In answer to concerns about a lack of strategic leadership in CPD, Vivienne Porritt, CPD consultant to the London Challenge, describes how a regional framework for CPD is being built in the capital.

Crucially, I see the strategic leadership of CPD as relevant in each school, in clusters of schools, in each local authority and across a larger region, including all the partner organisations. Across London, this is what we are working towards and some of the successes and difficulties tackled in our work may be of help to other regions and organisations.

The London dimension

Some background to the London region may be of help. While each of the nine English regions has its unique features, London certainly has some very challenging and distinctive aspects. It has approximately the same number of schools, teachers and pupils as the largest regions, but is the smallest in area. There are 33 local authorities within London, with corresponding issues about fragmentation and capacity for those who support schools. London is a city of contrasts, with extremes of wealth and deprivation – often in close geographical proximity. It is dynamic and successful, both economically and culturally, yet it also has some of the most deprived areas in the UK. The teaching workforce in London is also young and very mobile, mostly due to the high costs of living. As a result, factors affecting professional development in London include:

  • a high percentage of overseas-trained teachers in schools
  • a shortage of teachers in specific subjects
  • a great deal of teaching outside specialist subjects
  • high teacher turnover, especially with those in the early stages of a career
  • teachers achieving middle/team leadership roles early in their career.

The London Challenge

Against this background, in 2003, the government created the London Challenge, a key part of which is to ensure London teachers are recognised as among the best in the profession. Chartered London Teacher status is one element of this drive to achieve a strategic approach to CPD across the region.

London Challenge’s approach has been to harness the skill, knowledge and expertise existing in London, to foster this to support all schools and to target it to areas of greater need. There have been recent developments (and successes) in meeting the challenges across London. London is the fastest improving region for secondary school GCSE performance and is now above the national average. In 2005, 55.2 % of pupils in Greater London achieved five good GCSEs, compared with the English average for maintained schools of 54.7%. A final evaluation of the overall impact of all aspects of this strategy will be produced when the initiative finishes in 2008.

In the meantime, what is being achieved by the CPD strand of the London Challenge?

Building the infrastructure: a system-wide opportunity

London Challenge has responded to the unique nature of the needs of teachers in London by developing a regional framework for professional development. This involves strengthening and creating CPD partnerships and networks and blending them into a coherent, sustainable approach for London.

There is much for these CPD partnerships to achieve. We know that learning from, and with, other colleagues is effective, yet this is still not an integral development approach in all schools. We still need to be clear about how the professional development cycle can support both individual and school improvement priorities; we need to apply our knowledge of how adults learn effectively to the selection of appropriate CPD opportunities; and we need to make full use of the support of our partners and colleagues across London.

We are getting better at linking professional development needs to the improvement process, and the advent of self-evaluation is helping greatly. New guidance on performance management placed professional review and development at the heart of what Ralph Tabberer (when at the TDA) called ‘people development’. So the challenge in London, as in other regions, is clear: to build a coherent approach to the professional review and development cycle and ensure that development opportunities for all staff bring about improvements in the achievement and wellbeing of children and young people.

We are building and connecting a range of CPD forums and networks across London to meet this challenge. These networks support the creation of learning schools – ‘intelligent schools’ as MacGilchrist, Myers and Reed describe them – and professional learning communities. They include:

  • Local authority networks of CPD leaders: these groups meet regularly to share practice and exist in various forms in over a third of London authorities. We advocate that schools in every local authority should enable CPD leaders to learn from, and with, each other.
  • Pan-London networks of ‘training schools’: there are two networks for primary and secondary training schools, supported by the TDA and working in close partnership with London Challenge.
  • Pan-London forum for CPD advisers: this enables a regular exchange of information and collaborative development. The original forum now includes a network of LAs who meet as a sustainable partnership of West London colleagues.
  • Subject networks in science and mathematics: the Science Challenge aims to raise the profile of science teaching and the professional development of science teachers and technicians. The Mathematics Challenge was launched in the summer of 2006 and a current project supports the collegiate development of maths teachers in six authorities.
  • Pan-London CPD partners forum: an innovative network whereby the London representatives of strategic organisations for CPD explore how to work together to support schools in a coherent way. Organisations include school CPD leaders, LA CPD advisers, London Challenge, the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education, GTC, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), the London Leadership Strategy, the TDA, and the National Strategies team.
  • Pan-London forum for school CPD leaders: a face-to-face and virtual forum.
  • AST networks: a new development for London, we aim to support ASTs working across London, enabling them to develop and share learning.

London’s Learning

Underpinning all the above networks is London’s Learning, a resource created by practitioners for practitioners across London that supports the leadership of CPD. It is now a website dedicated to CPD in London, and is being restructured and updated between August and October 2006. We have just added London’s Learning Community, an online forum for all school CPD leaders in London. Our intention is that local networks can connect across borough boundaries and exchange practice. For those schools who feel more isolated in terms of CPD, this resource can connect them to developments in other localities.

Whilst focused at the moment on the needs of CPD leaders, London’s Learning will gradually include links to all the organisations supporting CPD. Our aim is that during 2007, this website will grow into a ‘one-stop shop’ in London for the exchange of guidance, advice and strategic support for CPD. See the end of this article for the address of this website and others mentioned below.

Chartered London Teacher status

A key element of this coherent approach to CPD is Chartered London Teacher (CLT) status. Tim Brighouse’s original vision was that CLT would encourage and promote ‘real and permanent collaboration,’ including the exchange and sharing of practice in CPD. We want to ensure that Chartered London Teacher status is ‘an integral part of teacher development in London’.

