Cliff Jones looks at some useful tools for professional development on the channel’s website.

In September of last year we published details of the Teachers’ TV Associates scheme. The usefulness of this scheme to leaders of CPD has recently been increased by the introduction of a new component called ‘My CPD’.

In the past we have said that although you may simply switch on the set and take what comes, it is a far better idea to go to the Teachers’ TV website and work out what you and your colleagues need. That way you avoid experiencing all that tiredness and frustration that has built up during the day and which emerges, late at night, when watching what looks like ‘perfect teacher’ teaching ‘perfect children’ of ‘perfect parents’ in a ‘perfect building’ with ‘perfect resources’. How many times have you shouted at the screen that they should try to come and work in your school?

It does not have to be like that. Let us look at some of the ways in which becoming a Teachers’ TV associate can help you.

Step 1: become an associate

To register with Teachers’ TV you need to provide an email address and password plus some profile about you and your place of work. To register as an associate you will have to provide a little more information. Go to and click the ‘register now’ button.

Step 2: check the sneak previews Once you are inside the associates’ section you can view previews of forthcoming programmes. Looking at this feature recently I was really taken with Andy Smith’s A Passion for Physics programme, although I have to declare an interest: some years ago I worked on alternative curriculum strategies with a teacher who always got good results from the children because, in my opinion, not only was she well prepared, interesting and interested in what she did but they all knew that ‘their teacher’ would go through fire and water for them. It turns out that this is Andy Smith’s headteacher.

There are many more examples so you can spot what might be of use to yourself and colleagues. Those of you who have been carrying out thorough professional learning needs analyses with colleagues will have an idea what might be useful. One of the roles of the leader of professional learning is to maintain a low-level conversational professional dialogue consisting mostly of ‘This might be useful/interesting to you’; ‘Have you thought of… or looked at…?’

Step 3: click on ‘My CPD’ ‘My CPD’ enables you to keep a record of programmes you watch, note down resources of interest, undertake critical reflection, share your findings with others and develop professionally: l the ‘goal setting’ function allows you to set yourself goals, keep track of programmes and resources connected to them and record insights

l this information can be used to engage in a learning project; ‘My CPD’ contains an online form for creating a submission to the GTCE’s Teacher Learning Activity (TLA) for stage 1 professional recognition.

Making connections The TLA submission is just a pilot scheme, but such a tool could be developed to open up all sorts of exciting connections. Imagine bringing together all that is happening in your school for: l the national strategies (remembering that there is a mechanism for transforming work done on the strategies into postgraduate credit) l NCSL programmes (remembering that these also have links to postgraduate credit) l Teacher Learning Academy (also linked to postgraduate credit)

l postgraduate professional development (ask for the director of CPD in the department/school/faculty of education in your local HEI or email UCET: [email protected]).

Work out from the Teachers’ TV website what can support and challenge your colleagues appropriately. Now make sure that your use of Teachers’ TV is mentioned in your CPD policy and go on to tell the story of how all this joined-up but varying critical professional learning that has taken place in your school backs up the SEF. If Ofsted are not impressed they should be.

Critical professional learning

What I find interesting is that we have moved from the idea of in-service training (Inset) to continuing professional development (CPD) and now we are just beginning to make sense of the concept of professional learning. This runs counter to the idea that professionals should develop only in accordance with the standards set for the point they have reached in their careers. Professional learning, by contrast, sets no boundaries and encourages professionals to decide with their colleagues the value of what they do. To do this, however, professional learning needs to be subject to some criticality: some analysis, assessment and evaluation. That is what justifies professional learning. So I wonder if in future we need to consider replacing ‘continuing professional development’ with ‘critical professional learning’?

Using an instrument such as Teachers’ TV helps to make it possible to return to that notion of the ‘thinking professional in the thinking school’. The future for professional learning, however, needs to be made and legitimated by a wide and assorted number of professionals critically examining their experience, expertise and values to establish strong, authoritative voices. This will not be a problem-free future. There will always be pressures to fit in: to reach non-negotiable targets and to match other people’s expectations.

From government we have the emerging notion of the ‘new professional’. Who defines this? Who exemplifies it? Do you? To be a professional is to have a voice. So, a last question: what is signified by the apostrophe in the title Teachers’ TV?

Teachers’ TV associates

Teachers’ TV associates receive programme previews and priority invitations and have the opportunity to tell the channel their views and exchange views with other associates across the country. Becoming an associate allows you to use the ‘My CPD’ section, see sneak previews of selected programmes and get involved in directing, making or starring in programmes.

The Teachers’ TV Associates pages also contain news, events and opportunities.