1/11/2023 0 Comments
“Working with SWIFT, I enjoy collaborating and creating high-quality CPD provision that fulfils our desire to do the best for our schools and our children that comes through our programmes.”
Proving the benefits of our SWIFT partnership model in motion, Andy Ogden is one of our valued Delivery Partners.
Developing people so that they can confidently and expertly carry out their classroom and office roles and benefit from professional and personal fulfilment and ultimately, provide the best education for children is a lifelong passion for Andy.
Based at Devon Training School Partnership at Tarka Learning Partnership, Andy has gained nearly 30 years’ expertise and experience in education through a variety of roles, not least - Headteacher, School Improvement Advisor and National Strategy Consultant. He has designed the Subject Leader Apprenticeship for the Tarka Learning Partnership, led the Devon Teaching School Partnership and was previously Director of Devon Primary SCITT.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at Tarka Learning Partnership is described as providing “inspiration leadership that models and secures outstanding personalised training, professional development and pastoral support.”
Working with SWIFT, Andy is hands-on in delivering high-impact CPD training opportunities as a Lead Facilitator for the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), delivering the Teach First ECT programme and is a key player in the SWIFT Membership Services Team.
We asked him to reflect on this positive working relationship.
1. What do you believe to be most important in supporting schools?
Fundamentally, I think it is starting from where schools are and empowering them to do the job that they need to do.
Clearly for schools this is making sure that the right environment, the right people, and the right training are in place so that children receive the best education.
I believe the role of SWIFT is in supporting schools to do their job in the way that is right for them and their children and communities as a service relationship in understanding the needs of schools, and how best to support them. Schools will then have choices available to them about the way in which they operate and this goes beyond professional development and includes the benefits of collaborative networks.
I would also hope that by listening to schools they feel the SWIFT offer is more bespoke to their needs, rather than simply generic training, and they are genuinely supported in their school improvement work.
2. What do you perceive to be the current challenges for schools in North Devon?
I think one of the biggest challenges that is probably true of all schools nationally, but particularly for Devon, is our provision for special needs children, and the training of colleagues who work with our most vulnerable children and the need to access services for alternative provision.
In North Devon, there is a shortage of specialist provision available exacerbated by funding restrictions and falling roles in some rural areas. Hence, we are having to source a lot of support from within our own schools and settings and make the best of what we have available to us and the importance of working collaboratively.
Given our North Devon location, we can feel isolated and sometimes because we are not near some of the major urban centres we need to look and reach outwards to ensure that we are abreast of the best that there is nationally in terms of education.
I think we recognise that for a long period of time there has not always been the infrastructure to support North Devon and therefore we have to do a lot of this work ourselves. Therefore, the challenge is how to form partnerships and to create an infrastructure that is sustainable in North Devon and meets our local needs; whilst still recognising that we have a lot to learn beyond North Devon.
Linked to this challenge is the recruitment of teachers, Teaching Assistants and support staff to the area; which is clearly another nationwide challenge.
But we like to think that North Devon is a lovely place to live and come and work; and although housing is expensive, we have a lot of new housing and would hope that this will bring more children to our schools. In fact, I am sitting in a brand-new school as we speak that has an intake of 60 children a year. So, there are reasons to be hopeful!
But in some of the surrounding areas outside Barnstable in particular, the pupil projections are of rolls beginning to fall off. Although I am not quite sure of the reasons. Possibly the increase in second homes common to the Devon area as a whole.
3. How does Tarka Learning Partnership benefit from working with SWIFT?
I am pleased to talk about this partnership and I would go back to the history of working with SWIFT when there were previously around ten of the original Teaching Schools across Devon and Torbay and Plymouth. I remember some of these first meetings where it was clear that the educational landscape was going to change.
The fundamental wish was that we all needed to work together for the benefit of all schools and children and this became our guiding vision. What we also gained from those meetings was that colleagues had developed their own capacity and specialisms and expertise in certain areas, and together, we were greater than the sum of our parts (the SWIFT symbol!).
I think the biggest gain as a Trust is the fact that we have other colleagues who are very willing to collaborate with us and to think through challenges and opportunities, to design training and support that will help us all. For example, we have not all got the capacity to run our own subject networks. But by collaborating with other SWIFT partners, we can deliver this work. We, at Devon Training School Partnership, are now facilitating across most of the primary phase, but our secondary colleagues are leading other work, which becomes more viable because all schools can participate. It also gives us access to the Golden Thread programmes with the Appropriate Body Service, the Early Career Framework, and National Professional Qualifications, which again, we support, but we could not deliver on our own.
The other benefit is bringing opportunities for our staff. For example, we have two safeguarding leads who were funded by SWIFT to attend the NSPCC six-day programme to train other staff and are now running those programmes which are very highly evaluated and have brought their own experience and expertise to the NSPCC training and are leading meaningful safeguarding training as trainers in their own right.
Similarly, we have another member of staff who is running the Writing Moderations training in North Devon and we are able to link with fellow SWIFT partners, Exeter Consortium Schools’ Alliance and Riviera Training School Alliance who run these sessions in their localities as well; so that every primary school teacher has got access to a moderation group.
I think also for our staff, they benefit from a very comprehensive professional development offer, which they would not otherwise enjoy because we are able to tap into and fill the gaps through the entire SWIFT programme, combined with some of our own internal training, and we can additionally signpost to other opportunities.
As an employer, we believe that we our staff have a wide ranging CPD offer, and one that we could not necessarily do on our own in magnifying on the biggest scale.
4. What are your hopes for future working between Tarka and SWIFT?
Essentially, it is probably doing more of what we have been doing to date so that we are working towards a comprehensive and cohesive offer of training.
in addition, considering the educational landscape has become quite fragmented for different reasons - different sorts of schools and approaches, SWIFT can become a democratic voice, in drawing schools together in what we can do together and our commonalities and help to provide a forum that is shaping the landscape. Increasingly, the partnership that is SWIFT is becoming a voice for leaders, staff, and children to have their say in how the education landscape should evolve.
5. What do you find to be most rewarding from working with SWIFT?
Above all, I think it gets me outside my own echo chamber by being involved with other people beyond my own Trust, School, and locality, which is always an enriching experience.
It obviously increases my knowledge, skills and understanding by being in contact with a wider network of educational professionals and conferences, which I really enjoy. SWIFT procures some excellent national speakers who provide relevant and up-to-date training and thinking as well.
Personally, I think that it has given me training and professional development opportunities in the same way as I mentioned previously for our staff. I enjoy being a Facilitator for the NPQs and I have always loved working with the Early Career Teachers and having my own cohorts.
Also, there is the enjoyment of working with other colleagues to shape and design programmes that will benefit schools and to play my part in shaping the SWIFT vision. There is a true feeling of togetherness; that we are all responsible for developing our school staff. For instance, I could feel this last term at the Early Careers Teachers induction conference and with the NPQs Facilitation Team. It did not matter which school the Early Career Teachers or NPQ Leaders attended, or their locality; we were all helping to grow the next generation of teachers and leaders and doing it together.
It is this common goal in what we are trying to do for all of our schools, children and leaders.
I am very proud to be part of SWIFT and I believe that it is a good way forward and we should celebrate what SWIFT has achieved to date in quite a short space of time to support schools.
Interview by Jude Owens, PA to the Executive Team and Governance