Finding your voice as a new organisation (without a gap year!)

A brave new world for teacher training and development

Cast your mind back to January 2021… we know it’s bleak but stick with us… You’re a new or trainee teacher looking to develop your skills – where do you go?

Did you know you’d have had over 800 teaching schools to choose from, scattered across the country? Even the most decisive of us couldn’t be blamed for feeling overwhelmed and confused at that much choice … and that’s without the hangover of a global pandemic.

But in February 2021, the Department for Education announced it would be replacing teaching schools with 87 teaching school hubs, creating a national infrastructure for teacher and leadership development. These days, teaching school hubs are centres of excellence for teacher training and development – each acting as single points of contact within their own local areas, making it much easier for teachers to know where to go for quality-assured support throughout their careers, from their early career through to leadership.

The success of the teaching school hubs wouldn’t have been possible without the facilitation, advocacy and support of the Teaching School Hubs Council (TSHC), launched by the Department for Education shortly after the introduction of the teaching school hubs. When the team was formed, there was a lot to deliver very quickly. Communicating who and what the TSHC was, in a clear and cohesive way, was a luxury that time didn’t afford. And we all know what time does when you’re having fun!

As the teaching school hubs approached their second year of operation and knowing our experience working with teaching school hubs locally, the TSHC approached us in October 2022 to support them with finding their voice and ensuring their mission and purpose could be consistently delivered with clarity and strength.

Channelling our inner detective

In the Education sector, there’s no budget for a gap year, so we started off with a full deep-dive (Ofsted-style) into the communication of the TSHC. From emails to Slack messages and newsletters to website content, we Nancy-Drew-ed our way to a full understanding of the way the TSHC was currently communicating with each of its audiences.

Once we had a good understanding, we presented our findings to the team in an immersive online workshop (vital for a team that works almost entirely remotely) to understand how they felt about how they were currently communicating and what was and wasn’t working for them. We discussed their audiences, messages and branding.

We took all this information away and hunkered down to write a short and compelling tone of voice strategy… but we knew something was missing. The tone of voice strategy the team had requested wasn’t going to help the team to find its collective voice. The messaging itself also needed to change.

Giving the Teaching School Hubs Council its voice

To help the TSHC to overcome this challenge, we created a full communication strategy that would help the organisation to be bolder and more ambitious when talking about the work they’ve done and intend to do. We helped them to emphasise and distil how they have helped the teaching school hubs to achieve their goals and provided a set of memorable key messages the team could refer to in any form of communication. There were very few changes from the team – often the case when they have been involved in every step of the process – and they felt that by using this document, they could be clear and consistent about their messaging.

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“We have been delighted with the work we have done with Athene. Since working with them we have updated our website, sessions, social media and communications. We have woven our new narrative throughout all our materials, and our team feel confident using our new messaging. Our tone of voice and strategy document hasn’t sat on a shelf, but has become one of our most useful documents as a team. We are delighted with how our communications have become more focused and clearer for our audiences and with the consistency in our tone of voice. We knew our messaging wasn’t allowing us to advocate for the TSH network the way we wanted to, and are incredibly grateful to Athene for all of their hard work.”


Emily Newitt, Programme Manager

Work with an impact