How can all the different initiatives, programmes and requirements be linked up to support the professional learning of your colleagues? Cliff Jones takes a look at some of the components.
I previously suggested that it was about time that someone designed a wiring diagram to link up the initiatives, programmes and requirements that are driving the professional learning of teachers. No one has sent me a wiring diagram yet (despite my offer of space to display it in a future issue of CPD Update) but I am encouraged by the responses I have received.
As a result I decided to have a go at producing a draft outlining some of the components that will have to be incorporated and which readers can pull to pieces and criticise before sending me more polished versions. In doing this I realise that it is important to be good at sums and one of my problems is that not only would you not trust me to change a plug but also that I did not listen too well when my father explained ‘up and down each way doubles’, ‘yankee bets’ and ‘the treble chance’. He could hold combinations of betting odds in his head that would fry my brain and as I try to design this diagram it begins to look as though what is needed is the calm and serene approach of an electrician who works part time in a betting shop. Well, nothing ventured…
I expect, by the way, that those of you who understand complex circuits, nodes, resistance, transformers and impedance etc will be able to make more of the notion of a wiring diagram than I can. It looks as though it is going to be quite a complex set of circuits. I have tried to give a suitable name to each circuit. Colleagues who understand these things better than I do have made me think that newly qualified teachers can begin with lots of volts. As they begin to encounter problems so they slow down. So maybe one purpose of CPD is to recharge people from time to time.
The critical professional learning circuit
Here I concentrate upon postgraduate professional development (PPD) which is by no means compulsory but has, among its virtues, the ability to adapt and take into account individual and school professional learning needs. Its emphasis upon perspective and criticality also mean that it can multiply (transform) the impact of a range of professional learning initiatives, programmes and requirements.
PPD includes the full range of awards leading to a Masters degree and also doctorates which I shall not say much about at this stage. A Masters is usually divided into three award stages (don’t expect to keep the first one if you go on to the second or the second if you go on to the third).
The first is a postgraduate certificate worth 60 CAT points. (To pursue the betting analogy CAT stands for credit accumulation and transfer.) The second is a postgraduate diploma worth 120 points. That is, 60 in addition to the 60 from the postgrad cert. (You can see the need for the word ‘accumulation’.) The third is the full Masters award, worth 180 points, accumulated by adding a further 60. Teachers coming into the profession now may have undertaken a qualified teacher status programme that carries some Masters level points.
So, here we have wire or thread into which or from which other wires can feed. I am, by the way, aware that there is a lot that can be added to this circuit but, for now, I have tried to keep it simple.
Are you an associate tutor of your local HEI? Do you get involved with them in any other way? Does your CPD policy include action research? What causes resistance? Should headteachers have doctorates?
The standards circuit (not the same as the performance management cycle)
In England we have to take the National Standards next, because they put into stages and categories the words that strongly influence the range of roles undertaken by teachers, headteachers and others and their pay, pay progression and promotion.
In other words, we have a bunch of wires here. The complication is that for each individual at any one time there will be a number of National Standard wires that do not apply directly to them. A teacher may have begun professional life running along one National Standard wire and then transferred to another. The relevance of the other wires is that they apply directly to colleagues without whom an individual cannot work effectively.
So a measure of a school’s CPD policy could be that most of the National Standard wires (including any that apply to non-teaching staff) should be live. A school with lots of dead National Standard wires is unlikely to be firing on all cylinders.
The whole system of performance management and review is what manages the way that the standards operate. Junction boxes abound. Every so often a professional will enter a box and either come out of it travelling along the same National Standard circuit or come out of it transferred to another.
It might also be useful here to remind ourselves that the Career Entry and Development Profile (CEDP), which newly qualified teachers bring with them into their first post, might be regarded as a ‘junction box’. Or should it be a ‘transformer’?
As leader of professional learning in your school have you established a clear relationship with other colleagues who conduct performance management reviews? Is the work of Advanced Skills Teachers and Excellent Teachers taken into account in your CPD policy? Have you drawn upon the advice and guidance of mentoring and coaching? Can you see any connections with PPD?
Do you have a CEDP junction box? What happens inside it? Does it lead anywhere? What about other junction boxes? What causes resistance?
The professional respect circuit
I take the GTCE’s Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) next. Again, it is not compulsory and it has probably gone on for too long as a pilot. But it does set out a set of stages of rising professional status and it can be linked to PPD, the programmes of the NCSL and to National Standards. There are six stages of membership.
