Towards the Learning Profession

Towards the Learning
An Escalate Project
David Wood (Oxford Brookes)
and Julie Anderson (Bristol)
Towards the Learning Profession
Why investigate
professional learning
• An element of the DfES CPD Strategy
• ‘to identify characteristics and
conditions of schools which function
as professional learning
communities (para. 4)
Towards the Learning Profession
Why investigate
professional learning
• The GTCE Teacher Learning
Academy phase 1 begins in Sept.
2003. Objectives include the
promotion of ‘enquiry-based
practice, peer mentoring and local
• The Scottish Chartered Teacher
Towards the Learning Profession
Why investigate
professional learning
• Despite these initiatives to develop a
learning profession, the workload
agreement reached between the
DfES and many teacher unions and
due for introduction in September
2003, points to an overloaded
profession, with little time for CPD,
Towards the Learning Profession
E – Education
S – Subject
C – Centre
A – Advancing
L – Learning
A – And
T – Teaching in
E – Education
Towards the Learning Profession
What it is
• One of 24 Subject Centres working
for staff in Education and Continuing
Education in Higher Education
• Based at Bristol, it has partners at
Oxford Brookes, Nottingham and
Stirling Universities
Towards the Learning Profession
What’s in it for you?
• The leaflet in your pack gives further
details but activities include:
– Offering resources of all kinds
– Small grants
– Supporting events
– Briefings and bulletins
Towards the Learning Profession
The Project
• Aimed to write up 6-8 case studies of
schools identified as ‘hotspots’ of
CPD or meeting the definition of
‘professional learning communities’;
• to interview members of the
leadership teams in schools
nominated by university or college
CPD staff.
Towards the Learning Profession
The Project
• We aimed to interview leaders on the
basis of the pivotal role they play in
catalyzing CPD activity (NFER:
• the semi-structured interviews were
designed to illuminate key factors in
promoting professional learning
Towards the Learning Profession
The questions
Briefly, how would you describe the context of the
What does the term ‘professional learning community’
mean to you?
How does the school context affect the conditions for a
professional learning community?
What type of Continual Professional Development (CPD)
takes place in a professional learning community?
Why is such CPD undertaken?
How would you describe the balance between formal and
informal CPD activities. Do you think some are valued more
than others? Which?
Towards the Learning Profession
The questions (cont)
Who does the research?
How does CPD relate to everyday processes in the maintenance
of learning, teaching and the curriculum?
How does the CPD undertaken relate SDP and the EDP?
10. What characterises staff who initiate their own projects?
11. What do teachers report about the benefits or otherwise of
participating in such a learning community?
12. Do we live in a climate where initiative in CPD is encouraged?
Towards the Learning Profession
The questions (cont)
What have been the constraints or otherwise on the
creation and maintenance of this CPD climate / culture?
Who has ownership and control of the work?
Who sustains the learning community how is
momentum maintained?
What do you feel about the time needed to do CPD
yourself, including time necessary for follow up?
How has work relating to CPD impacted on you in
terms of how you feel about yourself, your role and your
career overall?
Towards the Learning Profession
The Project
• One object was to reflect practice in
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland
and Wales;
Towards the Learning Profession
Oxfordshire Case Study
• Marlborough School is a successful
comprehensive in a semi-rural part
of the county. The Deputy Head
approached Oxford Brookes in 2002
to design a leadership programme
for staff as part of a strategy for
succession planning & retention.
Towards the Learning Profession
Oxfordshire Case Study
• He saw this as a means of
incentivising & retaining the welltrained teachers of recent years:
‘45% of teachers are now 1-3 years
into their careers and we have a
generation..coming through now who
want to develop themselves as
Towards the Learning Profession
The learning culture
• He described the process of
‘scanning the horizon’ looking for
every opportunity for CPD;
• refreshing subject knowledge;
• reflective teams (eg on behaviour)
• updating (eg child protection);
• govt. strategy (eg KS3).
Towards the Learning Profession
An agile process
• By this the school takes a creative
approach to needs as they arise. Eg,
after a racist incident a governor,
parents from ethnic minority groups
and pupils devised an INSET. This
contrasts with the sense that, ‘we
had this problem so they sent us on
a course.’
