Number 10

It’s been quite some time since I wrote here. I struggle to believe that 2 years have almost past.

In the meantime, PLP has gone from strength to strength. We’re now working closely with some 48 member schools across Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire; providing high quality, high impact professional development support plus enabling savings of almost £30000 to our members via our partnerships with external organisations.

We are particularly proud of the development of our Children’s University centre, now supporting over 20 schools and hundreds of aspiring children and young people. Our work with the Education Support Partnership providing an Employee Assistance Programme to nearly 2000 staff continues to grow, providing support when it is needed for all staff in all of our schools.

Our most recent thought leadership report has been very well received; exploring how schools and MATs manage a strategic approach to professional development planning and programming for their staff.

We are now working even more closely with TeachInCambs to provide a rationalised and coherent professional development portal for all schools in the region.

Having recently attended the recent AEPA conference, looking closely at the development of effective area-based education partnerships, I believe we are well suited to support the wider system development in this respect.

I hope all is well with you in your setting and that the Autumn term proves to be exciting, engaging and successful.


Number 9

21st December 2016

Well that all happened very quickly!  Where did 2016 go? Time flies and all that…

2016 has been another successful year for PLP; enabling the very best professional development support is available for schools.

Working hard to ensure and enable a considered strategic approach to professional development we continue to provide a clear, structured and responsive programme for all of our schools based on their needs and on national trends.

Our partnerships with Whole Education, Potential Plus UK, National Literacy Trust, Cambs and Peterborough YMCA and SchoolsWeek continue to strengthen; plus we are delighted to have started partnerships with the National Autistic Society, OLT InternationalNurture Group Network, Bridgwater College, Best Practice Network and a strategic partnership, supporting schools making considered strategic decisions around CPD, with the Teacher Development Trust and the DfE.

The Peterborough Children’s University, now managed by Gill Hall, will go from strength to strength – building a learning community throughout and around Peterborough; keep an eye out for the next round of our graduation photo’s in ‘Term Times’!

Working closely with Vivacity and Opportunity Peterborough, the CU is an important part of the learning landscape for all of our learners.

You may have seen the opportunity to engage in 2 action research projects which PLP have been instrumental in bringing to our member schools – SAPERE Philosophy for Children with the EEF & Structural Learning Action Research with Paul Main.


  • 67 member schools; covering Spalding to St Neots and from March to Folksworth…
  • over 100 courses; covering leadership, teaching and learning, curriculum, workforce development, community, and children and young people events…
  • over 1400 delegates.


Please explore our 2017-18 programme via our new-look website ( or via the Pulse (attached)

You may have also noticed that we have started programming from September 2017.  We will be surveying all staff in member schools during January – exploring future CPD priorities for schools – to inform our work.

PS. Don’t forget to secure your 2017 Festival of Learning places – – 100 have gone already!  

PPS. Download our PLP app’ to receive the latest information straight to your phone:


Number 8

12th September 2016

‘Happy New Year!’

I received this message at this time of year each year for many years from a colleague I worked with as part of a local authority school improvement team. It always brought a smile to my face – and still does.  September is a fantastic month in schools.  New uniforms, new teachers, new paint, new rotas, new timetables, new policies, new people, new ideas…in fact there’s always plenty that’s new to learners walking through the school gates as they start their new year.

It seems that Government too like to start the year with new ideas; grammar schools (Green paper unveiled today!),  developing vocational pathways to becoming a teacher, new methods for allocating top grades in GCSEs and much more.

Change is a good thing though..isn’t it? At least it’s a constant.

We’ve hit the ground running. Our programme of professional development is in place; reflecting our member school needs, national trends and local priorities.

Partnerships with Whole Education, National Literacy Trust, Potential Plus UK, National Autistic Society & SchoolsWeek continue. Ensuring our schools receive the very best, up to date guidance, information and support needed.

A warm welcome to our newest member schools – New Road Primary School, Park Lane Primary School, St Gilbert’s CE Primary School, Uffington CE Primary School,  Folksworth C of E Primary School & Malcolm Sargent Primary School.

Number 7

1st July 2016

I’ve just got back from the stunning Kids Country event here in Peterborough – over 5000 children exploring and learning about food and farming – the weather held out and the buzz and excitement for learning was palpable.  We’re proud to have supported this event for a number of years now and look forward to future events!

