All about the 3P Network

Background – current context

There can be little doubt that over the past few years those responsible for the delivery of education and children’s services within the United Kingdom have undergone an unprecedented period of challenge and change. However, the process of examining the role of “local authority” in supporting the raising of standards in schools is no longer confined to the turbulent UK context.

In other parts of Europea process of devolution of statutory duties is occurring whereby central government is increasingly relying on regional, local, community or school governance arrangements to deliver national priorities for school improvement and outcomes for children. As a result;

·         Local authority arrangements are taking over responsibilities from national government
·         Increasingly, educational and child welfare policy is becoming localised
·         More and more schools are becoming part of networks and strategic alliances which go far beyond the immediate school environment
·         School development is becoming an integral part of neighborhood/municipality/regional developments
·         The traditional construct of schools is being replaced by the process of schooling within a model of lifelong learning which contributes to development of community cohesion and citizenship  

Consequently, many city councils, municipalities and regional agencies appear to be questioning their current practices and relationships with schools and, through this process, are seeking to review their capacity for making a difference to the learning and life chances of children.

Beyond the European context there are many examples of federal, state and community governance arrangements through which national education and child welfare policy imperatives are interpreted, mediated and delivered at local level.

Within all of these models there is one common feature, namely, a set of professional officers, administrators and advisers whose role it is to support the strategic and political determination of policy and, subsequently, manage the delivery of that policy on behalf of the communities for whom they work.

The dilemma of collaboration

Traditionally, this group of practitioners, who are sometimes collectively referred to as “policymakers and administrators”, has often worked in isolation from the other elements of service provision. Given the context of change outlined above, this way of working is no longer appropriate or sustainable and, consequently, a new paradigm of collaboration is required between;

o        Policymakers (at differentiated levels)
o        Politicians (at differentiated levels)
o        Practitioners -  those managing administration, providing training, consultancy, guidance and advice to the delivery “system:
    
 in schools:
      in other strategic and operational networks and stakeholder organizations e.g. youth offending teams, early years teams, pupil welfare teams, sports and recreation services, early years and day care agencies etc

As a result these respective groups will require new competences, knowledge, skills and behaviours - in areas such as;
Providing direction
Leading and managing change
Managing information
Communicating and engaging effectively with children, young people, parents and carers
Managing networks
Working with partners and stakeholders. 

The question is - how can we work on building the capacity of all those involved (the three P’s) in improving outcomes for children and young people? The key is to foster capacity building so that local educational and children’s services policy is developed in such a way that;
·         it really stimulates and facilitates school improvement,
·         school improvement becomes integrated into the broader construct of community and lifelong learning and the notion of “giving more children the opportunity to develop optima forma” ( viz. “it takes a village to raise a child”),
·         professional groups with different backgrounds (the 3 P’s) get to know each other, respect each other’s ambitions and concerns, understand each other’s day to day work and, through this interaction, develop a common culture which underpins the improvement of schools and other agencies involved in the delivery of services to children and young people.

The role of the ICSEI “3 P – network”

In order to meet the challenges set out above ICSEI has established the 3P network which will serve as a professional practice and research network for all those professionals engaged in the policy determination, planning and delivery of services to children and young people.

How will it work?

It is intended that members of the “3 P – network” will meet annually during the ICSEI conference. In between these meetings members of the network will aim to share practice through;
·         “virtual” communication through video conferencing, tele-conferencing, internet, newsletter, e-mail etc
·         life encounters on ad hoc basis i.e exchange meetings called occasionally to consider specific “hot issues” of the day leading to;
·         management seminars 

Thus, at its core, the “3 P – network” will aim to provide opportunities for:
·         exchanging professional practice
·         reflecting on professional practice
·         developing a collective intelligence base
·         providing the impetus for research into local authority capacity building.     

It is hoped that this focus will serve to promote the professional development and competence of all staff working in the strategic management and operational delivery of education and children's services at local authority level and, through this, increase the effectiveness of that sector of provision which sits between national government and schools.

To register interest in joining the 3P Network, please contact:
anton.florek@virtualstaffcollege.co.uk

 
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