A Primary Partnership

About a year ago all Blackpool Primary Schools got together to create the Blackpool Primary Partnership.   It was fast becoming clear to us all that, in the future the local authority was going to struggle to provide the support we had previously enjoyed, and a new direction was needed.   As part of the new partnership we agreed to meet in regional clusters of seven or eight schools each half term.   Over the year, we each agreed to give up six staff meetings to the common cause and the meetings rotate around the schools with year groups getting together to share, collaborate,  support and encourage each other.   The host school for each meeting provides the chair and minute taker and each school contributes around an agreed area of learning.   The first meetings last term helped cement relationships and support between schools.   Where once this had been sporadic and ad hoc, it was now given a strategic footing with all schools, initially at least, buying into this model of mutual support.

Tonight’s meeting was different from those held last term in that all schools in each regional cluster met together.  Rather than just year groups, each school as a whole, was asked to share one or two ideas that were working to improve writing.  As the meeting was only an hour it meant, in reality, one 5 min presentation per school.   With a little flexibility built into the timings we managed to cover a wide range of initiatives from practitioners from Foundation Stage through to Y6.

It would be naive to believe all the teachers from our cluster felt enthusiastic about tonight’s meeting.   Unlike teachmeets where people come along to listen and share of their own volition, many teachers tonight didn’t choose to attend, they were directed.   Some staff would no doubt have preferred their own staff meetings back at base.   Some of those presenting were certainly very nervous about sharing with an audience of over 150 rather than a smaller number of colleagues from their own schools, but the evening was a success nevertheless.   The presentations well received and supported, and definitely took some presenters out of their comfort zone!   We finished a few minutes early to give staff time to share emails and phone numbers, to bounce ideas off each other and plan further collaboration.   What may have seemed to some, an unnecessary gathering, finished as the start of a new way of networking locally.  In lots of instances tonight was about reaffirming the things we are all already doing in isolation, in some cases it was about sharing new ideas and initiatives that have proved successful but most importantly, tonight was about teachers sharing their practice with other teachers beyond their classrooms and schools.  Our meeting was one of four taking place simultaneously across the town. It will be interesting to share how the other three went and it will be interesting to see where the Primary Partnership takes us, for such a collaborative approach offers huge potential for the professional development of staff and their classroom practice.

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About smichael920

Headteacher of a large primary school in North West England. Helping me to blur the distinction between work and home, I am also father of five, covering most phases of education thus giving me the lowdown from within and without. Education is about enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This can't be done using the tools of the past. View all posts by smichael920

3 responses to “A Primary Partnership

  • Charlotte IRIS Connect

    Fantastic!! Collaboration and sharing practice, especially between schools means that schools are able to harness the experience and expertise that resides within the staff and disseminate this for all to benefit! Teachers in primaries can be professionally isolating, particularly in small primaries with few teachers. Providing a teachmeet-esq opportunity to meet other teachers and share practice is a great initiative! We’ve just written a news piece about fourteen rural primaries coming together to share and collaborate, check it out here: http://ow.ly/8w0I9

  • Wendy Wallace (@crowlanehead)

    Sounds great. I’m HT of a school nr Huddersfield and a group of us are just starting on this journey. What lessons did you learn about beginning this kind of project which might help us avoid some of the pitfalls that may arise?

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