Towards the Learning Profession
• The school identifies ‘segments’
(Corkindale and Trorey: 2002) of the
staff and offers CPD opportunities
judged appropriate for each group;
eg experienced female staff
undertake ITT mentoring as a form
of CPD.
Towards the Learning Profession
Peer observation
• Whilst this is a formal system the
school encourages a ‘no blame
culture’ (see Senge: 1990). The
senior management nurture
receptive dispositions so staff do not
regard classroom observation or
evaluation as a threat.
Towards the Learning Profession
• The Deputy Head acknowledges that
the school gathers insufficient data
to demonstrate impact. But his
impression is that CPD has
propagated diversity in learning
activity: ‘this is related to our lesson
observation programme, to all forms
of CPD and to the high quality now of
Towards the Learning Profession
• So the energetic professional
learning community is achieved
through a ‘contingency’ approach to
management (Law & Glover:2000) by
avoiding simple ‘off the shelf’ CPD
solutions in favour of constantly
matching staff and school needs
with a range of CPD.
Towards the Learning Profession
The South West case study
A consortium of 6 LEAs and 2 HEIs
• one
providers of award-bearing CPD for
• traditional twilight / evening CPD
courses in HEIs unsuitable in area.
Towards the Learning Profession
The SWIfT Approach
• discuss with schools re: what SWIfT
can offer;
• 80% of programmes tailor made;
• initial contact - leads to 10-15
minutes follow up at staff meeting;
• sessions 1.5 – 2 hrs at monthly
intervals - after school on school
Towards the Learning Profession
Reasons for success
• Credibility and a good team;
• suitable location;
• groups develop their own
• supportive colleagues and HEI staff;
• course reflects teacher concerns
and interests.
Towards the Learning Profession
Honiton College
• Interviewees - new entrants / nearing
• programme negotiated;
• centred on contemporary issues;
• dominant learning and teaching style
of interaction and debate;
• increasingly focus on individual
Towards the Learning Profession
Recruitment most
effective if …
• SWIfT find that direct approach then a visit - is most effective;
• it helps where the CPD Co-ordinator
is on the SMT, is enthusiastic and
works well with the SWIfT staff;
• NfER (2001:34) identifies school
leaders as the ‘fundamental’
determinants of maintaining the
professional learning community.
Towards the Learning Profession
Further reasons for
• SWIfT ensures regular review of any
programme – leads to maintaining
interest by remaining relevant to the
• agendas for individual sessions are
also constantly reviewed;
• each session ends with agreement
about content/topic for the next +
agreement re:date etc.
Towards the Learning Profession
Potential problems
• OFSTED disrupted programmes;
• dominant
possible interested parties;
• constraint of time;
• no clear agreement in the SMT about
what a programme could or should
• CPD not a very high priority in the
Towards the Learning Profession
Bedfordshire case study
• Beds. School Improvement
Partnership formed by heads esp.
heads in GM schools to undertake
CPD independently of the LEA.
• Has 180 schools including 24 in a
Networked Learning Community. Coordinates a wide range of activity,
esp. collaborative working.
Towards the Learning Profession
Pupils as researchers
• This is a distinctive aspect of BSIP’s
work - pupils are supported so that
they can offer opinions and research
findings on learning & teaching;
• eg at the BSIP annual conference
pupils themselves contributed to
staff training on inclusion.
Towards the Learning Profession
Student Voice
• For the Partnership Director a key
objective is to develop pupil
articulacy in support of their role in
improving learning & teaching, so
that their opinions can be seen as
more legitimate and informed.
Towards the Learning Profession
Student Voice
• BSIP emphasises the importance of
maintaining structures which give
pupils a role in improving learning.
• The student voice ‘can be scary and
intimidate staff’ so schools need to
provide formal opportunities for
pupils to respond and staff to get
used to their input.
Towards the Learning Profession
Collaborative learning
• BSIP has promoted professional
study groups across schools and
phases (eg thinking skills in maths
and PE);
• for the Partnership Director every
classroom is unique but this is not
incompatible with experiments in
the transfer of practice.
Towards the Learning Profession
The University of
Glamorgan case study
• Janet Todd Jones funded by NOF;
• bought in Janet - a practising teacher -for
ICT Training Co-ordinator role;
• based at the university;
• Janet – already a member of the ICT
steering committee for the region;
• Centre for Lifelong Learning ( CELL) focuses on inclusion and widening access
to communities.
