No longer are schools solely looking at their LEA for CPD support. Schools are picking and choosing the CPD that best fits their school’s needs. That’s fine for courses but what about sharing good practice, moderation, ideas and general chit chat? Well, usually that involves a school cluster (or I’m guessing now an academy chain). But that model has always seemed flawed to me. Quite apart from the inter — politics of local schools (often fighting over the same catchment areas), local schools do not equal local, shared visions and are not necessarily the best fit for sharing good practice.

So it got me thinking.

What we need is a model where schools can setup collaborative, cpd focused groups with other similar minded schools. The only way that would be possible across the country would be in using technology. And the only technology that is simple enough for non-techie school staff is a message board forum. There’s always edugeek as a traditional forum for those technology focused and the TES for general chit chat and teacher to teacher support. So I started looking around for one that would be fit for this purpose.

My primary aim was to find something that would work for our school, for example, sharing a best practice space with other schools going on a Maths Mastery journey. I also wanted it to be ‘growable’ so that (purely selfishly) our school could potentially tap into a great range of good practice from a range of other schools. So the model needed to have the ability to setup groups for a whole range of purposes. School cluster space? Check. Sets of hub schools for any curriculum area? Check. A place to moderate writing? Check. General place to discuss and share? Check.

I started with Lefora but found it to be, well… dated. There’s really not very much out there for a ‘modern’ concept in forums where you can utilise the same kind of methods used in social media (mention someone to notify and include them in a forum post). That is, apart from the platform that SmartThings uses for its community. Discourse.

Discourse is an open-source, bang up to date, easy to use message board forum. So I set it up (with more than a little help from a co-founder for what has proved to be a bargain one off ‘get yourself good to go’ price).

And so here it is.. da da…. I give you www.discussion.education.

Anyone can sign up to access the open message boards and anyone can request a new private group. Just send me a message on the platform.

I’ll be really interested to see how the platform scales if it becomes useful but most importantly I really hope it becomes a place where schools can work together to share good practice and CPD.