What HertsCam does
Our core programmes are the school-based Teacher Led Development Work (TLDW) programme and the MEd in Leading Teaching and Learning, but there are many other activities and projects through which network members pursue their aims. At our Network Events – six during the course of the year - and at our Annual Conference, it is inspiring to see teachers sharing accounts of their development work and working together to build robust professional knowledge.
We also enter into partnerships with other organisations to support school self-evaluation and to enable others to build programmes to support teacher leadership.
We have worked with partners in more than 17 countries around the world to help create programmes of support for teacher leadership.
Russian translation of our book by the Soros Foundation
At HertsCam we are delighted to be able to share the Russian translation of the book ‘Transforming Education Through Teacher Leadership’ edited by David Frost and published in English in 2014.
We are indebted to the Soros Foundation in Almaty, Kazakhstan for their initiative to have this book translated. They have generously funded this and have also distributed hard copies in many countries across Central Asia.
To access the pdf files, click on the icons below.
Many of our regular readers will know that the International Teacher Leadership initiative was funded in 2009-2011 by Open Society Foundations which is part of the Soros network of NGOs. In that case we were fortunate to receive funding and practical support which enabled us to help to establish teacher leadership programmes in many countries.
Sometimes you may come across negative comment in the media about George Soros. A more balanced picture can be found in the three articles from the New York Post, the Washington Post and the Guardian. If you would like to read these, click on the icon below.
David Frost writes a monthly blog focusing on aspects of teacher leadership.
The scandal of university finances
We are in the midst of a scandal about the finances of universities. We have had revelations about Vice Chancellors’ pay. Salaries in excess of £400,000 are not uncommon and we have seen massive pay-offs when VPs have been forced to resign. It has highlighted the ongoing anger and dismay about tuition fees which are now routinely £9,000 annually for undergraduates and a loans system which means that students graduate with enormous debt.
Lord Adonis, a Labour peer, seems to be the leading voice in a campaign to sort out this scandalous situation but the government seems powerless to intervene. Most commentators agree that universities’ independence from government is a good thing. They are not public services in the way that the police and health services are. Supporters of the status quo say that market forces have to dictate the high salaries of university chief executives but most universities in the UK are not businesses. So what are they? In actual fact, they are constituted as charities.
From our perspective in HertsCam, this is puzzling. We are also a charity and we provide a masters degree programme for teachers (www.hertscammed.com). We have to live up to our stated objectives which commit us to working to improve education in schools. We are obliged to demonstrate that any surplus that might accumulate is spent on furthering our stated objectives. We keep the fees for our MEd programme to the absolute minimum being keenly aware that in schools, money is scarce. We can only keep the fees low – just over £3000 a year – because members of our teaching team are happy to be paid very modestly for their labour. And, we don’t have a chief executive. We have an MEd Programme Leader who is paid at the same rate as the rest of the team. As a founding member of the Board of Trustees, I offer support and guidance to the team but I do not receive payment at all. The point is that we take our charitable status seriously. We do not do provide these services in order to enrich ourselves. We do it because of a strong sense of moral purpose and commitment to serving teachers and schools.
Decisional capital, technology and human warmth
Regular readers will have noticed an unfortunate hiatus in my blogging. There was no blog in May. In case you were wondering why, it was just acute embarrassment. Let me explain: at the beginning of May a posse from HertsCam had travelled to Rotterdam to participate in the Education International conference. At this event we launched our new book, published on 1st May. Tweets and emails repeated the good news and a gratifyingly large number of people logged on to Amazon to try to buy the book only to find that it was ‘Unavailable’. We had begun the process of opening our Amazon Seller Account in January but had not reckoned with the extreme rigour of Amazon’s ‘verification’ process. This involves checking every bit of data through which we are identified on Companies House and the Charities Commission websites, at the bank and so on. At HertsCam Publications we expressed our frustration in some very short words and some with just two syllables. We were frustrated by a system which relies on algorithms and standard electronic replies to our enquiries. We just wanted to talk to real people. We wanted dialogue. We wanted to say – so what’s the problem? How can we fix it? Alas, it seems that the Amazon business model does not involve many actual people.
We know of course that this is the way things are done these days. Fewer face-to-face transactions. Fewer opportunities for human error. Pilotless air flight. Driverless cars. What will they think of next? At the EI conference in Rotterdam we heard Andy Hargreaves railing against the march of technological solutions to the problem of education. He gave us a robust critique of developments such as the Bridge International Academies which provides ‘low-cost education’ in countries such as Liberia, Uganda and Nigeria. Their approach is to minimise dependency on their teacher’s ability to plan lessons and make other professional judgements. Teachers are given an iPad with all their lessons pre-loaded, planned by experts at central office. Hargreaves’ argued that in this sort of approach teachers are construed as mere technicians and ‘decisional capital’ is diminished. Read more...
