Professional Exchange Networks

Professional Exchange Networks

For many years FE Sussex has managed a large number of peer to peer professional development networks.

This gives colleagues the chance to come together to discuss sector updates and exchange areas of good practice.  They form the raison d’etre of the FE Sussex quality improvement programme.   Access to groups is free of charge to all colleagues from member and associate member colleges.

For some events we join with our equivalent groups in Hampshire, Kent and Essex thereby maximising coverage.  Feedback from group participants is consistently high indicating how we are successful in providing high quality sector-derived development opportunities.

All FE Sussex practitioner forums are as successful and vibrant as the participants make them so we ask all colleagues to be prepared to play an active part in meetings.  (Passive learning also accepted!)

PEN subject areas for 2021/22

1 – Maths and English (Sussex & Hampshire):  The aim of this group is to provide peer exchange and support for colleagues who have responsibilities for the teaching and learning of mathematics and English.  Given the large number students taking GCSE re-sits the format of meetings seeks to give staff the opportunity to exchange successful pedagogic techniques and processes.

All staff are welcome to contribute to the agenda or suggest guests who may be of help.  For example, regular input from leading awarding bodies is of particular value.  It  enables staff to keep up to date with syllabus changes, statistical performance review of candidates’ answers and curriculum developments in general.

2 – Quality Improvement Group (QIG):  The origins of FE Sussex lie in quality improvement of teaching, learning and assessment.  The  objective of the group is to continue the tradition of continuous improvement.  Quality Managers, Vice Principals and other senior staff responsible for quality of delivery and teaching and learning come together to discuss developments and exchange ideas.

Inspection processes and outcomes are reviewed and colleges which have recently undergone inspection report on the procedures used and exchange other information of interest.  A typical meeting might also include a focus on an area of best practice, or the use of staff development materials.  Alternatively, a representative of one college may be asked to feedback on how new curriculum is being taught and managed.  It is common for external guests to attend and we are fortunate that inspectors from Ofsted  attend to share latest developments.

Other external guests could include, for example, a senior director of the Association of Colleges who will provide a briefing on curriculum initiatives (eg T Levels) and sector developments.

3 – Safeguarding:  This group brings together colleagues in all member and associate member colleges who have responsibilities for the monitoring, administration and implementation of Safeguarding policies.  The meeting is run jointly with Sussex Police who provide updates on areas of Safeguarding activities such as Prevent and Action Counters Terrorism.

In some meetings members request the opportunity to discuss ideas on how to implement aspects of Safeguarding in practice.  For example., anti-bullying, racial equality, disabled access or similar cross-college themes.

In the tradition of learning from sector practice, Ofsted reports on Safeguarding are regularly reviewed, learning points identified and used for development purposes.

4 – Examination Officers:  This group brings together Examination Officers from all member and associate member colleges.  The focus on the group is hearing from and being updated by awarding bodies on administrative procedures rather than academic concerns.  Generally, information exchange will cover not only the specifics of the awarding bodies but also any updates from JCQ or other similar organisations.

Meeting twice per year (the summer term is too busy) the group use the opportunity to receive direct instruction from awarding bodies and to compare practices.

5 – International Managers:  International student recruitment and student experience play a large role in all of the FE Sussex member colleges.  The role of the international managers can be an isolated one.  The diverse  duties of which can include areas such as host families, accommodation, visa processes, quality of teaching of English and a Foreign Language, university applications and pastoral support.

This group meets to compare and discuss all of the above and also provides a focus on international marketing opportunities in the form of discussions, comparison of active areas of international student recruitment, agreements with HE and use of agents.

By the nature of the travelling remit of international mangers meetings are moved to accommodate the availability of staff.

6 – Sustainability:  This group reflects the strategic objectives of our member colleges with regard to the carbon roadmap and the green agenda.  The group brings together colleagues with responsibility for improving the carbon footprint of their college.  Discussions cover areas such as use of environmentally friendly alternative energy sources, re-cycling, intelligent buildings and student carbon literacy.  See also Greener Sussex under the Project tab of this website.

The format of PEN meetings

PEN meetings for the year 2021/22 will be held online using the Zoom platform.  The average length of a meeting is up to 60 minutes unless there is an external speaker – eg HMI.

The dates of PEN meetings

For details of all PEN meetings please visit https://www.fesussex.org.uk/

Further information

Please contact Tim Strickland tim@fesussex.org.uk