COVID-safe conference demonstrates future for school CPD

A multi academy trust has revealed more than 1,500 education professionals gathered online last month to share best practice, setting the stage for a transformation in how CPD can be delivered in the education sector.

Wellspring Academy Trust held its annual Festival of Learning virtually, showcasing the future of trust-wide interaction and shared learning. Whilst the shift was necessary due to Covid restrictions, the process has revealed how effective, engaging CPD can be delivered on a large, geographically diverse, trust-wide basis.

Natalie Hardman, chief administration officer, at Wellspring explains: “Our Festival of Learning is a highlight of our year, and a fantastic opportunity for our community of 25 schools to get together, be inspired and share their knowledge. There was no way we could let Covid stop that!

“Moving online proved hugely successful. We had 1,696 people all online together to watch the live stream of our keynote speaker and attendees booked 5,182 sessions in total. As well as colleagues from across the trust, we also welcomed colleagues from a further fifteen non-Wellspring schools.

“Sharing best practice across a trust that is spread across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and eight local authority areas can be a huge logistical challenge, but our virtual Festival of Learning has demonstrated quite convincingly how technology can overcome that challenge. One of the clear benefits of being part of a large trust is the vast amount of experience contained within it. By developing online opportunities for collaboration, we can really make the most of that.

“We are now exploring more options for online learning, including broadcasting of expert knowledge sessions for educational professionals across Wellspring and beyond. Professional generosity is an important part of our charitable purpose and we are committed to sharing our knowledge and expertise to benefit all. The opportunity for increased online sharing and CPD within MATs and the education sector as a whole is a really exciting prospect.”

Wellspring’s Festival of Learning was held on 12 February and attendees benefited from workshops on a huge variety of subjects ranging from behaviour management approaches to how to best use the Google Education platform. A keynote speech was delivered to all by Jaz Ampaw-Farr before attendees than joined their chosen four sessions throughout the course of the day.

Wellspring currently manages 25 schools, with that figure set to grow significantly over the next few years. It operates in mainstream primary and secondary, as well as having extensive experience in delivering special and alternative provision. Wellspring also manages a portfolio of complementary services, include mental health support services, community projects for young adults with special needs, and a host of training and consultancy services around behaviour management in schools.

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