The Core Dimensions are the key to understanding what is needed to become and progress as a member. They are:
- engagement with an appropriate knowledge base
- planning of professional learning and change activity
- application of learning in practice
- accessing peer support, coaching and/or mentoring
- evaluation of the impact of the change activity on practice and on own learning
- dissemination of what has been learned.
The role of verifier, examining the evidence for the TLA, takes place in another junction box. Remember also the Connect and Engage networks.
Incidentally, all these junction boxes look like becoming somewhat crowded. I imagine a huge old fashioned railway signal box with lots of signalmen getting in each other’s way while looking for the right lever to pull.
Can you convince colleagues that this is worthwhile if they are already focused upon the National Standards? Maybe (and this is something that will happen time after time in CPD) the TLA becomes more attractive if it enables people to kill two or more birds with one stone. In other words, if there can be some transfer of credit and value across to and from other initiatives.
If, however, there is complete transfer there would seem to be little point in having different initiatives at all so each has to bring value.
Are you or any of your colleagues TLA verifiers? How should we align the stages of the membership of the TLA with, for example, the different awards of PPD? How might the stages relate to the standards? What causes resistance? For further information go to www.gtce.org.uk/tla
If you want to know what different HEIs are doing to link the TLA with PPD send an email to email@example.com and ask for it to be circulated to HEIs with whom you might work.
The national strategies circuit
The national strategies provide lots of opportunities to work with colleagues and to make collaborative decisions about what should be taught and how; and what should be assessed and how.
These are not light decisions about unimportant matters. They emerge from the critical voices of professionals and you could say that there is nothing more important than this. There are no stages, levels or standards here. You can link these easily to the critical professional learning circuit.
When colleagues sit down together to work on the National Strategies do you expect each of them to confine their professional learning to the National Standard that governs their role? Or would you expect them to forget their professional status while they are learning together? Is it possible that worrying about having evidence that they are working to a standard will impede the current of their professional learning? What causes resistance?
For further information on how to make a link with PPD email me at the address at the end of this article.
The leadership circuit
The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) has a number of programmes but I shall confine myself to just three here. Like the national standards, we have a number of wires in play and colleagues may start on one and transfer at some point to another.
Leading from the Middle (LftM) has been linked to the TLA and to PPD. In terms of postgraduate credit it can be worth 20-40 credits (negotiate with your local HEI) on completion of a converter assignment. The same is true of the Leadership Programme for Serving Heads (LPSH).
The National Programme for the Qualification of Headship (NPQH) is usually worth 60 points with a converter but a complication is that possession of a relevant Masters level qualification should allow some credit off NPQH.
How does this link with performance management? Does your CPD policy take into account the professional learning needs of senior staff? Are they going to be in the wiring diagram? Are, for that matter, you? Should we expect headteachers to acquire professionally relevant doctorates? What causes resistance?
The subject circuit
In the last issue we looked at the part that will be played in the professional learning of teachers by membership of subject associations. In particular, we have looked at chartered science teacher status as a possible way forward. The approaches of subject associations are very different but as this is something being pushed by government it may be worth thinking about how it might fit into your wiring diagram. Some associations have ideas about accreditation and we know that they are talking to Kit Field of UCET.
If the teachers of science in your school are members of the Association of Science Educators (ASE) might they be interested in chartered science teacher status? Might they also be interested in accreditation? What about the others? Is this a case of designing a circuit that will take some time before much current passes along it? What causes resistance?
The Investors in People circuit
IIP provides another framework for making sense of professional learning. Using the IIP standard will also ensure that the complete wiring diagram leaves no one out.
Questions Does your school really invest in all its people? Did you do this because you believed in it or because you wanted the plaque? What causes resistance?
And now ‘the big question’. How is all of this going to relate to the SEF?
Believe it or not, most teachers in most of the world manage to do their job without standards.
Many of them are not differentiated into graded posts. They are simply teachers. Just before Kenneth Baker took over as secretary of state we were about to have a wage settlement that would have reduced or removed many professional hierarchies and differentiations: no heads of department! He quickly reinforced the hierarchies and differentials in time for the introduction of the National
Why am I emphasising this? Because if we are to do any really penetrative thinking about the education business one thing to bear in mind is that ‘it does not always have to be like it is’.