themselves and only then, can you truly achieve based on collaboration and consensus, which makes the partnership all the more convincing and robust. Professionally, my role with SWIFT has benefited me in building on this collaboration in being able to develop with some partners that I hope will stay with me throughout my career and I have truly appreciated seeing in action this power of partnerships and understanding that you have to be outward- looking all the time. I have also been in the privileged position of observing many different practitioners at work and listening to different schools and constantly and absolutely sharing good practice.
Finally, a vital professional lesson for me is the reminder that you should never be in glorious isolation in our educational world and value your relationships and connections; as well as understanding the national framework in which we operate so that we can best serve the communities we work with.
Partnership, relationships, collaboration, good practice. You could call it SWIFT-ness.
We wish Chris every success and fulfilment in his new role and thank him for his legacy to SWIFT.
We will miss him.
We welcome Jen Knowles, currently Director of West Country Training School Alliance as successor to Chris.
I am delighted to be taking on the role of Director of Teaching School Hubs (TSH) from September, building on the excellent foundations laid by Chris and the SWIFT team. It is a privilege to have opportunity to work with 500+ schools across Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and beyond in teacher development at every stage of their career.
This next stage of the TSH programme brings openings for further refinement of courses and programmes based on your feedback to further improve the experience of working with us and I look forward to working with you all.
And we look forward to working with Jen.