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January 2020 kicks off CPD success for Department of Education

Grassroots History Conference: 18 Jan 2020

Two hugely successful CPD events were hosted by the Department of Education at the University of Sussex last week which brought local professionals in the community together with Sussex teacher trainees and industry leaders.

The first of what is hoped will be an annual ‘Teechmeet’ event for Primary and Secondary English teachers, consultants and teacher trainees took place on 16 January with the support of the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) and the UK Literary Association (UKLA).

Attended by over 80 delegates, presentations were made by former Sussex teacher trainees and the President of the UKLA.

Sue Pinnick, Lecturer in English Education, organised the event with support on the day from Dr Julia Sutherland (Senior Lecturer), Liz Cousins (Teaching Fellow) and Jo Tregenza (Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Initial Teacher Education).

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and included the following from Dr Tim Shortis, Co-Director Research, Partnerships and Sustainability:

“… It was lovely to see that sense of a local PGCE community. […] I have known about the Sheffield-based literacy research for some years and have always found it thought-provoking. Its celebration of digital vernacular literacy practices is acutely observed and convincing, and it also sits somewhat uneasily with the intense curriculum focus and teacher accountability regimes in schools, certainly secondary schools. That does not make it unimportant and it’s great that you got your teachers to see one of its leading exponents.”

Two days later, Richard McFahn (History Education Lecturer) hosted the ‘Grassroots History Conference’ on 18 January. A paid-for and sold-out event, its aim was to provide History teachers and teacher trainees with practical ideas and support with curriculum planning.

This event also had approximately 80 delegates, including History teachers from local schools, Sussex History teacher trainees and other education professionals.

Keynote speakers included Richard himself who shared his research on empowering teachers with curriculum planning, and Mike Maddison, former Ofsted lead for History (2008-2015), who gave a personal view on what the new Ofsted framework means for the teaching of History in schools.

An example of the very positive feedback from this event is provided by Milan Jayasuriya, a History teacher from Oriel High School:

“This was the best CPD I have attended for a subject!! This was totally ideas driven with endless takeaways from workshop leaders. Thank you to all contributors and Richard for organising. It was so worth coming. I would advise anyone to attend in the future.” 

Professor Simon Thompson, Head of the Department of Education, said:

“It’s impressive to see so many teachers committing to their own professional development. The fact that local practitioners are dedicating their own time after school or at weekends to carry on learning illustrates just how important enhancing subject pedagogy is to the profession.

For us, it’s great to offer these opportunities - we get to stay in touch with ex-trainees, mentors and department leads, and add voices to important debates about the curriculum across phases and subjects. We hope to offer more of these sorts of events over the rest of this year and beyond.”


By: Heather Stanley
Last updated: Wednesday, 22 January 2020

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