Learning at Work week is an annual event in May. It aims to to put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development at work. This year it takes place from 14th-20th May and the theme is 'Networked for Learning'.

ScOPT are running a series of articles on the website to tie in with Learning at Work week.

This post is by ScOPT Chair Fiona Stansfield talks about staying networked for learning with ScOPT.


Benefits of trusteeship – staying networked for learning with ScOPT!

Fiona Stansfield

I first became involved with ScOPT around 9 years ago when I had just finished my practice teacher training. For me, ScOPT was an opportunity to stay connected to the world of practice learning in a way that my role within a local authority social work team did not afford me. My introduction to ScOPT was slow, becoming a committee member about 4 years ago, then membership secretary, treasurer and as of last year I became the Chair person. 2 years ago ScOPT became a registered charity with SCIO and we continue to grow as an organisation in a variety of different ways. Drawing from my own experience with ScOPT, I wanted to write a short piece of how to stay networked as a trustee and what I have found to be some of the benefits.

The key to being a successful trustee and staying networked is good communication. This is not new information I know, but in reality it can be difficult to achieve this. Trustees of ScOPT are all very busy people, carrying out their trustee duties on top of their ‘day jobs’. 2 years ago we held a development day and the main theme was communication. Until this point e-mail had been the main form of communication and to be honest it was confusing and repetitive, information was getting lost or the right people had not been included in the e-mail. So we agreed to use an online forum to communicate. We created a space within ScOPTbox, our online practice learning library, much like an intranet space, to focus our communication. In this space we communicate through discussion forums; we use wikis to record our meeting minutes; a vault for our treasury information and governance; and a techy space for our web team members. All trustees have equal access to this space and therefore all are equally responsible to communicate through it. This form of communication has been crucial to staying networked for trustee business and means topics are clearly labelled and there is no cross over or missed information. It has been liberating to be released from the e-mail chain of replying and forwarding and it keeps our communication objectives clear.

FLARE - we all recognise that guilt we can feel about not responding to communications in a timely manner or not being able to keep up with things but the reality is that life happens and at times, other things have to take priority. As trustees we are not geographically close to one another and our ScOPT business is not daily work, therefore, we needed a means to notify each other that life was busy or disrupted and we would not be able to fully participate in board business for a period of time, hence the flare. We use this on our discussion board to notify other trustees and seek the right support to ensure that board business carries on, even when an individual can’t for a period of time. This has been a lifeline for us in supporting one another as trustees and a real winner in promoting team work.

Trusteeship can open up your professional network in all kinds of unforeseen and advantageous ways that will only become clear once you have taken the leap in to trusteeship. Ensuring you have access to diverse people from different background can be useful in many different ways and opens doors to new opportunities all the time both for the development of ScOPT but also for an individual’s professional development.

Being a trustee can be a very interesting experience, not least because it allows you to adapt and apply everything you have learned in your day job to an entirely new context but also through developing your skills and expertise in new ways. Through trusteeship you can gain a clearer idea of your own professional strengths and weaknesses whilst simultaneously learning altogether new skills. For me understanding how to adapt my professional knowledge to useful ends within a charity is a good reminder of my own versatility, it gives me not only confidence but also challenges me to push the boundaries of my expertise.

Simple measures around communication have supported ScOPT and my participation as a trustee and this network is the foundation for our growth and learning both as an individual and as a collective organisation. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a ScOPT trustee you can find out further information at https://www.scopt.co.uk/introduction/trustees/being-a-trustee-of-scopt


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