Schools can’t work in isolation. Collaboration is more important today than ever. As the role of our local authorities diminishes even further we need to ensure we don’t lose the advice, support and expertise that many of us have received from them over the years.
Many of us belong to a range of formal and informal networks, this has helped us share innovations, ideas, practice and much more. Most importantly, belonging to a supportive network means you are not alone. If you are concerned, worried or bewildered by anything that greets you at school it’s great to find others feel the same way – it’s not just you! If you’re battling with the latest central directive or struggling to implement the latest strategy it’s encouraging to find your peers are in the same boat – or have been and found a way out.
Networks mean schools can help each other, support each other and learn from each other. At Hawes Side we are involved in numerous networks, some (The Kaizen Network, The Palatine Pyramid) created by a bunch of heads in direct response to our mutual interests and needs. These two networks have enabled us to realise a number of ambitions and continue to do so as we forge ahead with the development of new initiatives across our schools.
The Comenius Network is a British Council funded project that has enabled us to link with schools in Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Finland and Italy. The professional and cultural development fostered by this network has been fantastic and continues to benefit staff and children across all our schools. Our Narrowing the Gap project involves a number of schools in the North West and is focussed on 21st Century Schools. The children take a lead in this network arranging visits to each others schools, giving tours and talking about learning and how the learning experience differs in each setting. A conference is planned next month for the children and staff involved to share their findings.
One of the most important networks we are involved with is the SSAT. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is a national charity, a non unionised, non political network that provides support, expertise and advice that goes beyond that of smaller networks. SSAT is a global gateway for schools with the ability to signpost support, offer bespoke training and match up schools with partners from around the corner or across the world, depending on your needs. The primary arm of SSAT is the Family of Schools, like the other networks we’re involved in the FOS is hugely beneficial to us. Like the other networks, you get out of it what you put in. The more committed and involved you become – the more you benefit. Our involvement in all our networks is active, there’s no point in passive involvement, for us it is about challenging each other, supporting each other and, ultimately progressing and developing together. In today’s uncertain and increasingly difficult educational climate the importance of networks can’t be underestimated – let’s stick together!