Joint Practice Development (JPD) has a lot to offer Multi-Academy Trusts (MAT) and Teaching School Alliances (TSA). With the right culture, commitment and challenge in place, it has the power to take professional development and wider school improvement to a whole new level.
Here are 5 steps to help you embed JPD in your MAT or TSA...
1. Build social capital
It’s easier to get JPD off the ground if trust and reciprocity (the two components of social capital) are already established between staff.
Both within your school and your partnership schools you need to be clear what development areas need working on and who has the skills, experience and capacity to lead specific JPD projects.
Conducting JPD audits to establish pairs and trios with common goals and interests is a good idea here. Try asking staff the following questions:
In a JPD project...
- What could you offer someone?
- What would you like to gain from someone else?
- What aspect of teaching and learning and I not happy with?
Try asking partner schools:
In an inter-school JPD project…
- What can our school offer a partner school?
- What can our school learn from a partner school?
- What aspect of teaching and learning am I not happy with?
Through this, you will find ways of sharing skilled teachers so that their expertise contributes to the professional learning of all those within your trust who can benefit from it, while their own expertise is being developed at the same time.
Modelling, auditing and building trust
The role of school leaders is important here. They should model trust both within and between colleagues and schools, helping to create a climate that shows trustful relationships are the norm.
In ‘A self-improving school system: towards maturity’ (pg38), Professor David Hargreaves recommends monitoring levels of trust within and between your schools using questionnaires that staff can complete anonymously.
Auditing trust like this also makes it easier to talk about, thus helping to build it in within yours and your partnership schools.
2. Establish collective moral purpose
Teachers experience moral purpose in relation to the pupils that they teach. But this presents a challenge for inter-school partnerships, where teachers do not know (and rarely have the chance to meet or work with) pupils in partnership schools.
It's therefore essential to create a culture across your trust that's outward-facing and rooted in collective moral purpose i.e. a common understanding and commitment among staff to make a difference to all pupils (not only those in their own schools and classrooms).
3. Use time already set aside wisely
JPD requires teachers to meet regularly for it to be effective, preferably in a series of 30-60 minute sessions over several weeks. Therefore, the greatest barrier to switching to a JPD model is lack of time for teachers to engage in it.
Rethinking how you use your five INSET days is key here. Breaking them down into twilight sessions or JPD afternoons/mornings allows you to create smaller segments of time that can be redistributed throughout the working week.
“In England, for more than two decades, teachers have been required to participate in five in-service training days per year. The research evidence demonstrates that these are rarely well organised, are seen as of little use by participating teachers and represent a wasted resource.” - Brighouse and Moon (2013)
4. Evaluate and challenge
Without evaluation and challenge JPD can easily slip into complacency. Each school within your MAT or TSA must have the ability to evaluate the quality of education offered by other schools and be able to provide challenges to help them improve.
Although, naturally, at the suggestion of this most schools will react defensively and resist the idea, unless you first establish collective moral purpose and social capital among staff.
If staff are committed to the the success of one another’s schools (as is the aim of collective moral purpose), then evaluation and challenge are a way to demonstrate that.
5. Devise an effective dissemination system
Most inter-school collaboration fails to succeed due to the lack of an effective system for easily and rapidly migrating information between staff and schools.
Provided JPD across your partner schools is linked to evaluation and challenge, social capital and collective moral purpose, it is more likely that teachers will not see their knowledge and skill as 'private property' but as something highly valuable that should be shared. And so a system (i.e the motives and means) for dissemination will be built into your inter-school JPD projects.
Do you have any tips for how to embed JPD? Let us know below.