Towards the Learning Profession
The School
• supportive of CPD for its staff;
• benefits from Janet returning there
• technical support and advice etc.
• Janet’s work dovetails closely with
School Development Plan;
• HEI and school in close proximity.
Towards the Learning Profession
Teacher research
- Time
• Re: teachers returning from CPD
‘most .. were unable to exploit their
newly acquired skills .. on returning
to schools because of the competing
demands and pressures of time’ (HMI
report 410 p25, paragraph 53).
Towards the Learning Profession
Teacher research Enthusiasm
• The issue of the importance of
‘personal enthusiasm’ was a finding
in the LGA research report 23 which
stated that it is ‘crucial’( page 96).
• Janet has found that enthusiasm can
be generated!
Towards the Learning Profession
New entrants V
experienced teachers
• As an older teacher herself, Janet
couldn’t have taken on her current
role earlier - so takes view that
flexibility in CPD is crucial something we will return to later
Towards the Learning Profession
Possible constraints and
Reasons for success
Nervous of change;
financial constraints;
attitude of key members of staff;
commitment, drive and courage!
subject area genuinely of interest.
Towards the Learning Profession
Kent Case Study
• Angley School has a long-standing
relationship with Canterbury Christ
Church. A group of staff are
undertaking enquiry-based
development work leading to a
masters degree in School
Towards the Learning Profession
• This is supported by the Centre for
Educational Leadership and School
Improvement at Canterbury Christ
Church, which exists to provide
‘critical friendship..and to raise
levels of criticality and professional
discourse.’ (Durrant: 2003)
Towards the Learning Profession
Kent Case Study
• In the view of the case study author,
Judy Durrant, ‘relationships and
contacts are often more important
than structures, systems and
marketing’ in maintaining this
school-based activity. Key support is
seen to come from the head.
Towards the Learning Profession
• 2 members of the Angley group were
appointed to leadership posts
elsewhere and established similar
groups in their new schools ‘a
number of overlapping communities
of practice’ (Wenger:1998);
Towards the Learning Profession
Process framework
For staff this involves:
Clarifying values & concerns;
personal development planning;
strategic action planning;
leading development work;
transforming professional knowledge
(Frost & Durrant: 2003).
Towards the Learning Profession
The staff response
• At interview the group reported:
• that they participate to affect
learning and school development more than to gain qualifications;
• that they value cross-hierarchical,
inter-departmental debate;
• that the work transcends national
policy imperatives.
Towards the Learning Profession
Issues for staff
• Time and prioritising;
• continuing the practice of ITT - one
teacher said she joined the group to
continue the reflective habits she
developed in her recent initial
• profiling this work in the wider staff
Towards the Learning Profession
Northern Ireland case
• LEAs provide a curriculum and
assessment support service (CASS)
focusing on what are perceived as
relevant issues;
• two large universities provide a
wide choice of award bearing
courses, diplomas, masters and
doctoral programmes.
Towards the Learning Profession
The school
• Special attention given to learning
and teaching;
• creation of a post for learning and
teaching for a senior teacher;
• the SMT saw learning and teaching
as integral to their development
Towards the Learning Profession
• The teacher appointed began by
engaging with people who wanted to
work in learning and teaching - and
building a small team - with the aim
that it would become infectious - and
so engage other staff.
Towards the Learning Profession
She said:
• ‘As a learning community our priority is the
pupils, but we also realise they cannot
really benefit unless we work on staff
development, so in a way we enhance the
pupil learning experience through
enhancing the skills of the staff which in
turn enhances the teaching experience
and is a learning experience in itself for
them…Learning and Teaching are central
to our SDP and the work we do as a result
of the SDP results, without a doubt, in
Towards the Learning Profession
One of the team
• about 75% of the staff now initiate
and develop aspects CPD - but there
are those who aren’t interested;
• 100% of the younger members of
staff are involved while the
percentage is smaller for those
nearing the end of their careers.
Towards the Learning Profession
• The establishment of a learning and
teaching group created opportunities for
teachers to address the interface between
their expectations and the pupils’
experience of being in a classroom;
• done through giving status to teaching and
learning by the appointment of a senior
teacher whose personal qualities motivate
other members of staff;
• a bottom-up model attracting the interest
of almost all the younger members of staff.
