The past, present and future of PLP
Excellence in Cities (EiC) was launched in 1999 by David Blunkett in six key urban areas: inner London, Manchester/Salford, Liverpool/Knowsley, Birmingham, Leeds/Bradford and Sheffield/Rotherham. Following their success, the initiative was expanded and Excellence Clusters were developed. In 2002, the Government made £200 million available for the whole Excellence programme across the country and this sum rose to £300 million in 2003-4.
In 2002, a number of schools in one of the most challenging areas of Peterborough were successful in their application for EiC (Education in Clusters) status. Thus, the original cluster launched in September 2002 with 4 secondary schools, 7 primary schools, 2 junior schools and 2 infant schools. In addition to this, other partners included Connexions, and the manager for local authority Community education and LifeLong Learning. John Palmer was the lead person from the DfES. The original strands were Gifted and Talented, Learning Support Unit/Learning Mentor and Tailored. A number of original jobs were also created : Learning mentors, G & T co-ordinator, Learning Mentor Co-ordinator, Seclusion unit supervisors.
Different strands developed and were led by a number of different headteachers. Lead Behaviour Professionals, senior members of partner schools, were introduced and significant training delivered that had a great impact on continuing to support the improvement of behaviour of pupils.
The Gifted and Talented strand, led by Iain Simper, was also highly important in training co-ordinators through to a coveted professional qualification with Oxford Brookes. The G & T work led to significant increases in level 3’s and 5’s at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 and greatly improved GCSE results in partnership schools. Iain worked intensively with all partner schools so that they were at the forefront of innovation for learning for this group of pupils.
In 2005 after a short period of time via a part-time secondment, it was felt essential to provide the cluster with a clear management focus so our first full-time manager was Nick Guest. Nick was followed as manager by Terry Snitch, who retired from headship at Paston Ridings and carried the partnership into its next stage of development.
With Nick Guest as manager, expansion of the EIC took place and new partners were invited to join as more funding had been released by the government as it was seen that the project nationally had been very successful in addressing all the previous issues that had been identified. A chair for the EIC was in place from 2007 and had strategic oversight for the partnership. Our chair stayed in post until 2013. Under her guidance the organisation became even more outward facing, dynamic and strategic.
In 2008 the local authority acted to maintain funding to all partner schools and guaranteed to centrally fund seclusion, the role of EIP manager and Iain Simper as Gifted and Talented co-ordinator for the city as well as providing additional support for the impressive programme of CPD that had been developed by the partnership. The Learning mentor co-ordinator for the city was made redundant.
In 2009, a new strategic lead rose to the challenge. Through her sense of vision the number of partners increased greatly and new relationships were forged with secondary schools in particular. To ensure the sustainability of the partnership, membership of the partnership was through a subscription and this allowed new ventures to develop, such as the annual Festival of Learning. Iain Simper developed his role into Learning Innovation Adviser and supported schools in their development of curriculum to meet the needs of all of their pupils.
An interim executive board was set up to oversee the development of the organisation. In 2011 the EIP became the Peterborough Learning Partnership. Led by a forward thinking and committed chair, Mary Foreman, supported by Iain Simper as PLP Manager and an interim executive board, the PLP continued to grow at pace working with a wider audience of schools and associate partner organisations.
In 2012 the process of becoming a community interest company started. Achieving this status in November 2013, the PLP continued to grow.
The PLP is governed by a board of Directors, reflecting all phases of education and our associate partners. The PLP is led by Iain Simper, supported by an Events Co-ordinator and Business Manager, Sadie Wiles.
As of 4th July 2014 there were 61 school partners and around 30 active associate partner organisations. We run over 100 courses per year, for over 1500 delegates – making annual savings for our member schools of over £85000 = c£1800 per school per year!
Our school members benefit from being linked through to local, regional, national and international organisations- adding value to their offer, supporting them in the school improvement journey and improving life chances for learners.
PLP also acts as a support for real school:school collaboration.
PLP continues to thrive; supporting schools in 3 local authorities on their school improvement journeys. We have developed an interactive website and a new APP for mobile devices; allowing colleagues to keep up to date with PLP developments wherever they are.
Our drive to support schools in their school improvement continues at a pace. Welcoming member schools from 4 local authorities we continue to work tirelessly to support all staff. We have set in motion an exciting strategic alliance with Viscount Nelson Education trust. Our work now includes provision of a high quality employee assistance programme. Our board of directors continue to provide voluntary support and challenge.