‘Future Focused’ learning platform launched to provide comprehensive training for lifelong learners

A new Inspiring Futures through Learning (IFtL) innovation is set to revolutionise the way its practitioners access resources to support high-quality teaching.

IFtL’s Varsity has brought together an extensive bank of online resources (including articles, podcasts and research) and video library to showcase best practice across its schools. Hosted on the IFtL Learning Platform, themes and subjects cover Subject and Curriculum Knowledge, High-Quality Teaching, Behaviour and Attitudes, Leadership and Management, as well as a bespoke section on IFtL’s vision, values and culture of belonging. It is designed to facilitate ongoing professional development through quality assured content which supports ‘anywhere/anytime’ interactive learning on any device.

“At IFtL we have always invested in and offered a range of courses to support our colleagues’ professional and personal development,” explained the Trust’s Head of School Development and Improvement Melanie Saunders. “Through the pandemic we inevitably had to move our CPD online in order to continue to capture our audience. Whilst this was done remotely, and we were doing more on screen, in line with our future focused ambition we wanted to solidify our approach in a way that would also support colleagues’ capacity and engagement.

“Colleagues now benefit from high-quality CPD designed to develop and nurture their knowledge, skills and understanding and access quality assured videos which exemplify the high standards and expertise that are found across IFtL. Already colleagues are discovering our wide range of videos and collaborating to create and share playlists. Unlike traditional classroom-based training or Zoom-style workshops, this platform allows them to access content when and where they choose.

“We want to develop a consistent cross-trust offer where schools and individuals effectively identify problems and seek solutions using the resources we provide. We don’t prescribe a definitive answer, instead we present a range of thinking and ideas that will inform and impact on their decision-making, but the principle is that leadership teams recognise the barriers they are facing and how they can overcome them.”

Shaun Hughes, IFtL’s Digital Technology and Accessibility Lead, said: “We are really excited by the opportunities that Varsity offers all colleagues across our trust. From innovative practice to tried-and-true research, there is a wealth of educational content available that will support us all in developing as lifelong learners. Our learning platform provides a chance to collaborate with others, be it engaging in content or creating our own. We can’t wait to see how it develops in the future.”

Erin Stewart, Deputy Headteacher Glebe Farm School, commented: “What we have here is an innovative and forward-thinking approach to high-quality CPD at scale, meaning total accessibility to the latest research-informed best practice in schools. IFtL’s Varsity is an exciting movement in staff development, for our family of schools in an online community, with a plethora of resources to improve education for all.”

Tom Billingham, Undergraduate Programme Lead at Two Mile Ash Initial Teacher Training Partnership, added: “IFtL’s Varsity will transform how we access, collaborate on and implement high-quality guidance founded on innovative theory, robust research and best practice in schools which will consistently impact on our capacity to achieve outstanding experiences and outcomes for pupils and colleagues.”

Investing in staff development to create innovative, research-led, career pathways is one of our strategic drivers,” said IFtL CEO Sarah Bennett. “To nurture, train, recruit, develop, deploy and retain great professionals throughout their careers and the wider system we serve. All colleagues within IFtL use their professional learning to drive the knowledge, skills and understanding to develop inspiring visions, motivating development opportunities and impact on progress and outcomes.”

IFtL is a multi-academy trust operating on Milton Keynes and Corby.

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