It’s been rather busy recently; hence the long wait between blogs. We’ve worked hard on developing next years’ offer – listening to schools and keeping an eye on national trends too.  Our work with Early Excellence is developing really well – and we look forward to hosting their interactive environment in Peterborough next year. Superb opportunity for early years practitioners and Key Stage 1 teachers too.

It was a privilege to attend the recent Food for Life Awards celebrating the success of Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City award winning schools and caterers. Well done to all of our schools who are achieving great things.

I also got the chance to attend the PECT Eco-Education Award ceremony at The Voyager Academy – the quality of work and thinking going into eco-education is staggering. A special mention to Woodston Primary School who achieved the Eco School Flag status – first in the city!

Number 6

Seems an age since I last wrote the blog; so much has happened.  More of that to come.  And already we’re thinking about the new academic year – constantly looking forward!

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy; speaking to Headteacher groups in Spalding and Stamford plus meeting with lots of interesting and exciting organisations.  I was delighted to continue our working relationship with the YMCA last week – developing their offer to schools around their counselling service – great work and very worthwhile.

It was also a privilege to meet with David Weston at the Teacher Development Trust – I hope this is the start of some really interesting work exploring measuring the impact of CPD in our schools.

Our Festival of Learning at the start of the Summer term was our most successful yet – 450 delegates, 30 exhibitors and a group of nationally regarded speakers.  My thanks to our speakers Andy Buck, David Weston, David Didau, Mary Myatt and Steve Russell for an inspirational and challenging day.

We’ve also launched our report: How can we retain and develop our teachers at a time of budget cuts whilst continuing to raise standards in schools?: The Value of Continuing Professional Development

It’s been well received and we think it is a really good starting point for conversations around how high quality, planned, strategic and responsive CPD can help schools recruit and retain high quality staff. Please share the report with your wider networks.

Coming up we’ve got a full programme of professional development for all staff; including new sessions forsite managers and school business managers

We’re looking forward to welcoming new member schools too; almost 50 schools have subscribed already for 2016-17 and we hope to grow the partnership further during this term.

The snow and ice seems to have disappeared finally, with a warmer summer sun now starting to show itself.  Keep and eye on our website – it’s going to change in a few weeks; you’ll also be able to download our new free App – keeping you up to date with all things PLP!

Number 5

Just a quick blog this time; had to reflect on the day we had yesterday here in Peterborough; over 30 schools working with Professor Dylan Wiliam on Embedding Formative Assessment. A superb day – inspiring, affirming, challenging and thought provoking.  Colleagues left with a wealth of resource, ideas, thought pieces and research to back up decisions they can make in their schools for the best interests of their learners. Driving Dylan to the station at the end of the day was a personal highlight; time to talk to an educational hero of mine, priceless.

Monday afternoon was our first chance to host Whole Education‘s Primary Curriculum Conference – excellent inputs from schools – as Natasa Pantelic from Whole Education said, “inspiring practice from schools in the network. We hope you all came away with lots of ideas and a feeling that you can design and develop a whole education curriculum that is bold and makes a difference for young people in your own contexts.”

We also started a conversation with We Are Every – looking to explore how effective School Business Managers and Site Managers have impact on standards – and how in the most effective schools their work supports the school to improve.

Our recently commissioned report, “How can we retain and develop our teachers at a time of budget cuts whilst continuing to raise standards in schools? Exploring the latest issues and trends around Continuing Professional Development”, is now complete – thank you to all of the contributors from schools in the region.  We are delighted with the outcome – copies will be made available in due course via our website.

Our thoughts and energy turn to this years’ Festival of Learning .  A busy yet engaging day for over 400 teachers from over 30 schools with an incredibly high quality line up of speakers and workshops – Andy Buck, David Weston, David Didau, Mary Myatt and Steve Russell.

Number 4

Where did that time go? Last blog was November, crikey. Christmas and New Year came and went – all seems a distant memory!

