Real Focus on the importance of teachers Continuous Professional Development


It is a given that the quality of teaching affects pupil attainment and other school based  outcomes and the DCSF has placed a particular emphasis , informed by recent research from the likes of Professor Dylan Wiliam of the IOE , on the importance of  continuous professional development  for teachers.  The Training and Development Agency (TDA) in particular is seeking to improve the quality and take up of CPD provision. Although initial teacher training is regarded as important current thinking suggests that ITT is not, seen as the total professional formation of the teacher.  It is seen more as the beginning of a professional journey with opportunities in CPD and indeed the new Masters in Teaching and Learning programme to help teachers extend and develop their understanding  of teaching practice and how they can best support pupil learning  and fufil their other welfare responsibilities. In November 2009 TDA published a new professional development strategy (PDS) which includes plans to strengthen CPD leadership, impact evaluation and training for support staff, and is underpinned by three key priorities of embedding a learning culture within schools, increasing coherence and collaboration and improving quality and capacity. The PDS can be found on TDA’s website:

Teachers in the north-west and challenging schools are now eligible for enrolment for the new Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL). The MTL builds on Initial Teacher Training and induction and will have immediate relevance to teaching and learning in the classroom, focusing on developing and honing teachers’ practice through inquiry and use of evidence. The MTL will also aims to help schools to develop what is seen as an increasingly collaborative culture of professional development. Additionally, the new Licence to Practise alongside a CPD entitlement is aimed at ensuring that all teachers have access to the CPD they need to guarantee they continue to be effective in the classroom. Ofsted’s 2006 report on CPD, ‘The Logical Chain’ found that the most effective CPD takes place in schools. Against the backdrop the Government published its White Paper ‘Your Child, Your School, Our Future: Building a 21st century schools system’ gave TDA and the National College a joint remit to provide advice on how a nationwide network of quality assured CPD can be delivered through school clusters, utilising existing provision such as Training Schools, Teaching Schools and Leadership Development Schools. Ministers have welcomed preliminary advice on how this can be achieved and further advice is expected in spring 2010.The ministerial advice can be found on TDA’s. To help ensure that schools and teachers become more informed consumers in identifying effective and quality assured professional development TDA has now also rolled out a new national database with an associated code of practice. There are currently over 4,000 opportunities for professional development listed on this database. The Government is confident that its policies will ensure that schools and the school work force are equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st Century School and, thus, improve outcomes for children and young people.

A recent report   ‘Is initial teacher training failing to meet the needs of all our young people by James Wetz, a former Headteacher, published by CFBT Education Trust questioned whether initial teacher training is sufficient or adequate to cope with the socially supportive role now required of our teachers . The thinking goes that schools are more than providers of education.  They also have a role in safeguarding the emotional well-being of their pupils, certainly this is the governments view, if you look at the outcomes expected in Every Child Matters. So, it follows that we must reassert the role of schools as inclusive social institutions and this clearly  places new demands on teachers and their training.  Wetz  believes that our teachers  are in practice disadvantaged by inadequate and what he terms  ‘reductionist’ routes to qualified teacher status, which provide them with neither the appropriate skills and understanding nor the theoretical framework and practical experience to adequately support disaffected and disengaged pupils .Some  educationalists subscribed to Wetz’s view that ITT is the best place to start to address the problem. Others believe that teachers should remain focused on the learning environment and specialist support should be brought in as appropriate to work with them. Yet others think that the emphasis should be not so much on ITT but on continuing professional development and sharing best practice within schools.

What is clear is that most agree that ITT is not the end of teachers training and the quality of teachers and classroom teaching depends on high quality Continuous Professional Development throughout a teacher’s career while making sure that  best teaching  practice  is shared with peers. Teacher collaboration is critical to influencing practice and sustaining change in schools.


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