CLT status offers a structure for the individual teacher, as well as for a school, for clusters of schools and for local authorities across London. Over 38,000 teachers had registered by 31 March 2006 – nearly two out of every three teachers. CLT status thus has the potential to raise further the quality of  professional development across the region.

CLT is open to all teachers with qualified teacher status and sits within the standards framework, so it is a universal career development option for London. As illustrated below, CLT standards support both the career and professional development needs of London teachers from QTS onwards. Achievement of the status is assessed through a school’s usual professional review process.

The CLT framework is flexible and incorporates learning from professional and leadership development opportunities open to teachers, thus it lies at the heart of a tailored, integrated approach to CPD, performance management, school self-evaluation and improvement.

Most importantly, CLT status can also be the glue that brings the growing range of CPD networks together. CLT gives us the opportunity to have a dialogue across CPD networks and communities. It can help us to create a shared picture of effective professional development that meets the needs of London teachers in London schools and that benefits our young people.

To this end, we have created a new CLT e-community. This contains CLT guidance, formats for recording progress, submission documents and declaration forms, as well as resources, news of events, examples of professional reflection and discussion forums. It offers teachers, heads, CPD leaders and local authorities an opportunity to share ideas, resources and practice around achieving the CLT standards.

How have we done this?

The above infrastructure of networks and CLT status has been built over the last three years. In response to the plea for coherence mentioned above, our aim is that the many pieces of the CPD jigsaw become more joined up and that, by working together, we achieve more than the sum of our parts. There are several elements that have enabled us to achieve a foundation for coherence:

  • The London Challenge team has articulated a vision and strategy and has encouraged and supported collaborative and targeted developments.
  • A small amount of capacity has been dedicated to building the infrastructure for CPD coherence. This is primarily one person – me – originally working for DfES/TDA and now for both London Challenge and the London Centre for Leadership in Learning (LCLL) at the Institute of Education. This work is complemented  by Sara Bubb, also from the Institute of Education, dedicating one day a week to support CLT status.
  • Organisations working together with the same aims, eg the London Leadership Strategy, led by NCSL, which includes LCLL, SSAT and the Hay Group.
  • The development of collaborative ways of working, in which the identity of all partners is respected. This has particularly been the case with local authorities working together in a region where this is traditionally difficult.
  • A passionate belief that collaboration and partnerships must be better than isolation and a determination to support collaborative ways of working.

An example of the latter is a strong partnership between London Challenge and LCLL and the TDA development advisers in London. This unites the CPD agenda in London with the TDA’s national perspective for the development of the children’s workforce and brings together a wider range of local authority partnerships than previously possible.

The resources provided by London Challenge for this work, especially for CLT status, have clearly helped greatly and it would be foolish to ignore this. However, much of the collaborative success so far achieved is possible through a shared will from all relevant partners and a determination to bring this about. The GTC’s Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) offers a framework for recognising teachers’ professional development that can be used in other regions and in London we are highlighting how CLT status is complementary to the TLA.

‘Build it and they will come’: What do we still need to achieve?
Building the infrastructure described above does not yet mean that a substantial exchange of practice and learning across London is happening or will happen and we are very aware that the next stage will be the most difficult. Phase 2 of London Challenge aims to share effective examples of CLT and professional development practice using the structures that have been put into place.

Such large-scale sharing also has its difficulties. Collaboration needs to be more than a talking shop. There have been occasions in London when a cooperative approach has been agreed yet not delivered and we need to explore the underlying issues that hinder full partnership.

I see these CPD networks in London as tectonic plates – with apologies to geographers and geologists! The separate yet related plates could move horizontally past each other, linked only by the passionate attendance of one or two people. They could diverge and move away from each other, replicating ideas and thoughts, or they could converge; move toward each other and collide to share and create new knowledge. To bring about the latter, we now need to ensure people across London:

  • know about the range of networks to support CLT and CPD
  • have a reason to use the networks
  • collaborate through the networks
  • learn more by using the networks
  • contribute to the development and expansion of the networks.

In responding to these challenges, we are aware of the evidence from other large-scale networks: ‘Network sustainability has been achieved through maintaining the relevance to, and interest of, participants, by changing the focus of groups to respond to both national and local priorities and by maintaining the voluntary nature of participation.’

We also need to evaluate the impact of shared practice and the opportunity offered by these networks to build sustainable support mechanisms for London’s teachers and schools when London Challenge comes to a close in 2008.

Conclusion

With CLT status we have a shared picture of effective professional development that is common to every school and every local authority in London.

With new guidelines for professional review, we have an opportunity to integrate CLT, CPD, school self-evaluation and  improvement.
With a unique range of physical and virtual communities for CLT and CPD in London, we have the opportunity to work together and learn from each other to develop a culture of professional learning in and across our schools.

With a shared culture of development, we can be successful in meeting the needs of London teachers and schools and so improve achievement and wellbeing for the young people of London.

References

  1. The Intelligent School MacGilchrist B, Myers K, Reed, J Sage (2004)
  2. The London Challenge – Transforming London Secondary Schools Executive summary, DfES (2003)
  3. London Challenge: From Good to Outstanding DfES (2005)
  4. Does the Net Work? How Can a Networked Learning Community Promote and Develop Leadership?  NCSL Research Associate Summary Report, Wilding, B and Blackford, A (2006)

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