NEAC, Transforming Education

Learning without limits

Chris Sweetman

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In The Spotlight: Chris Sweetman

Mark Andrew, MD Nexus Associates says “I first met Chris when he was the Principal of an Academy and was struck by his gift for absorbing information and getting directly to the crux of the matter. He had an excellent grasp of the advantage that could be gained by engaging students through ICT. “

Chris Sweetman Joined NAEC as head of education in September 2011. Since then the work of the department has doubled. Here he talks about his work, the challenges and the successes…

“Good teaching has always got me excited but I get a real buzz from seeing teachers and pupils really enjoying a lesson enhanced by ICT.”

I was asked to lead the Education department and build on the good work that had already been done. We wanted to place a sharp focus on Teaching and Learning and ensure that our training led to Outstanding Lessons. Now our team is comprised of experienced teachers and ASTs and we have developed a coaching model for training to ensure the use of ICT is embedded in the learning experience.

What is your favourite part of the role?

That is a difficult question to answer. There are so many aspects of the role that are interesting and exciting. Working with the team, developing new ideas and researching new technology is always fun, but I suppose my favourite part of the role is visiting our schools and seeing great lessons. Good teaching has always got me excited but I get a real buzz from seeing teachers and pupils really enjoying a lesson enhanced by ICT. It feels good knowing that we made it happen.

There are a lot of areas where schools really struggle with ICT. Very few get the best from their Learning Platform and many struggle with getting easy access to learner progress data. I really enjoy working with schools to help them reap the benefits of their investments in these areas.

Tell us about some projects you have worked on?

All the projects are exciting. It is great to be a part of the journey at Strood Academy who have a rich and intensive training strategy. We have just begun working at Brompton Academy who are developing the use of iPads as a learning tool. They have done a lot of good research and development and I am excited about supporting staff in the integration of the technology into lessons.
Brighton Aldridge Community Academy sticks out as a real achievement. Their English GCSE results continued to improve in 2012 when most schools experienced a dip. Michael Brett, one of the Vice Principals, told me that the use of laptops to support English was a part of that success.
Another great project is Skinners Academy, Hackney, where we helped them develop the use of the VLE which had been largely unused for over a year. We helped them put it at the centre of the learning journey.

What Previous Experience Do You Have?

22 years in education. 10 as a Senior leader. During that time I have had responsibility for data in two schools, developing the use of their MIS to track learner progress. I’ve always loved being in the classroom and done a lot of work developing the quality of teaching and learning. I am proud of all the work I did as a school leader. It was challenging at times but anything that is worth-while is hard work and I always found it rewarding.

Hobbies and Interests

Music would be my passion. I play the guitar and flute and I like to compose and record my own music. Occasionally you’ll find me singing at an open mic session at the local pub. Perhaps one day I’ll get discovered and become famous!
I have a large family who are growing up fast. I enjoy all the other things, walking, swimming, reading.

Oh yes, I have to confess to being a bit of a Sci-fi enthusiast. It was Douglas Adams and Asimov who caught my attention when I was a teenager. I really like some of those early films like the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “The incredible Shrinking Man.”.

Chris Sweetman

What Other People Say About Chris Sweetman…

Mark Andrew, MD at Nexus Associates says:

“Working with Chris has been inspirational; he is a true professional who really understands how to use ICT to drive learning within schools.  Passionate about his work and with the experience needed to make aspirations reality, Chris has made a real difference to our clients.

One of his main attributes is his ability to communicate with and enthuse staff at all levels, getting the ‘buy in’ schools need to make step changes.   He truly believes all lessons should be outstanding and this belief and his drive helps to quickly engage and motivate all of those around him. “

For more details of projects that Chris Sweetman is currently working on or information on NAEC click here.