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Bridging is a key part of the APLP model for transforming practice and takes place at carefully chosen points in the timetable. The model has been co-constructed with colleagues from Lead Schools.


Bridging is one way of linking theory and practice. It involves the student-teacher, practicing teacher and University Tutor in three phases of practice, each one followed by a period of reflection and revision.


This process is shown in the following diagram:

These phases can be adapted for different contexts, but broadly involve:

 Meet the ideas either in the university, school or the community and plan for testing; + Think research – what has been written about this area?

 Test the ideas in the classroom;
+ Think reflect – what was learnt about the strengths and challenges of the test phase?

 Share the ideas in a professional context with peers and the teaching practice community; + Think evaluate – how will personal practice be transformed for the better?

As student-teachers engage with this cyclical process and are supported in setting personal targets for development, their practice of teaching and learning is transformed and they are encouraged to become enquiring contributors of the teaching profession.


What makes successful bridging?


Some key points related to successful bridging are noted in the following table: 




Strong theoretical input that can be applied to different contexts e.g. classroom management or assessment for learning;

Clear and manageable pieces of reading;

Being responsive to ‘hot topics’ that have been identified during Professional Teaching Experience.

Clarity of expectation for the test and sharing phases.

Support from Senior/Class/Subject Mentor in testing/experimenting with ideas;

Opportunities to see experienced teachers modelling idea to be tested;

Supported discussions by Senior/Class/Subject Mentor in reflecting and refining testing phase;

Link to existing action plans and practice – needs to support PTE, rather than being an add-on.

Clarity of expectation – what is expected in the sharing session?

Open to critique – more than just reporting but engagement in critical thinking and shared reflection;

Discussion supported by teacher educators – an expert voice in the role of discussant;

Clear target-setting for personal practice – feeding forward;

Feedback to Class/Subject Mentor.



The Meet Phase

The “meet day” is co-constructed and co-delivered by university-based teacher educators (usually the network’s assigned Curriculum Tutor) and the Network Lead. This will either take place in the university or the Lead School. The network’s Professional Tutor may support these sessions if the Curriculum Tutor is unavailable. Suggestions for readings for each bridge will be provided prior to the “meet day”.


The Test Phase

The “test phase” will take place in the student-teacher’s placement school. The time allocated for this phase will vary according to the bridge. Within 48 hours of the “meet phase”, the student-teacher and Subject Mentor should meet to discuss the expectations of the “test phase” and necessary arrangements be put in place by the Senior/Class/Subject Mentor to support the student-teacher to test the bridge ideas. The Senior/Class/Subject Mentor should meet with the student-teacher during the “test phase” to discuss their findings and support their reflections. It is important that the ideas of the bridge are linked to the student-teacher’s practice, and that the Senior/Class/Subject Mentor sets related targets within the student-teacher’s learning journal.


The Share Phase

The “share day” usually takes place in the Lead School in a seminar format co-chaired by the Network Lead and University Tutor who will both act in the role of the discussant. Student-teachers will present their findings and reflections to the professional community (peers, teacher educators and practicing teachers as appropriate), and be encouraged to critique their thoughts and ideas in a social setting. Similarities and differences are explored, along with comparisons between the input in the meet stage, and the experiences in the test phase. The presentation will follow the structure of an Experience Template and may be used to exemplify professional teaching standards within their Professional Learning Passport (PLP).


Each student-teacher will be given ten minutes to present their reflections by sharing the first two sections of the Experience Template (“what you did and why?” and “what you have learned?”). This will be followed by five minutes of discussion.


In the plenary of the seminar, time is allocated for reflection, reimaging and reinvention, which allows student-teachers to transform their practice in light of the sharing experience. This part of the day will consider how the student-teacher has demonstrated certain professional teaching standards through the bridging experience and how they can set personal targets to move their practice forward.

The seminar is scheduled for the whole day. Larger networks may like to consider running two seminar groups, one led by the Network Lead and the other by the University Tutor. Any remaining time should be given to student-teachers to complete the third section of their Experience Template (“what next?”) and to consider their experiences in light of the requirements of the aligned assignment. Where this is not possible, students are expected to complete the third section within 48 hours of the “share day”.

The ‘share day’ of bridging is fundamentally important in enacting the transformative approach and in changing practice. To support this phase, the APLP has completed some work on the role of the discussant, who is typically the teacher educator.


The share sessions are actually creative opportunities focused on social reflection and the role of the discussant can be described under the following three headings:

  •   Organisational – how will the share session run?

  •   Developing critical thinking and reflection – how will the status quo be questioned and choices


  •   Re-imagine and re-invent – how will student-teachers engage with the content of the session in a

    way that allows them to identify personal targets for their own context? And, equally importantly, prevents them from dismissing ideas based solely on context, e.g. ‘I’m in a primary setting so the secondary presentation does not apply to me’.



    These aspects are expanded further in the table below:


    Organisational aspects Developing critical thinking and Re-imagine and re-invent


personal practice

Organises the room and make practical arrangements.

Listens carefully with an inquiry stance (questioning) to what is being shared.

Builds in ‘re-imagining and reinventing time’ to the session, where students are proactive in creating a ‘reimagined’ approach to their personal setting.


Organisational aspects Developing critical thinking and Re-imagine and re-invent reflection personal practice

Ensures the focus/method of the shared reflection is known to participants in advance – what is expected?

Prepares a running order for the feedback and shares this with participants beforehand.

Ensures the running order is followed throughout the session.

Takes a register and follows-up absences with Senior Mentor in relevant school.

