CPD Update analyses a document giving the direction of policy for the next three years.
In addition to the education bill being debated in the House of Commons and the new national standards being developed by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), several recent documents carry important indicators of the future of CPD (see box). There is no doubt that teachers and related professionals can expect considerable change as a result of these plans and proposals. In this article we look at the way things are likely to develop, using the headings in the annex to the TDA letter as a framework for analysis.
Our last issue carried news of the December 2005 report on CPD from the TDA to the secretary of state for education and skills, Ruth Kelly (see p1 of the March issue). This letter described what the agency felt had been achieved in the preceding year and outlined plans for the future. It also made clear that there would be a link between the revised national standards and pay, pay progression and career progression.
As a reminder, here are the main headings of that letter. Bringing coherence to the framework of professional and occupational standards for the school workforce. Bringing more coherence to CPD. Monitoring the quality and coverage of CPD and helping shape strategy and priorities.
Coordinating specific programmes.
In the same article we mentioned the terms of reference of the National Reference Group. This body will help decide the national priorities for CPD – the areas of professional learning upon which teachers will be encouraged to concentrate. It seems clear that even although reference is made to teachers deciding upon their own needs they will be expected to align those needs with centrally determined priorities. We have now acquired a copy of Ruth Kelly’s reply of March 2006 to the TDA. This takes our understanding further but more detailed plans are yet to emerge.
Before all this becomes too confusing we shall try to make sense of what we have so far, using the annex to the TDA letter as our framework.
Documents affecting the future of CPD
i) The TDA letter to Ruth Kelly reporting on CPD. ii) The annex to that letter setting out the future for CPD. iii) The terms of reference of the National Reference Group for Teachers’ Professional Development. iv) Ruth Kelly’s reply to the TDA on CPD.
(To view any of these documents, email the editor)
CPD policy 2006-09: an analysis
There are eight major headings in the ‘Outlook for Teachers Directorate March 2006-March 2009’, which, taken with what we know about the forthcoming TDA priorities for postgraduate professional development (PPD – see box, right), provide us with a very clear idea of the directions we are being given for the next three years. Under each heading below we have tried to provide some comment on the implications of what is being proposed and, where appropriate, we have included extracts from and comments on Ruth Kelly’s letter in reply.
1. Three-year outlook for the years 2006-2009. ‘The three year outlook: i) builds upon a strong evidence base of the training and development needs of teachers and schools ii) uses the evidence base to set priorities for training and development between April 2006-March 2009 iii) develops an effective communication strategy which sets out the direction of travel for the professional development of teachers.’
The first question that comes to mind is how the TDA knows the training and development needs of teachers. For more than eight years what we now call postgraduate professional development (PPD) has been required to address the complex issue of professional needs. We know evidence is there but apart from reference to it in two Ofsted reports and occasional publications there has been no systematic and comprehensive report on the detail of how teachers (and schools) involved in these programmes articulate professional learning needs. It is to be hoped that the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) framework for evaluating the impact of PPD will enable us to see how teachers set about understanding their needs for professional learning. Readers of CPD Update will have seen a version of this in issues 73-77. (For copies of the model email the editor at the address given on p12). PPD is only a small part of overall CPD activity but it addresses need rigorously and should have something significant to tell us. It will probably not, however, provide a simple list of needs which is maybe all government and the TDA want.
Nevertheless, no matter the level or quality of the evidence, whatever the TDA has decided were the needs of teachers before March 2006 is to be the basis for the next three years. Since most teachers have yet to come to grips with the new examination system of 14-19 (its effect will trickle down to younger children), the new professionalism, the extended school, the wider workforce, the new national standards and a number of other changes derived from a new Education Act it is likely that teachers’ understanding of their needs will change considerably during that period. Unless, that is, they are to be told what their needs are.
You might say that what teachers really need is to be allowed to develop their own understanding of their own needs. But if there is to be pressure to deliver on the national priorities teachers will be wasting their time if they articulate professional learning needs that do not fit in with what it has been decided that they should learn.
Ruth Kelly does not mention the professional learning needs of teachers in her letter. Her main concern for next year is that the revised national standards should be implemented together with ‘more effective performance management’.
