Local Network Meetings achieve “lift off” in Portsmouth

SET Fellows Bob West and Jacqui Lawrence tell us about their experience setting up the first SET local network meeting, which took place in Portsmouth on Thursday 20 October 2016.

We are two Fellows of SET who are passionate about providing local forums that will:
• Enable the interchange of best practices
• Enable discussions generating ideas that will enhance the membership experience
• Provide a support network for those members who feel isolated
• Provide knowledgeable support to members aspiring to QTLS status

We facilitated a very successful inaugural meet-up with 16 members at the WEA Omega Centre in central Portsmouth. In this article, we’ll tell you more about the process of organising the event, and give an account of the day, who we met and what we learned.

Bringing practitioners together through local networks is an important part of SET’s vision, and a valuable benefit to the membership. Having expressed an interest in volunteering to run local network meetings, we met with Julie Gibbings, the Operations Manager of SET, in July to discuss how we would make these networks a reality. This meeting was a great success and we laid out a plan of action.

Prior to the meeting, we organised the venue – the WEA Omega Centre in central Portsmouth, produced a draft agenda and provided an article for SET’s magazine, InTuition. The SET team publicised the event, took bookings and printed and supplied all the materials we might need for the meeting.

On the day we set up the venue and welcomed 16 members with tea, coffee and cake. The meeting started at 5.30pm with introductions – everyone gave a brief overview of their teaching experiences and why they had come to the meeting. It was great to meet representatives from across the sector, including commercial training providers such as Babcock International Group, FE colleges including South Downs College, adult education, independent tutors and trainers. People had a wide range of reasons for coming to the meeting: wanting to meet others, getting more information about membership and the requirements of and changes to QTLS.

Members reviewed and discussed the Professional Standards, which was a particularly worthwhile exercise as some members were very familiar with them and said that their institutions had incorporated them into their appraisals, whereas for some others it acted as good reminder.

There was an in-depth discussion on the terms of reference for the meeting and about what the group want out of their membership. Here’s a summary of the ideas we talked about:

• Mentoring and tutorial-style support for QTLS applicants
• Support for leaders to identify INSET themes and create wider quality improvement pathways through non-traditional CPD methods
• Create a menu of options for short CPD opportunities including professional discussion themes that staffrooms and teams can use and develop
• There were some great ideas on how SET could widen the range of practitioner tips - for example create an area where members can upload TED-style talks and short clips of top tips
• Support for facilitators to identify and manage barriers to attendance at institution based CPD sessions
• Better signposting to resources that support teaching and learning

Following this, Bob also gave an overview of the QTLS application procedure, explaining the evidence that is now required to meet the new enhanced QTLS standard.

After a final discussion on dates and venues for future meetings the meeting formally closed, although we did continue discussing specific issues with individual members for a while longer!

We would like to thank the following people for their help and support:
• The SET team for all their administrative support
• Elaine Alexander from the WEA Omega Centre in Portsmouth both before and on the day ensuring we had all the facilities required to run a successful meeting
• Alan Thomson, the editor of InTuition for editing and publishing the article about the event

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