Samantha Torr

Alpha Teaching School Hub is the designated Hub for over 200 schools across Babergh, Colchester, Ipswich and Tendring. It is building a collaborative network which connects excellence for schools, and by schools, to provide the ‘Golden Threads’ of CPD at each stage of a teacher’s career including: ITT, Early Career Teachers, Appropriate Body commissioning, developing middle and senior leaders using National Professional Qualifications, and additional Continued Professional Development needs.

The Hub is headed up by Samantha Torr, who was Consortium Director of Colchester Teacher Training (CTTC) – another NASBTT member – for three years prior to assuming her new role in July 2021. “When first joined CTTC, the co-director explained that they were part of NASBTT,” Samantha recalled. “As I was new to ITT at that time, I went along to a NASBTT meeting, which Emma Hollis was leading, and she discussed the landscape and policy changes that NASBTT had recently achieved with the Department for Education. This was the most helpful and informative meeting in my introduction to ITT. It was an opportunity to come along with ideas and discuss these with other colleagues.”

Samantha outlined how the relationship with NASBTT developed during her years leading the SCITT. “In those early days, and this is still the case today, the NASBTT team would quickly respond to complex questions I put to them via email or telephone,” she said. “This was so important to me having previously been in a Senior Assistant Principal role, with responsibility for pastoral and curriculum, and coming into the world of ITT. The NASBTT partnership has evolved over time: I was involved in feeding back on NASBTT’s Curriculum Design and Assessment toolkit, as part of a working group, and that enabled me to extend my own network and therefore, share my learning with others. Through this I met Stuart Russell (NASBTT Trustee) at Kent and Medway Training (KMT) who undertook external moderation for CTTC and I reciprocated that arrangement, completing KMT’s last year.”

Embarking on her new position, Samantha said NASBTT Teaching School Hub membership was an obvious decision. She explained: “I am Vice Principal at Colchester County High School for Girls, as well as Director of Alpha Teaching School Hub, so I knew that NASBTT support to help me develop in this new organisation would be valuable. Having NASBTT membership also supports ITT provision in the area we operate in. The subject networks offered by NASBTT are critical, as we are working in partnership with our local curriculum hubs and teaching alliances to support evidence informed practice of these existing networks and ones whereby as regional hubs we will look to meet additional need. We have the opportunity to share ideas around those subject networks. I have also attended various events provided by NASBTT, including a stand-out session on dual coding with Oliver Caviglioli, because it was important for me in my previous role to see the engagement of ITT trainees.”

Samantha highlighted how NASBTT’s member representation and advocacy has grown “significantly” over the past three years. NASBTT has its finger on the pulse in terms of new policy changes coming through,” she said. “As we have 219 schools within our area, it is really important to have another body having an overview of this as well as ourselves in providing that level of strategic support. We have been able to add our subject leaders on to the NASBTT portal and also give our partners who we work with access to the Appropriate Body area. Beyond that, the network of ITT providers in the area are all NASBTT members, so we all have that connection.”

As the ITT landscape evolves, Samantha reflected on the major impacts of NASBTT membership for her own progression. “I had not externally moderated within ITT until last year and I looked to NASBTT to do that effectively and robustly,” she said. “In terms of curriculum development, there are constant changes to the shared curriculum and now with the Core Content Framework, NASBTT facilitated the considerations given to the re-development of the ITT curriculum. Given the value that I have had from them in the past three years, I know exactly what we can look forward to within the Teaching School Hub membership.”

Case study developed: October 2021

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