Partner Spotlight: Shropshire & Telford Education Partnership (STEP)

Partner Spotlight: Shropshire & Telford Education Partnership (STEP)

Each month we showcase one of our delivery partners who help us develop, deliver and facilitate our programmes nationwide. This month, we caught up with the team at  Shropshire & Telford Education Partnership (STEP).

Tell us about yourselves

Shropshire and Telford Education Partnership (STEP) was established in 2021, from four previously designated Teaching School Alliances, Severn Training and Schools Alliance, Salop Teaching Partnership, Shropshire Primary Partnership and Alliance of Leading Learning. It is one of 87 Teaching School Hubs in England. STEP is delighted to have been re-designated as a Teaching School Hub for a further four years, from September 2024 until August 2028.

We work with schools across the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin areas of the West Midlands to ensure teachers new to the profession are well supported and can progress with confidence to successfully complete the two-year induction period.

Why did you choose Best Practice Network?

In 2021, STEP carried out a market comparison of three Lead Providers who were offering delivery of the ECF programme.  What stood out the most was that Best Practice Network were the most cost-effective and also the most flexible in terms of the programme offered.  For example, offering online learning modules to supplement the training and online catch-up sessions should the face-to-face training be missed.  Additionally, one of our other STEP partners had already worked with BPN offering NPQs and so from their own very positive experience, BPN came highly recommended. 

We have been extremely happy with our choice!  We are particularly impressed that BPN consistently seeks out and listens to feedback from their Delivery Partners; adapting and improving their curriculum, systems and processes to best support all candidates and users. We know that if ever anyone has a query, there is always someone at Best Practice Network who will respond promptly which is so crucial for our hard-working teachers and school leaders.

Facilitators are also aided by the team covering all aspects of administration, from registering attendance to monitoring engagement, leaving facilitators free to engage fully with participants to make the most of their training time.

What are the benefits of TA Level 3 for schools in the Shropshire and Telford area? 

As a Teaching School Hub, we are committed to supporting the professional development of everyone dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people. We have developed a workforce planning menu to help guide all our colleagues through their career pathway. We believe the Teaching Assistant Level 3 qualification is a crucial starting point along that career pathway. Following on from this, there is Higher Level Teaching Assistant Training (HLTA), which may lead members of support staff to pursue an undergraduate degree or using their degree to train to teach with us, through our Lead School Partner route of a Post Graduate Certificate in Education(PGCE ) with Qualified Teacher Status(QTS).

Following Initial Teacher Training (ITT), the next steps involve providing high-quality Early Career Framework training. We are proud to be working with Best Practice Network to deliver the Early Career Framework for teachers and their mentors. This high-quality support ensures that our teachers receive the support coaching, mentoring and professional development they need to embed their learning and establish themselves as classroom practitioners.

Please tell us about your background in SEND and how you have collaborated on the development of the NPQ for SENCos

Once teachers have gained experience as classroom practitioners and are ready to take on the responsibility of a subject leader, the National Professional Qualifications provide the next stage of the career pathway, with specialist and leadership qualifications, including the full suite of National Professional Qualifications. The NPQ for SENDCos qualification is a statutory requirement for those new to taking on the role of SENCo.

Members of our team have been involved in writing some of the materials for the NPQ for SENCos programme. Their experience as a SENCo and Headteacher has proved vital for this, as has working with our special schools to provide outreach support for pupils with complex SEND across our local authority. We would recommend the NPQ SENDCo qualification to all senior leaders, as this will enhance the culture of inclusivity for pupils with SEND in a mainstream school.

What do you think about the latest ECF changes? 

One of the positive things about working with Best Practice Network is that they pay close attention to participant feedback and update their programmes accordingly. Some recent improvements include the addition of stretch and challenge materials for ECTs to further develop themselves. This is particularly beneficial for those who have previously worked in different education roles or have followed the Assessment Only route to QTS. Best Practice has also increased their SEN materials; a crucial theme to support our new teachers enhance their practice and allow them to share recent research with their school colleagues.  

Best Practice Network has streamlined events this year, which has had a positive impact on both ECT and ECM workload and it will be good to see this developing further with the proposed changes from 2025 too. The addition of ‘Mentor of the Month’ has shone a positive spotlight on the importance of mentors and how significant their role is in developing an ECT, giving them a secure foundation for growth and therefore helping retain them in the profession for the long-term.

What advice would you give to Early Career Teachers? 

  1. Routines for everything – in the classroom with students and with your workload – be consistent, it helps to bring order and calm amongst the occasional chaos!
  2. Organisation – keep on top of self-directed study, know when your meetings (mentor and BPN) are, as well as your activities in school
  3. Have everything ready for your meetings – particularly your AB progress reviews – have your evidence available so you can show this off!
  4. Use your PPA and ECT time effectively – work-life balance is crucial
  5. You can say no – we love keen ECTs but you need to remember you are learning, so don’t over commit and burn out
  6. Ask, ask, ask – if in doubt speak up; this is the best way to learn and we have all been in your shoes, so please don’t hold back

Looking for more information?

You can find out more information about what we offer at Shropshire & Telford Education Partnership (STEP)  here

If you would like any more information on our ECF programme, get in contact with us:


 Tel: +44 (0) 117 920 9200 (8.30am-5.30pm, Mon-Fri)

Visit our ECF page