Keeps the ‘Share’ to allocated time. All students have the same opportunity. Utilises a ‘please conclude’ sign.

Ensures appropriate amount of time is allocated for questions related to shared content.

Organise a way of material being available for student-teachers to access.

Thanks all contributors.

Uses appropriate methods to capture live the positive/ negative/ strengths and weaknesses.

Signposts the connections between the shared content and the relevant literature, research, theory, current pedagogy.

Creates a natural flow from presentation to discussion and allocate time to ‘improvement’ thinking and feedforward from audience for the sharer.

Utilises approaches that stimulate discussion from the audience.

Simplifies and highlights / records in plain view the ‘Key messages’ coming from the shared content draw attention to the story.

Offers a ‘critical eye’ through asking open questions focused on pedagogical choices.

If the audience questions/ discussion goes off on a lengthy tangent, refocuses the discussion.

Guide students in creative thinking (challenging assumptions, divergent thinking, combining, seeing remote associations) to reimagine for own context

Celebrates ‘effective uniqueness’ and explore the ‘interesting unusual’.

Returns to and leaves on ‘Big picture’ messages and not exit ‘bogged down’ with negative details.

Includes time for feedback of ‘reinvented ’pedagogic application during the session. What will this look like in your setting?

Ensures each student-teacher has articulated a personal target as a ‘take-away’ from the session.

Directs student-teachers (either during the share day if time allows, or within 48 hours if not) to complete the relevant sections of their PLP based on their reflections from the bridge.



Clarification of Roles in Bridging

In the true spirit of the Partnership, bridging is co-constructed and co-delivered. Materials and guidance will be sent to Lead Schools, however, each Lead School will consider its own context when deciding how best to deliver the sessions. It is for this reason, that it is vital for school and university staff to liaise in order to ensure the sessions are effectively co-planned and co-delivered. The roles of the key stakeholders in bridging are outlined below:


Network Lead

  • Read guidance for each bridge and suggested readings sent by university.

  • Send the “One-page summary” document to Senior Mentors in their Network.

  • Consider how the Lead School’s context best demonstrates the focus of each bridge.

  • Liaise with Curriculum Tutor at least two weeks in advance to co-construct the sessions.

  • Organise the practical arrangements for the sessions based in the Lead School (rooms, timetable,

    availability of relevant staff etc).

  • Contact student-teachers to give them arrival times, parking information and food arrangements.

  • Co-deliver the “meet day” with the Curriculum Tutor (if held at Lead School).

  • Attend university held “meet” sessions (optional).

  • Ensure that student-teachers have clarity of the expectations of the “test phase” and “share day”.


  • Together with the Curriculum Tutor, act in the role of discussant during the “share day” to:
     develop the student teachers’ critical thinking and reflection;
     guide their thinking in terms of reimagining what they have learnt for their own context;  ensure that each student-teacher has articulated a personal target from the session.

  • Allocate time during the “share day” for student-teachers to complete the “What next” section of their Experience Template. Where time does not allow, direct students to do so within 48 hours of the “share day”.

  • Contact Professional Tutor with any issues relating to student-teachers’ lack of engagement/professionalism.

    Curriculum Tutor

  • Read guidance for each bridge and suggested readings.

  • Liaise with Network Lead at least two weeks in advance to co-construct the sessions.

  • Co-deliver the “meet day” with the Network Lead (if held at Lead School).

  • Inform Network Leads when university-based “meet” sessions are being held so that they can

    attend if they wish.

  • Ensure that student-teachers have clarity of the expectations of the “test phase” and “share day”.

  • Together with the Network Lead, act in the role of discussant during the “share day” to:

     develop the student teachers’ critical thinking and reflection;
     guide their thinking in terms of reimagining what they have learnt in their own context;  ensure that each student-teacher has articulated a personal target from the session.

  • Contact Strategic Lead for Curriculum and Pedagogy (Alison Evans) and Operational Lead for Bridging (Kelly Gipson) to arrange cover for known absences.



    Professional Tutor


    • Add a layer of quality assurance by attending bridging sessions across their Lead Schools.

    • Include Bridging as an item on Network of Network meetings with a focus on QA

      Student Teachers

      • Engage with pre-readings.

      • Download all relevant bridging documentation from the Professional Pathway tile of Moodle prior

        to “meet day”.

      • Arrive punctually to Lead School for bridging sessions.

      • Be professionally attired.

      • Conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.

      • Engage with Lead School and university bridging sessions.

      • Complete STEER documentation.

      • Brief the Class/Subject Mentor in the placement school on the “Test Phase” expectations.

      • Engage with the “Test Phase” at their placement schools.

      • Share their ideas, experiences and reflections from the “test phase” using the format of an

        Experience Template (“what you did and why?” and “what you have learned?”) with their peers,

        the Network Lead and the Curriculum Tutor in the “share day”.

      • Be open to critique to develop critical thinking and reflection.

      • Complete the “what next?” section of their Experience Template within 48 hours of “share day” to

        further develop their own practice. This may be added to tab 7 of their PLP to exemplify a range of teaching standards.

        Class/Subject Mentors in Placement Schools

        • Arrange meeting time with student within 48 hours of “meet phase” to discuss “test phase” expectations.

        • Support student-teacher in testing the ideas introduced during the “meet phase”.

        • Where appropriate, arrange meetings for the student-teacher with key stakeholders to deepen

          their understanding of the bridge focus within the context of the Placement School. 38

  • Meet with the student-teacher to discuss their findings and support their reflections.

  • Ensure that the focus of the bridge is linked to targets set in the student-teacher’s Learning Journal.

  • Review updates in PLP during the Weekly Review