The Critical Advisory Support Partnership for CPD (CASP) was formally launched at a meeting attended by representatives of three key stakeholder associations on 10 May

Its purpose is to ‘champion and support the provision of high quality and relevant continuing professional development for teachers’.

Among other things, CASP has been established to ‘identify and develop the relevance of higher education-based CPD to national initiatives and priorities, argue the case for increased investment in quality CPD and advise (and, where necessary, challenge) government and statutory agencies responsible for the development, funding and commissioning of CPD’.

CASP represents an agreement to work together by three of the UK’s most significant CPD organisations:

  • The International Professional Development Association (IPDA). This is the international network for those interested in professional development and consists of representatives of further and higher education, schools, local authorities and international organisations (chair: Alex Alexandrou).
  • The Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers (SCETT). This is the organisation for teachers and teacher educators established by the professional associations (chair: Dennis Hayes).
  • The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET). This is the organisation representing the UK’s HE-based teacher education institutions (chair: Michael Totterdell).

The chair of UCET’s CPD Committee, Kit Field, said: ‘The formation of CASP represents a major resource for the development of teachers’ CPD. It will seek to ensure additional investment, provide teachers with advice and information about the CPD opportunities available to them and aim to shape national policies. We already know how good much of CPD – particularly that carried out by higher education – is. The task now is to make teachers more aware of it, make it even better and ensure that scarce public money is invested in the kind of CPD that we know has the best impact on teachers, schools and pupils.’

CASP intends to broker links and relationships between, for example, the HE, FE, schools and local authority sectors and to facilitate and become involved in international research and networking. It is particularly concerned for the ‘right of teachers and other educators to have access to fully funded, properly accredited, academically robust and relevant CPD provision’.

According to James Rogers, the chief executive officer of UCET, ‘There has probably never been a more opportune moment for the launch of a group like CASP. Everyone, government included, recognises the importance of CPD and how essential it is to the future of education in this country.

‘Government education reforms – as set out in Every Child Matters and subsequent white papers – depend on it. And in England, the Training & Development Agency for Schools (TDA) has developed new teaching standards identifying the standards teachers in schools are expected to reach at different stages in their careers. These range from NQT through to induction, past the threshold and on to the heady heights of Excellent and Advanced Skills status.

‘Engagement and commitment to CPD is, in fact, a pre-requisite of progression to some of the higher standards and that is something that we welcome.

‘But we would have preferred a more formal link between HE level qualifications and Excellent Teacher status along the lines that already exist in Scotland between Chartered Teacher and Masters level qualifications.’

Problems linking PPD and NCSL

CASP also declared its intention to promote the links between postgraduate professional development (PPD) and the GTCE’s Teacher Learning Academy, the programmes of the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) and the national strategies.

It pointed out, however, that the NCSL had for some time been failing to deliver its promises to carry forward such links and had not replied to numerous attempts to make contact.

It noted that, ‘in the post-compulsory sector the new Institute for Learning (IfL), that sector’s new professional body, will be requiring that its members undertake CPD in order to remain in good standing and therefore as members of the IfL. In that respect, it is further advanced than the school sector, where no such requirements exist’.

Members of CASP pointed out that, despite overwhelming evidence that the small amount of money devoted to supporting postgraduate professional development has a tremendously valuable and positive impact upon schools and the professional lives of teachers, government and its agents continue to marginalise the HE sector in respect of CPD.

Exclusion by TDA

Considerable annoyance was expressed that members of CASP had been refused participation in the TDA’s reference group for CPD. It appeared to members of CASP that the TDA was confused about the difference between a stakeholder body representing members that is entitled to be consulted on policy at an early stage and a provider that is asked to implement policy.

‘Without us’, they said, ‘the group has limited legitimacy and will not be able to engage in informed discussion. Our exclusion is a nonsense.’ The point was made that such exclusions would not happen in other parts of the UK, only in England.

Comment

One of the strengths of CASP is that its members are very open about areas of disagreement. This reduces confusion and misunderstanding. The most noticeable feature of the launch was, however, the shared sense of enthusiasm for professional learning.

It is all the more frustrating, therefore, that the NCSL has chosen to reverse its policy of working with UCET for the benefit of teachers. The links are there for teachers undertaking NCSL programmes to obtain postgraduate credit. They were established at NCSL’s request and involved a lot of hard work and negotiation. There is a lot of potential in these links but the NCSL is under new management and we are still waiting to hear how they wish to interact with key HE stakeholders.

CASP has plans to develop a shared website on critical professional development. In the meantime see the following websites for news:

  • www.ipda.org.uk
  • www.scett.org.uk
  • www.ucet.ac.uk
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