April 2017: Distributed editing to amplify the teacher voice
March 2017: Across the great divide or othering and belonging in a professional learning community
Feb 2017: Empowerment and facilitation
Jan 2017: Snapshot of a teacher-led masters course
Dec 2016: A salute to ‘il professori’
First Network Event of the Year
Barnwell School, 11th October
Barnwell School in Stevenage warmly welcomed members of HertsCam to the first Network Event of the 2017-18 school year. We were delighted to see colleagues both old and new to TLDW and the MEd programmes. The inclusive nature of HertsCam was clearly represented in the wide range of school experience and settings from Early Years practitioners to those working at Post 16 and colleagues teaching and leading in Special Education.
The programme was opened by our host Emma Anderson Assistant Headteacher at Barnwell, HertsCam Network Coordinator, graduate of the TLDW and MEd programmes and member of the current MEd teaching team. Sheila Ball and Sarah Lightfoot, respectively HertsCam TLDW and MEd Programme Leaders, spoke and were followed by an opening address from Matt Roberts; Associate Headteacher at Barnwell and another TLDW and MEd veteran. Matt spoke passionately about the positive whole school impact HertsCam has made on the culture of classroom-based enquiry and risk-taking for teachers at the school. Feedback on the event praised Matt’s ‘inspirational’ contribution.
There was a vibrant atmosphere in the hall during the Poster Gallery Walk session, with many high quality post-it note contributions; sharing, shaping and building knowledge.
The second session provided an insight into a range of projects, provoking discussion and the sharing of ideas for colleagues leading the workshops. Project foci included: deepening pupil understanding through self-generating questioning; developing a professional learning community with support staff; developing pupils’ capacity to reflect on their own learning; strategies to develop resilience and agency in our pupils as they go through the options process; developing pupils as intentional learners through parental engagement; developing the self-efficacy of disadvantaged pupils through classroom practices and parental engagement; developing strategies for continual improvement through using Kaizen in the classroom and developing teaching assistants’ interactions with children.
Comments from participants included:
"Fantastic network event. Timing perfect."
"Many great ideas, will use in lessons soon."
"Loved: the balance of the meeting - speaker, networking and small seminars. "
"Nice pace and opportunity for all participants to network at the stage of development they are at."
Thanks to Emma Anderson and Rebecca Latta for hosting, to Jasleen Dhillon for supporting the organisation of the event and to everyone who contributed through the wonderful posters and workshops. All feedback will be discussed at the next Managing Group Meeting.
We look forward to welcoming you to our next Network Event on 13th November hosted by Helen Wootton at Dame Alice Owen School, Potters Bar EN6 2DU
First graduation ceremony
The HertsCam MEd in Leading Teaching and Learning
The ceremony on Saturday 14th October 2017 at Knebworth Barns in Stevenage was the first since the HertsCam MEd programme was redesigned and validated by the University of Hertfordshire. Friends, family, colleagues and members of the HertsCam Network and the MEd Teaching Team gathered at Knebworth Barns, Stevenage, on a beautifully warm and sunny day to celebrate the achievements of ‘the first sixteen,’ those pioneering teachers who commenced their studies in September 2015. Not even a power cut in the local area deterred us all from enjoying the day.
The event was planned to ensure that the hard work and success of those undertaking the degree, and the efforts of those who have taught and supported them were properly recognised and celebrated.
Ben Creasey, Master of Ceremonies, led our celebrations in what was described as a ‘dignified ceremony carried out in a traditional fashion.’ Sal Jarvis, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University and Sarah Lightfoot, MEd Programme leader both paid tribute to the graduates’ tenacity as they managed the demands of the programme with busy professional and personal lives; the quality of their academic achievements and most crucially, the tremendous and worthwhile difference their work has made to teaching and learning in schools and settings. Steve Emmett, one of the graduates surprised us with an impromptu but warmly received speech and David, Sheila and Sarah were thrilled with cards and gifts from the participants. David Frost’s closing remarks highlighted that our graduates’ success has validated the very idea that a Masters degree programme can be developed, led and taught by teachers for teachers.
Graduates appreciated a highly personalised approach to the day: from the greeting on arrival to Val Hill, Programme Leader 2015-16, reading a statement about each individual participant’s development project and its impact in their school before each person received their MEd award.
In a slight change to the planned order of the day, a delicious meal was enjoyed after the ceremony, with the Knebworth Barns team coping extremely well despite the electricity cut. Their helpfulness and friendly approach were noted by us all. The venue was enhanced with beautiful flower arrangements for the ceremony room and the luncheon tables organised by Judith Nash. Our official photographer was Alan Reilly, a retired teacher and we think the photos captured the day perfectly.
Comments from graduates and their guests included:
‘The mix of informality and gravitas were just right.’
‘I liked the way we were greeted at the door and made to feel special throughout the entire day.’
‘The whole process was wonderful – well-structured and organised.’
‘Venue staff were extremely helpful and coped brilliantly with the powercut.’
An email from one graduate’s parents read:
‘We have been meaning to get in touch to send a big thank you to you and your amazing team for the fantastic graduation day at Knebworth last week. It was such a wonderful occasion and so very well planned. You managed to blend the essential formality of the occasion with a very personal approach which will make the day so memorable to all those who were present. We know that such a successful day must have taken a huge amount of preparation but just want to say that all the attention to detail was greatly appreciated - from the warm welcome we received on arrival to the flowers on the table.’
And now the planning for our next Graduation Ceremony in October 2018 begins.