Interview with LIZ ALLTON | Assistant Head Teacher at Finham Park 2 School in Coventry | @lizsaddler
Whilst Joe Wicks MBE was engaging the nation in doing ‘PE with Joe’, Liz Allton spotted an opportunity to bring online training to the nation with #DTenthusED.
A few months on, her hashtag is trending on social media and attracting teachers from across the world to her programme of online training. We asked Liz to share her experience of setting up online training for teachers with support from an ENTHUSE Partnership, and to give us some top tips for how other schools can do it themselves.
What is #DTenthusED?
#DTenthusED is subject-specific training for design and technology (D&T) teachers that we host for free on Zoom. We hold between two and four sessions per half term, focusing on a different element of the curriculum each time. Teachers can either take part live or download the session to watch at a later date. We advertise the sessions on social media and teachers sign up online to get access to the event and any resources that the presenters share.
How did you come up with the idea?
The idea was our response to learning during lockdown. As the lead for CPD in my school, I always have an eye on what CPD is available for our staff to take part in. I noticed that there was a lot of content for other subjects but, at the time, nothing subject-specific seemed to be available for D&T, so I spoke to my head teacher and my department about setting up our own training. We initially started it to support the D&T teachers from across the Trust, but word spread and it quickly opened up to teachers from elsewhere. Teachers dial in from as far away as Dubai, but I’d say the majority of teachers definitely come from schools across England. How did you choose the name? Firstly, it’s a D&T initiative, so that influenced the title name. I also wanted to reference the #researchED content that I’ve been getting involved with on Twitter. We initially set this up with support from the ENTHUSE Partnership that we are running, so squeezing that into the title gave us #DTenthusED!
What's been the response from the teaching community?
We’ve been blown away by the feedback that we’ve received so far. Using #DTenthusED, we can track the conversation on social media and find out how each session is received. It’s incredible to think that our school in Coventry is supporting schools from across the world. We’ve also received a lot of emails from teachers thanking us. One of the biggest successes for me is that we have provided a virtual community for D&T teachers who are the only subject specialist in their school. We always include a breakout opportunity within each session so that teachers can network with each other and share ideas about the content. If you are on your own in a department or working with a team of non-specialists, sometimes having a fellow subject specialist to speak to and share ideas with is all you need to feel part of a subject community.
We started the programme with some big topics that we knew would be of interest to a wide range of teachers. The next phase of the programme will look at more specific content from different parts of the curriculum. I’m also working on bringing an industry perspective to the sessions, by inviting guest speakers from university departments and STEM Ambassadors.
Find out more about #DTenthusED
Top tips: delivering online support
- keep it short and to time, as people are busy, so we limit everything to an hour
- use online software that you are familiar with and keep it simple
- use the text chat to capture questions as you go – this means you can mute everyone except the presenter and make sure you avoid any background noise
- use surveys and social media to gather feedback on the sessions
- run sessions that you and your department will find useful. If you find the content interesting, then it’s likely other subject specialists will find it interesting too!
Liz set up #DTenthusED with support from an ENTHUSE Partnership. ENTHUSE Partnerships enable groups of schools and colleges to work together to improve young people’s achievement and engagement in STEM.