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George McMillan: National scale, local roots

George McMillan

NLE & Executive Principal of Harris Academy Greenwich

One problem education has faced over the past few years in England is that it has become more fragmented and one consequence of that is that professional development can be quite disjointed. The training one teacher will experience at one end of the country might be very different to what their colleague will see at another.

As I see it, a huge strength of the National Institute of Teaching is that, regardless of where you are in the country, you’ll have access to high quality professional development, whichever of their partner schools delivers the programmes. Their programmes will be research-driven and their training of the trainers will be first-class, all held together by robust design principles and effective delivery.

Although the content will be the same, there will be some degree of variation as they will allow for regional context. Context is so key in education. For example you cannot have a London teacher determining what matters to a Norfolk school; a city school doesn’t have the same challenges as a rural school will. So although their principles will hold true wherever you train, as a school-led organisation, they understand that everyone’s context will be different.

As well as this understanding of context, NIoT facilitators are school practitioners who leaders on the ground in schools right now. Not only do they know the issues of their participants, they also understand how it actually feels to be facing them. When I have delivered for the NPQ programmes, it has been easy to make a connection with those I’m speaking to because I have been in their shoes recently and can give examples of how I’ve made things work (and how I haven’t). Facilitators can use the latest research-based theory and bring it to life with real examples which might have happened just yesterday.

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