Another challenging yet exciting start to term here at PLP.  So many highlights to share with you – I’ll pick out a few which stand out…

Had our first meeting with the Red Cross here in Peterborough – hope to support them with getting in to schools with free first aid sessions for learners – great stuff.  We met with one of our newest member schools this term, St Mary’s C of E Primary in St Neots, we hope we can support the school with coaching and professional development support for their staff. Always a pleasure to visit a new member school – let’s hope we make them feel welcome.

Another successful Children’s University graduation at the end of January; over 30 learners being recognised for their out of school learning. Something I am particularly proud of. The number of Passports to Learning in the community grows month by month as do the number of schools taking part and the size of offer in the community – great stuff!

2 reports were completed during February – both commissioned by us; “How can we retain and develop our teachers at a time of budget cuts whilst continuing to raise standards”? & “2014-15 CPD Impact and evaluation of the PLP”. Both are superb and provide plenty of food for thought for us.  We’ll be launching the former as widely as possible in due course. My thanks to the 40+ schools who contributed to the reports.

Our outward facing work doesn’t slow down either – developing a good relationship with the London Leadership Strategy – focusing on SEN Leaders – more to come on that one. We’ve also started some work with Evolve – looking at developing a cross-sector (Public Health and Education) programme utilising Health mentors in schools.  An area we are particularly determined to support; cross sector working for the benefit of children and young people.

We also had the honour of being invited to meet HRH Duchess of Cornwall who came to Peterborough to celebrate with us the success of the National Literacy Trust Hub – superb work in schools and communities raising the profile of and access to literacy for all.

All in all another stimulating start to the term; plenty to get excited about; plenty to be proud of.

Number 3

16th – 20th November 2015

Want a week that invigorates? interests? excites? Then I didn’t need to look much further than this one.

It started with a very positive meeting with Laura Gander Howe, Director, Children, Young People and Learning from Arts Council England – exploring how Peterborough is grasping, enhancing and making the most of its culture! We’re proud to have started the conversation and thinking around setting up an organisation which has now become its own CIC – PHACE – Peterborough Heritage, Arts and Culture in Education.  We discussed how Peterborough, by bringing together the cultural providers, children and young people and schools are beginning to make a real difference to the exposure to and interaction with heritage, culture and arts in the city. I look forward to see how this grows and makes a difference to the lives of our young people.

We launched some superb pilot programmes this week too – programmes for school to work with Potential Plus UK, TLC Live,  Driver Youth Trust and Athene Communications – this is a new area for us; helping schools to develop deeper relationships with some of our partner organisations. I’ll keep you up to date with how these pilots progress.

We wrapped up the week with the annual primary heads’ conference – 2 days of high quality professional development, space to reflect and time to work together.  Speakers, workshops, activities, challenges and laughter – all squeezed into 48 hours. Great to have Lindy Barclay  – kicking off the first day with her common sense approach to having the best team you can. Heads then had workshops with Lindy andSteve Russell; followed by presentations from Kieran Scarff, Academy manager at Peterborough United from and Georgie Windsor our Youth MP for Peterborough.  In the afternoon we welcomed members of the City Leadership Forum to explore Leadership in Challenging Circumstances – heads valued the chance to hear from different sectors including business and health.  Hywel Roberts provided a superb end to the day – funny, poignant and passionate about learners and learning. The second day we heard from more inspirational colleagues including Andy Sprakes and Kerry Scott – head teachers who had experienced real challenges in their schools and through being brave and innovative had overcome them and grown amazing schools.

It’s busy in Peterborough, Cathedral Square is resplendent with the Christmas tree and the lights; shop fronts are preparing for the run up to the Christmas period and holiday. Schools are busy too; preparing nativity shows, carol concerts, Christmas fayres and continuing to provide the best conditions for learning for our learners day in day out. It was always my favourite time of year when I was teaching.  And though I now have the privilege of being invited to watch and hear schools at Christmas, I still miss the build up, the excitement, the fun of the time of year.  Tables covered in glitter, paper, scissors and glue; rushing to singing practice, performing to families and ensuring our learners had the most memorable experiences possible.

Number 2

9th – 13th November 2015

Another week flies by. And yes, it has been fun!

I read recently that organisations ought to ‘reach, engage, nurture and measure’ – with their audience, clients and customers to the best of their ability.  I’m proud to say I think we do these well, but there’s always room for improvement. In fact we’ve just launched into an in depth thought leadership piece with a well respected PR consultancy firm to explore this further – I’ll let you know what people think as we get the results.

