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ASDAN: fostering a culture of learning and innovation

A learning organisation places a strong emphasis on personal and professional growth through the transfer of knowledge. An intrinsic element of the education charity and awarding organisation’s culture, celebrating and encouraging learning is key to achieving our goals and success.     

Since the beginning, ASDAN has embodied the essence of a learning organisation. Championing the philosophy that learning is a lifelong journey, we are committed to equipping learners with the essential skills needed for learning, work and life. The principles of knowledge transfer and ongoing improvement are central to this continuous learning, allowing us to evolve and reflect the changing needs of learners and society, ensuring our educational offer stays relevant, compelling and impactful. 

All members of the ASDAN team play a pivotal role in driving innovation and excellence within the organisation, pushing us forward as a dynamic learning entity. Embracing a culture of collaboration, feedback and shared expertise, we leverage our diverse backgrounds to ensure that we share best practices. Through this, we empower each other and enrich the experience for learners with diverse needs. There are many channels that ASDAN use to share, collate and implement our collective learning and work. Zoë Reid, Associate Head of Professional Learning, describes how we come together to learn as an organisation. 

“One of our mantras is learning about, from and with each other. A way that we operationalise and build upon this is through the implementation of an internal, online knowledge base. This collaborative platform has been a fantastic addition to our means of connecting teams across the organisation. It provides curated formal and informal learning opportunities, mechanisms to share personal learning and reflections, opportunities to gather evidence of learning, and make contributions through recommendations, feedback and suggestions.”  

Zoë continues to outline a significant learning activity in the ASDAN calendar. 

“ASDAN hold two staff learning away days each year, with our spring edition taking place last week. These events provide opportunities to spend invaluable time together in the city where ASDAN was formed – Bristol. A key objective of the recent learning day was to develop an understanding of our business plan for the coming year. Another of our mantras is that people should be able to see themselves in the work we do. To enable this, we will be exploring our collective, team, and individual responsibilities towards providing a compelling and relevant curriculum and qualifications offer.” 

Another theme of this learning day and an ongoing focus for ASDAN is accessibility. To explore this area, our Programmes, Design and Development (PDD) team ran a session based on accessibility consideration and development. Through collaborative learning, the entire ASDAN organisation explored ideas on how internal and external stakeholders are key in empowering more student-led learning for all individuals. These concepts were demonstrated through the recent renewal of our popular preparing for adulthood course, Towards Independence. 

The ASDAN team also benefit from the sharing and transfer of knowledge through staff learning hours. These sessions are a chance to introduce new courses and materials, discuss project work and share information and skills. To coincide with Deaf Awareness Week 2024, Sharon Clark-Monks, ASDAN Relationship Manager, will be sharing some of her skills in British Sign Language (BSL). Sharon explained why she has chosen to run this session. 

“I believe that through education, we can help to break down some of the barriers that are faced by deaf people and be more inclusive in our approach to meeting diverse needs. There are many benefits for our staff members to learn BSL. Having the knowledge of some basic signs will increase the confidence of our staff when meeting a deaf person for the first time and help them to communicate with a deaf or hard of hearing person in their own language. Learning BSL also stimulates your brain and enhances your cognitive abilities, not to mention promoting cultural awareness and sensitivity towards diverse communication styles.”  

To accompany this learning hour, we have created a free resource pack. This bumper bundle of activities has been designed to promote inclusion and develop communication skills for young learners, based around the theme of deaf awareness and BSL. Included in this pack are inspiring challenges adapted from ASDAN's Personal Development Programmes (PDP) and Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) qualifications. You will also find recording templates, challenge plans and reviews, prompts and ideas for possible topics and projects, as well as left and right-handed BSL alphabet posters. The resource pack is available to download for free, we hope your young people enjoy it. 

ASDAN has always valued feedback and collaboration, actively engaging educators, learners, and stakeholders in the development and refinement of our programmes and qualifications. We love to learn from our members, using their expert insights from the teaching frontline to inform our curriculum and course development. This also guides us on what’s happening in areas such as accessibility, inclusion and diversity, crucial to keeping us true to our core values. With a strong focus on developing our professional learning community (PLC), we strive to bring our members together to create and foster a supportive ecosystem.  

Our organisation name originates from the initial title of ‘Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network’. The ‘N’ in ASDAN exemplifies who we are, a network of individuals and entities, brought together through the power and love of learning.