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The CETTs’ secret of success: networks, collaboration and a different kind of MEP

Networking and collaboration are vital to teachers’ continuous professional development, which is part of the reason why the Centres for Excellence in Teacher Training have had their recent success.

The GCSE Maths Enhancement Programmes (MEPs) which CETTs have organised were praised not only by Minister for FE and Skills Matthew Hancock, but by the maths and numeracy teachers who participated.

From a standing start in late 2013, the nine Centres for Excellence in Teacher Training (CETTs) in England exceeded their targets, by organising and training over 2,000 people right across England.

As part of the Workforce Development Programme, the CETTS were tasked by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Department for Education to work in partnership with the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics firstly, to coordinate the training of maths professional development leads and secondly, to facilitate the delivery of six-day CPD programmes.

The CETTs’ networks and reach allowed them to hit the ground running, thus attracting a range of teachers and trainers who work in colleges, private providers, adult and community learning and the armed forces.

The Education and Training Foundation enabled many maths practitioners to undertake the programme by offering a generous £1 million subsidy meaning that over 2,000 practitioners who practise in over 400 learning provider organisations benefitted from the programme.

As the sector awaits the start of the English Enhancement Programme, it is worth reviewing the secret of the CETTs’ success.

Engagement was extensive. In the South-East, for example, the Westminster Partnership ran MEPs on the Isle of Wight; Gillingham, Kent; Eastbourne, East Sussex; Chichester, Highbury and Southampton , Eastleigh in Hampshire; Guildford, Surrey; Oxford Brookes and Abingdon & Witney College, Oxfordshire; University of Westminster, London; Wallington, Stanmore, Uxbridge and Ealing. In the North-East, Success North CETT ran programmes in Gateshead, Freebrough Academy, Community First North East, Charnwood Training Group and Proco NW Ltd, and recruited participants from 35 different providers from all settings in the sector.

The feedback so far is that the MEPs are quality programmes, with some delegates writing: ‘This is the best CPD I’ve ever done!’
There will also be lasting benefits to the sector, such as:

• Over 2,000 maths/functional skills/numeracy teachers who have benefited from the six-day programme;

• High levels of satisfaction and excellent feedback from MEP participants – not to be under-estimated given the high levels of Maths anxiety displayed by many;

• A group of over 70 NCETM-trained, quality-assured and effective Professional Development Leads, drawing on an extensive set of quality NCETM resources and a programme which is quality-assured by NCETM and the CETTs;

• The establishment of nine Maths Strategic Hubs to inform policy and further maths CPD development in each region.

What next?

Although 2,000 tutors are currently completing MEPs, this is only the start of the work that needs to be done in order to develop a skilled Maths teaching workforce. Different parts of the sector have different needs, but all settings have some tutors who do not hold GCSE maths qualifications and who have, to date, worked in supporting numeracy and lower level maths classes and may themselves need support to increase their levels of confidence in working with the new GSCE curriculum.

In addition, the CETTs have hosted Good Practice Networks for practitioners who teach Maths, English and Special Educational Needs, in order to identify good practice in the FE system and their comments, resources and ideas are being fed back to the Education and Training Foundation.

The MEPs are a starting point. The FE and Skills sector needs to develop and resource future support – particularly around mentoring and coaching for people new to Maths, English and SEN teaching, as well as research and scholarship for existing practitioners.

The feedback from Maths, English and SEN practitioners during Good Practice Network meetings is that local and regional networks and collaborations are vital components of CPD.

The CETTs have built on their extensive regional networks in double-quick time and now have links with Maths, English and SEN practitioners and managers, who have already started to ask CETTs when the next Enhancement Programmes are starting – which is another measure of their success.

Rebecca Eliahoo is principal lecturer (Lifelong Learning) at the University of Westminster and co-director of the Westminster Partnership Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training (CETT)

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