Reaching people is challenging – you’ve got to get the right message, the right contact point, the right feel…much of our growth and success is from word of mouth; not marketing and sales. I think this makes us stronger. Our most recent member school, our 76th!, joined after a conversation with colleagues from within their academy trust who were working in other schools who are PLP members.

Engaging people is challenging – you’ve got to make sure that what you’re offering and the quality you offer is top drawer; it’s got to be on the money and clearly going to make a difference to their school, teachers & ultimately all learners. We’re asking our members a lot about their wants and needs for the forthcoming terms and years. People need to feel that they’ve been part of the process or engagement is almost impossible – we try to spend time each day talking to our schools.

Nurturing people is challenging – maybe the most challenging for us; we respond to our teachers’ needs; provide high quality and high impact courses – but how well do we know what the impact in the classroom will be? how well do we know what a difference we are making to the delegates as professionals?  Part of our work on the thought leadership piece is to better understand what happens to our teachers in our schools after attending our courses – in the short term and over time. How do we contribute to recruiting and retaining the best teaching staff in our schools, is something we really want to fully understand.

Measuring people is challenging – we’re used to being measured in the education world – perhaps more than we would like! We try to measure what is important to us; by talking to our members, teachers and course leaders.  We keep an eye on national trends, local needs and we listen to our members.

As we continue to grow we are mindful of the need to be as good as we can be with ‘reaching, engaging, nurturing and measuring’ our members, colleagues and learners.

Number 1

2nd – 6th November 2015

I’m told that writing a blog is another good way of communicating to your audience; letting them know what’s been happening within the organisation in a short, snappy piece of prose. Having never done one before this should be an interesting challenge.

Here we go then.

Life as a CEO is never dull. When I took the job just over a year ago I wanted to continue the wonderful work which had been achieved up until then but also enhance, strengthen and grow. Trying to maintain, deliver and develop the vision of the partnership, bring to life exciting opportunities for our schools and learners, meet new organisations and supporting the wider educational landscape in and around Peterborough is all part and parcel of a week in the life of. How time flies…

We’ve had a very good start to the new academic year (September seems a while ago now!). Over 400 delegates and learners have attended our professional development and in school activity programmes since the 1st week of term and we are continuing to attract new schools and opportunities – more about that later on.

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to and attending a number of exciting events; a tour of the new Priestgate Vaults at the Peterborough Museum, Fulbridge Academy’s 80th Birthday party and the regular steering group meeting for Fairtrade Peterborough. This was mixed in between meetings aboutnew course programmes, commissioning and brokering  on behalf of schools, developing the marketing for Spring and Summer terms 2016 (and Autumn 2016 already!) and always trying to keep in touch with schools, staff and learners where I can.

Friday wrapped up the week brilliantly with a chance to visit and have a tour of one of Peterborough’s newest attractions and learning destinations. If you haven’t had chance to explore the Priestgate Vaults as yet – it’s well worth doing! I’m sure learners would absolutely love it – going underground and back in time…watch out for the ‘Ghost Room’ though! Carol Law and her team have done a brilliant job at developing this resource for our learners.

Fulbridge Academy was 80 years young last week. I had the pleasure of being invited to celebrate with them. The weather didn’t dampen the celebrations – with 800 learners out on the streets, representing each decade since the school opened – music, fancy dress and song all the way around the school and surrounding streets.  An honour to have been invited and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We are proud to support Fairtrade Peterborough and I attend the steering group meetings on our behalf and to link in schools and teachers – I’m particularly excited about the Primary Schools’ Conference planned for next February. The voluntary steering group work incredibly hard to support schools, communities and businesses access Fairtrade produce, resources and learning.  We hope to achieve Fairtrade City status next year! You can find out more about our work here.

We welcomed 2 new member schools to the partnership this week; we’re delighted to welcome St Mary’s C of E Primary Academy in St Neots and Eyrescroft Primary School in Peterborough.

All in all it was a stimulating week; so much variety, challenge and engagement; I enjoyed every minute – just like learning should be really…

Next time, the run up to Christmas and reflecting on the Autumn term as a whole.

Speak soon,

Iain Simper