Teachers to Shape Futures; PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Teachers to Select Own Areas of Expertise
Byline: PAUL CAREY Education Reporter
WALES'S 28,000 teachers are to benefit from extra professional development, funded by the General Teaching Council for Wales.
Up to 2,000 teachers will participate in the new programme in its first year as part of a pounds 1.3m pilot phase. If it is successful, it will be expanded further across the profession in Wales.
The aim is to allow the teachers to choose professional development projects which meet their individual needs. This Continuous Professional Development scheme will be in addition to existing teacher training days which tend to be focused on the needs of the schools and to be linked to curriculum or administrative changes.
Teachers participating in this phase will be able to draw between pounds 500 and pounds 3,000 to fund development in or away from their schools. Projects could include short visits to study best practice teaching methods in other schools or longer-term research undertakings.
Gary Brace, Chief Executive of the GTCW, said, "We believe teachers will benefit greatly from continuing professional development which is tailored to suit individuals.
"Teachers have traditionally been placed on training courses by head teachers and local authorities. Our aim is to offer choice to the teacher."
In this first phase, teachers will choose from three routes. These differ from traditional Gest (Grants for Education Support and Training) teacher training days in that teachers can choose for themselves the areas they wish to develop.
A Professional Development Bursary or Visit and Exchange Fund will each offer up to pounds 500 towards the cost of an activity that will have a positive impact in the classroom.
The scheme also offers support to teachers who wish to undertake research that contributes to raising standards of teaching and learning. A scholarship of up to pounds 3,000 can be drawn upon for classroom-based research that will improve professional development.
Gwen Williams, head teacher of Edwardsville Infants School in Merthyr Tydfil, who has invested in the continuing professional development of her teachers for several years, said she regarded this as essential in maintaining the morale and standards of staff.
"The majority of schools in Wales already take the professional development of teachers very seriously. This new programme gives teachers the opportunity to decide for themselves the areas they want to develop. …