Towards the Learning Profession
Lack of schools
• Although nominating schools was
not a time consuming task for higher
education staff, we found it difficult
to find 6-8 case studies, and had as
many people declining the
invitations as agreeing to take part.
Why was this?
Towards the Learning Profession
The nominations
• Higher ed staff were too busy to
respond - workload?
• There is an ongoing DfES
commissioned study.
• One response was that the
university offer was too inflexible to
stimulate schools
Towards the Learning Profession
The nominations
• Finally the fact that several Scottish
institutions did not respond may
reflect the unique position in
Scotland which is introducing the
Chartered Teacher Scheme this
September. Some Scottish staff may
feel that the conditions in other
counties are not relevant.
Towards the Learning Profession
The research
methodology ‘deflected’
• Contacts resisted nominating single
schools; instead they suggested we
talk to:
• a regional LEA, HEI partnership;
• an entire school group;
• a school partnership;
• a seconded teacher.
Towards the Learning Profession
Why ‘deflection?’
• Nominating best practice schools is
divisive and threatens ‘green shoots’
of CPD activity?
• CPD activity is diverse & chaotic,
resisting rigid structures,
interference and influence?
• Advocates of CPD are opportunistic
in propagating CPD where it is
Towards the Learning Profession
Common issues - 1:
years of experience
• Interviewees generalised about
teachers’ experience being a factor
in how enthusiastic they are about
CPD - interviewees in 3 case studies
mentioned that more recently
trained teachers are more receptive
to CPD activity.
Towards the Learning Profession
The recently trained
• Why might this impression be
• Strong view that ITT has improved
through the 1990s;
• newer teachers more aligned to
evidence-based practice;
• knowledge about teaching more
provisional in modern ITT.
Towards the Learning Profession
The experienced
• More jaundiced?
• Perceives methods and trends in
education to be cyclical?
• Mature graduate teachers formed an
elite educated minority - may
percieve QTS as the destination,
rather than a starting point for
developing as a teacher?
Towards the Learning Profession
The contrasting view of
• However, one interviewee suggested
that the point of resistance to CPD is
among teachers with 8-15 years of
• another interviewee approaching
retirement said that she was
undertaking CPD because she didn’t
want to stagnate.
Towards the Learning Profession
2 - independence
• There was a strong allegiance to
‘grass roots’ self-determination in
designing CPD, except among career
minded teachers.
• 3 case studies emphasised the
importance of schools designing CPD
to meet their needs, & resisted ‘off
the peg’ courses.
Towards the Learning Profession
Implications of this
• LEA menus, inflexible universities
and college programmes &
government determination can be a
turn off.
• Agendas and CPD content should be
negotiated before and during the
Towards the Learning Profession
Implications of this
• Universities and colleges must
consider their role in:
• facilitating networks;
• badging and accrediting locally
created courses;
• responding to commissions;
• providing geographically convenient
CPD in schools.
Towards the Learning Profession
3 - the open culture
• 3 case studies saw an open forgiving
culture as critical (see Senge:1991);
• teachers should not feel judged or
• students can be trained to offer
useful feedback;
Towards the Learning Profession
4 - how practice is
• 2 Case studies in particular
suggested that teachers resisted
and were intimidated by research,
but highly valued sharing and
learning about other practice. There
is probably insufficient recognition
of the similarities.
Towards the Learning Profession
Implications of this
• The sequencing of CPD is possibly a
crucial factor. It is likely to be
perceived as useful if the starting
point is school-based issues,
followed by examples of practice
elsewhere, followed by how practice
is illuminated in research.
• But what price ‘M’ level?
Towards the Learning Profession
5 the flexible career
• One case study centred on an
individual teacher moving from role
to role in schools and in support of
schools. GTCE members strongly
support this model, which refreshes
teachers, and ensures that those
going contributing to CPD are
credible practitioners with recent
and relevant experience.
Towards the Learning Profession
Summary points:
• Broad assumption that there is
resistance to professional
development, either to CPD, or
accreditation or to particular subject
content, or to govt. training
• A common tactical assumption is
that you ‘sweeten the pill.’
Towards the Learning Profession
Summary points: further
• The limits of these case studies
necessitate caution:
• speculation only on the reasons
behind certain common statements;
• our suggestions are very provisional;
• we should gather more case studies
in order to understand how better to
promote CPD.
Towards the Learning Profession

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