Teachers, Special Needs Learning Support Assistants (SNLSAs), technicians, nursery nurses, nurses, librarians and secretaries from all schools gathered recently on the Bayside/Westside school site to participate in a training day which consisted of a wide range of education-focused workshops and sessions tailor-made to specific roles. Students currently completing their PGCE at the University of Gibraltar were also invited to attend and were able to experience a day of training in preparation for their future career in education.
The event was designed to offer teacher, SNLSA and nursery nurse participants choice and variety, with over 100 different workshops of an hour and a half on offer over the course of the day. Participants were invited to select the 3 workshops that most interested them and/or that would be most useful to them in their daily role.
Workshop topics focused on a wide range of 60 foci directly related to learning and teaching including amongst others: the characteristics of an effective learner; positive behaviour strategies; improving attendance; health and safety; risk assessments; developing children holistically; creating opportunities for children with SEND; fine motor skills; regulation strategies and sensory diets; bereavement support; climate change and its importance in education; STEM; phonics; spreadsheets and how to increase efficiency through digitisation; coaching and mentoring; and CAD/CAM & basic machinery skills. One workshop participant, a teacher from the Secondary sector, observed how well received the element of choice on the day was, and shared that it proved to be “…a wonderful opportunity for learning and sharing good practice with other schools”.
A large number of Education staff members (including teachers, counsellors, educational psychologists, education advisers and our supported internship/employment coordinator) contributed to the day by leading workshops which showcased areas of practice that they are leading on within their schools or in which they have professional interest as an individual. The contributions of these individuals provided real contextual insight to fellow colleagues’ professional development and the cross-sector and cross-school nature of the organisation of the day very much enhanced the professional discourse throughout.
Colleagues from other government departments and agencies supported the event by running specialised sessions and workshops for education staff. The variety of workshops on the day was enriched by the workshops organised by the Care Agency; the Human Resources Department; the Wellbeing Team; the Department of the Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change and Heritage; and the GHA. Additionally, there were some workshops led by UK providers.
The Department of Education has a very large team of staff and it values the professional contributions of all of the roles within each school. The Department of Education recognises that each role enhances the educational provision that our schools offer, and sees all roles as being integral to our educational community. In order to ensure there was investment in the development of as many distinct roles as possible, the Education-wide INSET day also offered distinct specific full day training sessions for the school secretaries and the Science lab technicians, with foci that were bespoke to these roles.
“It was fantastic to see all our staff from all of our schools come together to participate in this INSET day”, enthused the Director of Education, Keri Scott. “Meeting in one shared location on the same day allowed Education professionals to gather together as an Education community and to continue to develop strong working relationships across schools and between sectors. The intention was to use this new format for an INSET day to provide our staff with a large variety of learning opportunities and to establish a more meaningful and dynamic community of learning. I think the day was very well received by staff and is something we will build on in the future”.
A senior leader from the Primary sector said how “the feedback from colleagues has been EXTREMELY POSITIVE and we are already planning internal feedback sessions”, with another senior leader stating that “today was an amazing day. Everyone I saw and spoke to from all sectors was full of positive excitement”. Of critical importance was the impact that the training day had on staff, who are Education’s most valuable resource. Workshop leaders and participants alike took a lot from the day and observed that there had been “many lightbulb moments”. One workshop participant stated that they had “really enjoyed the day” and that they had found the workshops they attended “truly inspiring”. It was a fantastic day which, hopefully, has planted many seeds to be developed further in the future and which benefited tremendously from the wealth of knowledge, experience, insight and enthusiasm of all Education staff members.
Minister for Education, John Cortes, commented, “It was an extraordinary day for the all the staff working in the Education sector, and the feedback has been tremendous. Everyone contributed and everyone learnt, and as a team-building exercise too it was extremely successful. I could feel the positive vibes when I visited during their lunch break and spoke to many of the staff. A great use too of our new secondary school campus. There are plans to make this at least an annual event. The main thing though – I am certain that the day will result in real benefits to the teaching and learning experience for staff and for the children who we are guiding through their educational journey.”