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Professional Development Programme for Advanced Practitioners: 2020-2021 – Mentoring Support Package

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#APConnect-New Partnership with BAMEed & EQuality Training

The team at touchconsulting Ltd is very excited to partner with the BAMEed Network & EQuality Training for year 3 of the Education and Training Foundation’s #APConnect programme to ensure we are working with APs from a much wider, and more diverse pool of educators. This has been something we have wanted to do for a long time and we are delighted to have the opportunity to do so.

What’s #APConnect again?

#APConnect is a professional development programme for those operating in AP-type roles [1] across the Further Education and Training sector. It is commissioned and funded by the Education and Training Foundation and being organised by touchconsulting Ltd. You can read more and register your interest here. You won’t be tied into anything, but we will let you know as soon as bookings are live. But that’s not what we wanted to share…!

(*it doesn’t matter if your job title isn’t ‘Advanced Practitioner’).

So what do we want to share?

My colleague Lou Mycroft has coined the term equalities-mentoring in our team Slack space to describe our thinking and work. It’s apt. It embodies our determination to enact equality and diversity in a very practical way. Our ambition is to recruit and support 15 educators operating in AP-type roles from Black, Asian and other ‘minority ethnic’ [2] communities and/or declaring a disability, onto this programme – now in its third year.


Our motivation hasn’t arise out of programme evaluations, but from our own experiences of training in rooms full of white faces. In fact, the most recent FE Workforce Data, commissioned by ETF [3] shows the proportion of BAME staff hasn’t changed substantially over time and is slightly lower than the England and Wales population as a whole (the data is not straightforward as the last census was 9 years ago). The compelling point is we know from our own research [4]:

  • APs are-in the main-employed on substantive, if not permanent, contracts rather than sessionally. Often, they are on some form of career/leadership path, should they choose to pursue it.
  • The proportion of BAME middle/senior leaders has slightly decreased over time, whereas the proportion of BAME students has risen substantially, from 13.3% to 21.3%, despite overall FE participation dropping by 1.6 million [5].
  • FE-specific research is hard to come by, but we know from the work of Professor Kalwant Bhopal and others [6] that Black and Asian mentors can have a profoundly effective impact on teachers of colour.
  • We also know (from work of researchers in the US and UK) that students of colour benefit from having at least one Black, Asian, Latinx or Indigenous (US) teacher in their lives.
  • Nearly 12% of the UK workforce declare a disability, according to a census from nearly a decade ago. Only 6% of the FE workforce declare a disability and, of those, half decline to say what their disability is (they are most likely to declare a physical disability).
  • We know that co-producing learning experiences with someone who has lived experience of mental or physical ill-health can be hugely beneficial [7].
  • Yet students with disabilities are 4.3 percentage points more likely to achieve a qualification than they were 7 years ago. We are getting something right for students – but not for staff?

It seems reasonable to conclude that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people are increasingly gathering at the least powerful end of FE. It seems also reasonable to conclude that the mental health impact of COVID-19 is likely to start showing itself soon, amongst staff and students – and that staff are either less likely to have mental health problems (or, more probably, less likely to declare that they have) than the general workforce.

The team at touchconsulting deliver a national programme on behalf of  the Education and Training Foundation. We have a responsibility to contribute to greater equality and diversity in FE. So what are we going to do?


We are thrilled to partner with the BAMEed Network and Dr Laura Chapman of EQuality Training, known to friends and colleagues as Mole.

We met with Lizana Oberholzer from BAMEed earlier this week to scope the mentoring package and we’ll be catching up with Mole soon. We are in early stages but can assure you if you are thinking of dipping your toe into the #APConnect programme during 2020-2021 you will be able to apply:

  • 1:1 mentoring support from Mole herself or a carefully matched mentor from the BAMEed Network
  • Access to four 2-hour purposeful workshops in 2021 on the themes of:
    • Language of Respect (Run by Mole Chapman, author of The Language of Respect)
    • Who are You? (Run by Lizana Oberholzer, BAMEed Network)
    • Personal Branding & Social Media (by Lizana & Lou Mycroft)
    • Blogging & Publishing (by Lizana and co-ordinated with the work of the #APConnect Writing Team)

We have 15 fully subsidised places if you are from BAME communities and/or declaring a disability and you book onto one of the programme pathways. Register interest here. We hope that this initiative will make a significant contribution to the diversification of the workforce at levels of influence.


By Joss Kang & Lou Mycroft

In the meantime…

Do follow the refreshed twitter handle @touchcons_FE and #APConnect for updates and as always, if you have any queries about any of the programme pathways, please contact Joss Kang


[1] You don’t have to have ‘Advanced Practitioner’ as a job title.
[2] We use this language respectfully. We know that the acronym ‘BAME’ and the term ‘minority ethnic’ is being challenged by campaigners and we view this project as an opportunity to educate ourselves further, including how to refer to white ‘ethnic minorities’, which we’ve had particular difficulty with here.
[4] Survey of APConnect Year 1 participants, 2019.
[6]White Privilege: The Myth of a Post Racial Society (and the body of academic research which supports it).


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