Back in the room!
Networking and CPD post-Covid
This short video introduces the SET for Teaching Success conference, shares the views of participants and introduces some of the ETF’s technical teacher recruitment and development support offer.
SET for Teaching Success is an ETF programme to recruit, train and develop, mentor and support teachers in Science, Engineering and Technology subjects in the FE sector. Blackburn College and the Skills Education Group are ETFs delivery partners and have successfully supported over 140 participants to transition into Science, Engineering and Technology FE teaching and training.
Of course, delivery of the SET programme has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic which has required delivery partners and participants to adapt to online delivery of continuing professional development (CPD) to include Industry Insight activity and networking that is such a key part of the programme’s offer.
In December 2021, the programme gathered together its final cohort of new teachers for what, for many ,was their first face-to-face experience on the programme. We took the opportunity to ask them this key question:
What’s your preference: online, or face-to-face CPD?
Those who joined the programme in 2020 had been really looking forward to their first face-to-face CPD on the programme:
“Online CPD, whether internally or externally delivered has been difficult! There have been some problems with the technology, but the real difficulty is to stay engaged – it’s the same with the students!”
SET for Teaching Success programme participant, Myerscough College
The challenge of staying engaged with online content is a theme throughout the feedback received:
“I can’t sit listening to people on a screen for hours on end: it’s so difficult to engage! The content is good but more than an hour on screen is just so hard. There are too many distractions, it’s just not possible to engage in the same way. I’m really looking forward to going along to the SET for Teaching Success Conference and having the chance to speak to other new teachers.”
SET participant, Askham Bryan College
The experience of ‘online learning’ as recipients has helped some participants reflect on their own teaching, and the experience of their learners:
“Teaching face-to-face is so much easier. It’s been really hard to teach online and to tell whether or not what you’re teaching is actually going in. It’s the same with online CPD – I did get a bit of computer fatigue after a few hours. It was good, but it’s very hard to concentrate and it’s hard to take the information in.”
SET participant, Wiltshire College
The need for online delivery of the SET for Teaching Success programme conference was, of course, widely understood and there were no complaints at all about the quality of CPD. Conferences had enhanced delivery using technology in innovative ways and the content itself was always useful. For many participants, it was in networking opportunities that Covid-19 had the biggest negative impact:
“It was so helpful to talk to others in exactly the same position as me, to bounce ideas around and discuss similar situation in different colleges, and different approaches. I would have liked the opportunity to meet up again in the second year, but it was done online because of Covid. There was still some good stuff, but it’s just not the same as talking informally over coffee breaks and just having a bit of a natter.”
SET participant, Nelson and Colne College Group
Hybrid: the future of CPD?
As we move out of the Covid-19 pandemic – with some false starts already behind us – we can all take the opportunity to consider what we’ve enjoyed, and what we’ve missed, through our online experience of networking and professional development. Consider the following, for example:
- Have you missed face-to-face engagement with your peers?
- Will you look for more opportunities to take part in future?
- What are the strengths of online networking and CPD that you think the sector should keep?
- How has your experience informed how you’ll deliver and/or engage with CPD in the future?
Surely, the future of CPD is ‘hybrid’: we are likely to take the positive from online delivery – the flexibility, the savings in travel time and expense, and the potential that it gives us to share and participate without geographical boundaries – and make informed judgements about how to deliver and participate in networking and CPD.
Face-to-face, online or hybrid: the value of networking and CPD
However we access it, personal and professional updating and training and networking opportunities will be critical to our development as teachers and trainers, and to the quality of our learners’ experience of Further Education.
The success of programmes such as SET for Teaching Success, alongside others such as Further Forces and Taking Teaching Further, have informed a national teacher recruitment campaign for FE which will be launched early in 2022 as highlighted in the FE Skills for Jobs White Paper, and will be explored in future TCOP articles. Some of the SET alumni present at the December 2021 conference reflected on their experience of SET including Majd Khador a participant from Derby College:
"These were the best networking events I’ve ever been to in terms of meeting teachers from other colleges, and I’m still in contact with some of the people I met there.
"Our first session was a talk about subject pedagogy and it was very, very useful to me, because whenever I looked up the word “pedagogy” I had been confused. The examples given are still in my mind very clearly and I really understood about pedagogy for the first time. Another session I remember was on behaviour management and it was so interesting. At the time I was struggling to manage the behaviour of certain learners and it really helped, lots of lessons learnt."
You can read a case study of Majd’s SET for Teaching Success experience on the ETF’s website, here.