This paper reports on a small-scale research investigation into developing partnerships between a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in England and schools based on a collaborative, rather than a cooperative model. Here, a ‘deeper’ interpretation of collaboration, that is to say ‘working together’ rather than ‘working with’ is facilitated through Third Space activity. In essence ‘Third Space’ suggests coming out of our normal working environment (school or university) and into a neutral ‘third space’ to design, develop and deliver teacher education with jointly shared understanding and vision. The research was carried out during 2012 and consisted of non-participant observation of meetings between HEI and school staff involved in the partnership and semi-structure interviews with a sample of these staff. The university programme involved was the PGCE secondary programme, however it is important to note that the research suggested that the philosophy of Third Space activity to develop partnership transcends limitations of context. Findings suggest that, despite the ambitious nature of this philosophy, this kind of partnership working has the potential to be transformative for all concerned: HEI tutors, school mentors and student teachers. This in turn benefits pupils in school. As School Direct becomes more widespread in England, it is suggested that the benefits of this kind of working could add significantly to the evolution of effective partnership practice not only in the English context but also in teacher education world-wide.
Third space; working together; partnership; teacher education.