On Thursday 16th November I was privileged to attend the opening of the OneSchool UK Teacher Academy opening. An opportunity to network with Head Teachers and to hear from Professor John West-Burnham on Professional Learning and then Andreas Schleicher.
Professor West-Burnham’s comments that OneSchool’s commitment to fifteen days professional development days is “by any standards, extraordinarily generous” was not lost on me. That “the impact of professional learning that takes place in a self-directed and high trust context is far more likely to make a difference.” I would have to say, from my perspective, here again he was right.
The first of these two personal professional days was dedicated to learning about the OneSchool Community and the Community businesses that support each Campus locally. Five appointments, five business tours, planned and scheduled, within a 139 miles round trip. As planned, it was what I anticipated a reps life would be like; though I am confident reps get as warm a welcome as I did. Here is what I learnt.
As I knew, many businesses start early. My first appointment was at 7:45am. AT 7:20am the staff car park was full, Safeaid was in full swing. Four of the five visits, business performance was carefully monitored. (Our student reports present little challenge to the diagnostic dashboards on display). Offices were light, bright with effective and common use of glass partitioning. Staff were well looked after, often fed and watered also.
Two recurring messages focused on IT literacy, with “functional” typing skills considered essential. Purchasing, ordering and customer support were all connected to databases. Knowledge of databases often had to be learnt upon starting work. Proficient Excel and Outlook skills were essential and an area for improvement. There as a quiet but growing interest in Digital Media Marketing to Community businesses.
Those business that were CAP sponsors would appreciate an employee profile of some description; subjects, attendance, strengths and areas for development, so that they could focus the business based experience. Day release is preferred over week or two week placements.
In terms of those soft-skills, the OneSchool Skills were not common parlance. The importance of initiative was aired on more than three occasions, as well as new employers making time to understand the business fully, including working on the shop floor, learning about the products and experiencing the hard, roll-your-selves-up side of the businesses. The businesses were keen to support personal introduction skills, as well as continuing to support public and business presentational skills.
What I did not expect was the collaborative opportunities that sprung from the visits. Safeaid also undertake staff clothing embroidery; we are planning to work together on a staff PE uniform. Redwood Innovations offered a potential Maths visit or speaking, exploring real-life applications of ratios, proportions in paint products from their mixologist. Acopia offered use of their stunning board room for a Whole-School, School Leadership Team meetings. ANSGlobal discussed a possibility of a living wall feature for our reception and more importantly, a creative project with Art in Spring-term. We have already shared a TEDTalk and ideas.
Personally, I learnt about leading by example and developing a healthy work culture. The care taken of, and recognising, staff. I borrowed “Wake-up learning,” from Acopia and the importance of “developing our own products” from Safeaid. Personally, professionally, it was an excellent use of my time that, without the PPD days, would have been difficult to justify. The next five business visits are already scheduled in my calendar.
I would like to end by thanking Richard Bowen (Safeaid), Richard Albon (Redwood Innovations), Wayne Lynes (Acopia), Mark Chambers (ANS Global) and Peter Marsh (FTH) for hosting. Thank you.