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Design and technology boosted by ENTHUSE Partnerships

Published: Feb 3, 2020 4 min read

STEM learning

ENTHUSE Partnerships create a real collaborative network between local schools and our partnership is evidence of this!

Array of tools

ENTHUSE Partnerships happen where STEM Learning works with groups of 6-8 schools and colleges to develop a bespoke two-year action plan with funding and access to CPD and support.

Through ENTHUSE funding, we were provided with a training budget – supporting us to develop a two-year training plan including subject-specific training, pedagogical training, networking, coaching and a wide range of additional support. This support can help you and your partner schools to make a positive difference to your subject.

ENTHUSE Partnerships are powerful for all STEM subjects, but I would argue they are even more necessary in design and technology, where small departments have become the norm, and consequently the capacity to commission CPD and collaborate with colleagues has diminished.

It sounded too good to be true

Running a collaborative project with other schools began for us with getting buy-in from local subject leaders and support from their leadership. It is normal to feel some apprehension and mistrust to begin with. Through our partnership we were able to offer free training, networking and resource sharing … it just sounded too good to be true!

We found several strategies worked with buy-in from everyone: clear and concise information sharing (but not too many emails), meeting with key people face to face, providing cake and getting information out to headteachers, LAs, MATs etc, as well as directly to design and technology subject leads.

As schools came on board, each department nominated a champion to be involved in shaping the activity of the partnership. We also quickly recruited a deputy lead for the whole programme, supporting the lead school to organise and communicate activities across our new network.

Creating the plan

With schools on board and a champion in each school nominated, we focused on creating our plan for the two-year programme. What did we want to achieve for design and technology in our schools? What impact did we want to make in our departments? How will we work together as a group of schools?

This is where it gets exciting! With a plan in place, we set up our two-year training programme. We commissioned new training, shared our own expertise across our schools, ran inter-department meetings and shared our passion for improving the subject. Our partnership really started to take hold, meetings had a buzz about them, teachers were excited to catch up and share ideas, cross-department links were forming and all with design and technology as the focus.

We created a termly newsletter to record each school’s achievements and posted it across the local area, showing off the efforts of the partnership and raising the profile of STEM subjects with leadership teams.

Our personal highlights

For us the standout moments were:

  • holding a fantastic launch conference, followed by new annual conferences for design and technology; 30 design and technology teachers in one room, all from the local area – working together.
  • carrying out sessions on curriculum design. With the recent specification changes in design and technology, curriculum design was a key concern. These events brought awarding bodies and training to us, no travel needed.
  • bringing bespoke CPD to our partnership schools. We chose courses that we wanted locally and arranged for them to be delivered in our schools. New kit, new ideas and all on our doorstep.
  • regular ‘coffee and cake’ networking meetings where all colleagues can mingle, share ideas and, most importantly, eat cake! Each term we look forward to booking out the time for our next networking meetings.
  • scheduling champion meetings, ensuring that activity in the partnership is moving in the right direction, keeping everyone informed and responding to any emerging needs.

Our partnership has had a significant impact with staff positivity and personal understanding of an ever-evolving subject. For students, we have dramatically improved the opportunities made available to them. We share ideas more often and are collaborating as departments on events and student activities. Yes, it has been hard work, but when you stand back and look at a group of teachers working together to bring about change in the subject you love, the hard work is worth it.

We are all very proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time; we are supporting each other to raise the profile and success of design and technology in our schools and making it grow as a regional effort.

Laura Lazenby and Paul Tillman are part of the Milton Keynes ENTHUSE Partnership

This article is taken from STEM Learning's Secondary Magazine. See all our magazine content here.

Useful links

Speak to your local Science Learning Partnership about setting up a bespoke course for your school or partnership.