Keeping up with all the education news, DfE guidance and various new public health arrangements is challenging, however, there are other important agendas taking shape, including the changes around Teaching Schools, which will have major implications for us locally in Camden. Where we have been blessed with our wonderful local Teaching Schools: Swiss Cottage and Eleanor Palmer, the world is changing. Local Teaching Schools are going to be replaced with geographical Teaching School Hubs (TSH), who will then work with more local designated schools. Unfortunately the criteria for TSH is tough and does not appear to recognise contextual differences that exist, including disadvantage and starting points, this is disappointing. These changes could have dramatic implications on the way we manage and deliver our NQT programmes, the role of the appropriate body and the development of the Early Career Framework. Those new Teaching School Hubs will be identified in January 2021, so that negotiations or alignment can be strategized up to July 21. From the end of academic year, designated teaching schools stop, so they cannot have Teaching School branding or name. Schools Direct Partner or SCITT can however continue, so Eleanor Palmer will be able to continue this valuable stream of recruitment and Swiss will be able to continue their UCL role, including partnership board position for the mainstream PGCE delivery.

On a more positive note, we virtually welcomed our new Camden NQT cohort on Thursday; we have 85 NQTs this academic year, a pretty healthy number when you consider the implications of COVID on staff mobility, yet there remains an appetite from NQTs to come and teach in Camden. Timed perfectly with the start of Black History season, it was a pleasure to welcome Shalina Patel, Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2019 to provide the key note to our NQT audience. Shalina spoke for 40 minutes, it was a breath taking presentation, not only providing top tips for NQTs but a reminder to us all about how we can challenge ourselves to ensure diversity in the curriculum and to promote positive role model visibility. Shalina opened up an Aladdin’s cave of ideas, promoting an absolute love and passion for teaching and learning, structuring her lecture around three themes; decolonising the curriculum, resources to help innovate schemes of work and research to inform and enrich our understanding. Shalina talked about the concept of an ‘Echo chamber’ where our new teachers and young people are picking up news and fresh ideas instantly with the likes of Instagram and cited the important role of youth activism, which we are delighted to be supporting in Camden. Shalina also raised our awareness around absenteeism in the curriculum and talking and teaching about those uncomfortable truths, whilst also interrupting the psyche. We will be arranging a session for Heads as a Camden Conversation, so watch out for the date-it is a session not to miss!

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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