Elizabeth Holmes discusses the Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL), including why it was developed, differences to the current masters-level course and its benefits for teachers and schoolspdf-6507504

CPD Week Info Sheet – MTL.pdf

You learn something every day if you pay attention.
Ray LeBlond

As the Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL) gets introduced for new teachers in the North West and to new teachers appointed to National Challenge schools (and other schools in challenging circumstances) in the rest of the country in the academic year 2009-10, we asked Neill Harris, MTL lead for the North West and TDA regional adviser, to tell us more.

CPD Week: Why was the MTL developed?

Neill Harris: The MTL has been developed with the ultimate aim of benefiting children and young people. Research indicates that children can progress up to three times faster with highly effective teaching. The practice-based nature of the MTL aims to help teachers develop and improve their teaching skills to become even better teachers.

The introduction of the MTL is part of a wider offer of professional development in schools that was set out in the Children’s Plan and confirmed in the recent white paper Your Child, Your Schools, Our Future. Ongoing training and development is crucial to helping school staff be the best they can and provide the best education and opportunities for our children.

What are the key differences between the MTL and existing masters-level courses in education? Is the MTL better or just different?

The MTL’s key feature is the fact that it’s a funded, national programme delivered locally. It’s practice-based, progressively building on Initial Teacher Training and induction, and therefore has immediate relevance to teaching and learning in the classroom. The qualification is personalised towards to the needs of the learner.

The MTL is the first masters-level qualification for teachers which combines all of these features:

  • it is a work-based programme
  • it is delivered by higher education institutions (HEIs) working with employers/schools
  • it applies new learning immediately
  • it provides a university tutor and in-school coach (working together) for every participant
  • it can be tailored around the needs of the NQT and specific school environments.

Many teachers have already studied for a masters-level qualification, some of them achieving this before undertaking initial teacher training. Would the MTL still be a learning opportunity for those who already have a masters?

Yes, very much so. Teachers on the MTL programme are expected to emerge with higher-level skills in developing their professional practice, which is in turn expected to lead to improved teaching and learning. Participating teachers will be well placed to meet the demands placed on the teaching profession in a 21st century school.

What place does the MTL have in a school’s professional learning landscape? What’s in it for the schools?

Headteachers have told us that the MTL should have a good fit with their existing CPD provision. The MTL should produce better teachers who are continually improving their practice and thus their contribution to the school. By providing support to NQTs in the early years of their teaching careers, the MTL should also help lead to higher levels of staff retention as well as helping to increase the culture of professional and lifelong learning in schools.

Teachers who become MTL coaches will have the opportunity to share their expertise with and support new entrants to the teaching profession. As they participate in the MTL, they will make a wider contribution to development across the school and support an increasingly collaborative culture in professional development. They will have the opportunity to develop their own knowledge and understanding through the professional learning that occurs simply through being a coach. They too will benefit from the expert input of HEI tutors as each work together to provide appropriate opportunities for the teacher’s collaborative learning within and beyond the school context.

What’s the ideal organisational arrangement within schools for facilitating the MTL?

The relationship at the heart of the MTL is that between the participating NQT, the in-school coach and the HEI tutor. Eligible schools with NQTs wishing to take the MTL will be supported with funding and training of coaches. Schools will work closely with HEIs to provide the MTL.

By developing an ethos of shared learning, the impact of the MTL will be felt beyond the classroom and should benefit the school community as a whole.

In what ways does the MTL support teaching and learning?

It will deliver a practice-based programme that builds progressively on initial teacher training and induction, has immediate relevance to teaching and learning in the classroom and focuses on developing teachers’ practice and professional skills through enquiry and the use of evidence.

It will be primarily school-based and delivered jointly by schools and higher education institutions. It will be highly personalised in terms of content, pace, delivery and assessment to ensure that the programme meets the teacher’s needs, and it will validated by HEIs. The MTL will provide effective, structured professional development for teachers that will serve as a platform for the next stage of their professional development.

What’s the plan for the introduction of the MTL?

In the first year of its rollout, the MTL is available to all NQTs who gained QTS in 08/09 and who take up posts from September 2009 in schools in the North West region, National Challenge schools and some secondary schools in challenging circumstances across the country.

Additionally, those starting the MTL in September 2010 will include heads of department who take up posts in 2010-11 in some schools in challenging circumstances.

Participants need to enrol by January 2010 and the course will begin later that year, during summer. Those who want to take part can register their interest now by visiting www.tda.gov.uk/mtl

What’s the long-term vision of the MTL and will it change the picture of professional learning in schools?

The government’s ambition is for teaching to become a masters-level profession. The introduction of the MTL will help transform our education system, raising the status of the profession and bringing us into line with the highest-performing education systems in the world.

Find out more…
This info sheet contains a case study of Wade Deacon High School in Widnes, exploring its experiences with the MTL to date.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 2009

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.