An Opportunity to Move from Practitioner to Professional; OPINION: What Is Needed Is a Strategy for Continuing Development

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 8, 2002 | Go to article overview

An Opportunity to Move from Practitioner to Professional; OPINION: What Is Needed Is a Strategy for Continuing Development


Byline: KEN JONES Head of the School of Education at Swansea Institute of Higher Education

IN 1972 the James Report set out plans for reforming the professional development of teachers.

Thirty years later we are closer than we have ever been to making the professional development continuum a reality.

There now is a chance for teachers to take their profession forward and to change the status of teaching beyond the effective practitioner to the effective professional.

There have already been major, overdue developments, notably the consultation on early professional development, the professional development pilot projects and the emergence of a professional development framework, but there is still a danger these initiatives will be ad hoc, taken up by a minority rather than integrated within the profession.

There is also a danger that, in this complex tapestry of continuing professional development initiatives, teachers will lose sight of the need for continuous professional development to be coherent.

Teachers are responding to initiatives from the National Assembly, the General Teaching Council for Wales, higher education institutions, local education authorities, independent providers and their own schools.

How can we ensure the recent progress in continuing professional development will be effective?

First, we must recognise that professional development is broader than "staff development".

Staff development relates to the work in a teacher's particular school. It will focus on the classes they teach, the teams they lead and the priorities within team and school development plans.

Professional development includes all this and more, encompassing experiences and learning opportunities beyond a particular school, and teachers should be supported in these.

Second, we must strive to ensure the professional development of teachers continues throughout a teacher's career and across all levels - and that this continuing professional development arises naturally from the teacher's work rather than being imposed as an additional burden.

Third, individual teachers have to take ownership of their own development to ensure coherence and relevance, using common sense so it fits in with personal and professional commitments.

The professional development portfolio is important here. Without generating extra bureaucracy, the portfolio can help by recording development and prioritising future needs. It can also be the basis for performance management and accreditation.

Fourth, we have to recognise that effective CPD will require time out of the classroom. This will require pupils to have quality learning time when their designated teacher is not there. …

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