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Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion

Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion

Our Story

#FESpeaks

Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion is a multi campus institution set in beautiful South West Wales. We have been active in action research for three years.

To begin at the beginning…

Our Culture of Curiosity adventure began in March 2018. A small group came together with a passion to make meaningful change for our learners and organisation as whole led by practitioner enquiry. With a huge pile of flip chart paper, a stack of post-it notes and a vision to empower our staff to see value in their thinking we set about creating a framework in which our culture and the idea of curiosity could thrive.

With a long established focus on individualised professional learning through our Excellence Pathways the evolution to action based research felt like the next natural and exciting step. At the heart of our Culture of Curiosity lies the ethos of ‘you can make a difference, what do you want to change’. A statement of fact that shows our staff that their experience, knowledge, expertise and, most importantly, their voice matters and has the power for change.

Our vision is of becoming a centre of excellence for post-compulsory educational research in Wales, through developing an inspiring and innovative teaching and learning culture, underpinned by staff research. We are striving to encourage all staff regardless of experience, level of teaching and subject area to undertake close to practice research in order to enhance the teaching and learning experience college wide.  All of this work is focussed on empowering our staff, encouraging them to recognise their own potential, to challenge assumptions and to share their excellent practice both internally and on a much wider platform. We value the importance of supporting our staff to be innovative, creative, brave and forward thinking in their approach to teaching and learning.

At the end of 2019 and to celebrate our pilot  year of research  work, we held our first Festival of Practice over two days in July. With over 60 members of staff sharing their research work with their peers it was an incredible and inspiring atmosphere. We were very excited to welcome some incredible guest speakers who supported our staff in recognising the value and power of action research.  Through workshop platforms, staff showcased their work and gave their peers the opportunity to debate, test and explore their findings. With a focus on the practical, many of the sessions involved the sharing of tools and techniques that could instantly be applied to teaching and learning right across the college.

In our third year of our Culture of Curiosity we have secured professional development funding from the Welsh Government to release 30 members of staff from their teaching for 2 or 3 hours a week for the full academic year. All of their research is exploring the umbrella theme of Blended Learning and will be working towards our second large scale Festival of Practice in June 2021. To support their work they have access to an exciting guest speaker programme, peer review networks, research toolkit sessions and one to one support.

We, as a college, believe in the importance of close to practice research and the incredible and exciting impact that a culture of curiosity can have on our staff and learners.

Three Recommendations

1. Get on Twitter

There is an amazing Action Research community out there just waiting to help and support your journey…there is no need to do this in isolation.

2. Look out for research events

Look out for research events where like minded people are sharing their stories and seeking collaboration – such as the FE Research Meets and the Learning and Skills Research Network events.

3. Encourage staff to produce small ‘Think Pieces’ for publishing

It is amazing the impact this has on their ability to value their own thinking and voice. There are plenty of places to pitch pieces such to such as TES and the JoyFE magazine.

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