Martine Ellis is the Professional Development Manager and Scholarly Activity Lead at Guernsey College of Further Education. She reveals why being a SET Corporate Partner helps support the college's mission to invest in staff and professional development.
I have been a big fan of SET for many years and have always been a champion of SET’s work, so when I read about the corporate partnership offer in inTuition, I got in touch with the team to find out more. I’ve always got a lot out of my SET membership, so when I found myself in this professional development role, I started thinking about how many of my colleagues get that same benefit.
What makes us renew our SET Corporate Partnership each year
We become a SET Corporate Partner in February 2019 and we are now renewing it for the third year in a row. We’ve renewed for a variety of reasons – primarily it’s about investing in our staff. We have a real drive to get as many of our staff awarded with Qualified Teacher Learning Skills (QTLS) as we can, because we see that as a real mark of professionalism and we really value it as a status.
We are also gradually working towards getting a number of staff to undertake Advanced Teacher Status (ATS). This is really important to us, particularly those who are working as part of our professional development cycle and supporting the development of their peers. For us, it’s about investing in our staff, investing in our people and getting towards that place where the vast majority of our teaching staff have QTLS.
I would say that we have quite an innovative approach to professional development – we don’t do judgemental observations, so having our teaching staff working towards a professional status in such a way where they can support the development of others is really important to us.
What’s the feedback been from the staff and students about their SET membership?
It’s going to sound like a small thing, but they love the inTuition journal – I mean, they absolutely love it! It’s a great way of keeping in touch with what’s going on in FE generally and a gateway into reading more on research, so the journal always goes down extremely well.
Those who have started their QTLS journey have also been getting a lot out of that. The sort of comments I receive from colleagues are things like: “Doing QTLS has got me back into being a more reflective practitioner”, “It’s got me questioning my practice”, “It’s got me asking my students for feedback more often”, so it’s been great to see them thinking about teaching and learning as a priority, when there are so many competing priorities in the teaching role.
I also think that our partnership with SET has really improved the way we run our professional development cycle. The cycle is called ‘The One Thing’, and we worked with SET and the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to do a case study video. That’s a real highlight of being more closely involved in SET and having that close partnership. I am also a member of the practitioner advisory group (PAG) for SET, which has given me a bit of a ‘fly on the wall’ view of how everything works and an idea of the direction that SET seems to be going. The opportunity to influence that a little bit has been really valuable.
I find it useful having one point of contact at SET so that I can ask questions and find out how things are going. I receive regular emails letting me know how many memberships we’ve used, statistics on people logging their CPD, and find out who has completed QTLS, and so on.
Plans for the future with SET
Our numbers of teaching staff have been fairly static over the past couple of years, so we haven’t got more staff to get more memberships for; however, one thing we have done is to increase our numbers slightly to offer memberships to our Learning Support Assistants. We wanted to recognise that they play a pivotal role in teaching and learning, and we could see that they could get some benefit from being members by us being part of the Corporate Partnership.
It’s my hope that we’ll have far more QTLS and ATS candidates going through the professional formation process, as we value it so much, so I think the future is about getting more people on board with that. Certainly, in my own role, I’m looking at developing my role and my group of teaching and learning peers into advanced practitioners, so I’m hoping they can fully maximise their own individual memberships and we can collaborate on a few things there.