New qualifications for support staff in schools are now being piloted, bringing with them increasing responsibilities for CPD leaders.

The Support Work in Schools Vocational Qualifications (or SWS VQ) are designed to meet the needs of all support staff, helping them to gain a formal qualification and improve their career prospects and skills. These qualifications include mandatory and optional units. The mandatory ones focus on working with children and young people and working within a school. The optional units cover topics such as site security and maintenance, managing resources, supporting learning, health and safety, IT and communications. These optional units are drawn from the National Occupational Standards (NOS), which set out nationally agreed skills, knowledge and understanding needed for particular job roles and ‘clearly define the outcomes of competent performance’. Schools minister Jacqui Smith recently congratulated the TDA and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) on developing SWS VQs. According to the TDA, she also ‘challenged both organisations to ensure that funding and delivery of SWS VQs and other relevant support staff qualifications remain a high priority, so that training and professional development for support staff can be even more flexible and relevant.’

For some time now it has been the government’s intention to ensure that the training and development needs of all are provided for. This is why the School Workforce Development Board (SWDB) was set up under the TDA. The spread of qualifications has widened, covering just about any role it is possible to imagine being carried out on school premises and they range from Level 1 NVQ to foundation degree and beyond. The idea is to ensure flexibility so that a variety of needs may be addressed.

More responsibilities

Jacqui Smith is clear that funding and development are crucial elements in making the new qualifications work as intended. However, leaders of CPD will need to become familiar with far more than the professional learning needs of teachers and trainee teachers. Their responsibilities are now complex and growing. Schools that have undertaken to work to the new Investors In People standard will have realised that it must involve sound analysis of the needs of a wide, disparate and numerous workforce in addition to a detailed knowledge of how to manage training, development and assessment in a number of different qualification systems. With the SWS VQ coming into play at the same time as new national standards it looks as though 2006-07 will be a busy year for leaders of CPD.

The National Qualifications Framework is a good starting point for making sense of what will have to be provided.

A new award for science teachers

The Association for Science Education (ASE), working in collaboration with the Science Council, has developed a new professional qualification for science education professionals. The status of chartered science teacher (CSciTeach) is a designation in line with awards such as chartered accountant or chartered surveyor. Such awards are made under powers granted by the Privy Council. As the ASE website explains, ‘CSciTeach recognises the unique and demanding combination of skills, knowledge, understanding and expertise that are required by individuals involved in practising and advancing science teaching and learning’. Chartered science teachers are professionals, teachers and educators, who are practising and/or advancing science teaching and learning and for whom knowledge and skills in pedagogy, science education and science are essential elements in their role. They will have a critical awareness of current issues and be informed by ‘developments in educational practice, pedagogy and scientific endeavour’. In our last issue we outlined the intention of the TDA and the DfES to persuade teachers to join subject associations. Clearly they have in mind links between the new standards, postgraduate professional development and subject associations. The ASE’s initiative has not escaped the notice of government. We believe the TDA has been asked to consider its potential and it may well become a model for similar developments.

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