2. Performance Development of All Teachers
Here we get a further clue about how the new standards are intended to work with CPD. ‘Performance development is the integration of the professional standards, performance management through teaching and learning reviews [these TLRs are to be renamed as the initials clash with those of ‘teachng and learning responsibilities’ – see p2], identification of training and development needs and provision to enhance the performance of the teacher’.
Mention is also made here of the mysterious ‘strategic partner’ who will make CPD happen across the country. It is clear that the white paper and the new standards are tied into each other, meaning that if the new Education Bill is subject to substantial alteration the whole CPD strategy of the TDA begins to look vulnerable. We will be getting exemplification of the standards which will help to make teachers demand more CPD (‘intelligent demand’). The TDA was also expecting or hoping for new leadership standards in 2006-2007 (see below).
Ruth Kelly makes it clear that the NCSL is in charge of the leadership standards but she expects the college to work closely with the TDA ‘in considering the implications of revised teacher standards for the leadership standards.’ The School Teachers’ Review Body has, she points out, recommended an independent study which should report on leadership in December 2006. She says that this report must be taken into account so ‘any review of leadership standards should be deferred until 2007-08’.
She expects the TDA to provide her with a further draft of the revised standards in April. She sees the standards as providing ‘clear differentiation of expectations in terms of both role and the quality of a teacher’s contribution at each career stage…’.
She also sees the standards as a ‘continuum of progression from HLTA to QTS and from teacher standards to leadership standards’.
3. Induction and the second year of teaching – building on and extending training in the employment context
The emphasis here is upon making stronger transition points from initial training into employment and from the NQT year into the second year of teaching. There will be more involvement by the subject associations and trainee teachers are to be encouraged to join them.
What is proposed may be thought to be tiny and inadequate compensation for the sudden and complete withdrawal of the promised earmarking of funding for the first five years of teaching life: early professional development (EPD). Charles Clarke as secretary of state before Ruth Kelly decided that CPD for EPD was to have a lower priority than he had been promising and the earmarking of funding for CPD in the first five years of teaching has never been restored.
Ruth Kelly shows no sign of having any idea that this money became lost to CPD. And there is no sign that she will be restoring it. We can assume, however, that she still wants the job done.
4. Developing and enhancing subject knowledge (1)
The new standards will emphasise subject knowledge. It will become a priority for PPD and subject associations and the national and regional centres for science and the Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) will become more involved in the TDA’s plans for CPD.
One point we need to make again is that the TDA seems not to have noticed here that PPD is expected to be flexible and to respond to need. As a result many HEIs have validated open or shell modules and programmes that enable individual teachers and groups of teachers to carry out action research that reflects their own needs. The titles of these modules and programmes do not match individual subjects but, for example, a teacher of English could be working alongside a teacher of chemistry on assessment for learning. They would each be concentrating on their own subject while benefiting from some cross-fertilisation. The data collected by the TDA is, however, unlikely to reveal this because they only look at the titles of programmes and modules. So there is likely to be much subject-based professional learning that passes by unnoticed.
Ruth Kelly is very keen on enhanced subject knowledge and makes it clear in her letter that both Jacqui Smith and Andrew Adonis (two of her ministers) will consider any related decisions on agreed national priorities that emerge from the National Reference Group for Training and Development. Clearly she intends to continue the tradition of ministers ultimately deciding the priorities for professional learning.
5. Developing and enhancing subject knowledge (2) Here the emphasis is upon teachers in the third and fourth year of teaching. Both schools and ‘providers’ of CPD are to be required to target teachers in their third and fourth year of teaching. Subject associations will also be expected to push for increased membership by teachers in these years. The TDA hope that there will be a pilot 20-day programme designed to improve the quality of primary subject leadership and a 40-day programme for serving mathematics teachers (14-19) from unconventional backgrounds.
Ruth Kelly writes encouraging words here but clearly the TDA were flying a kite when they suggested that money could be found for the 20- and 40-day programmes. The secretary of state is very quick in her letter to damp down any thought of extra cash. She will, however, be writing to the TDA about the role of subject associations and welcomes the proposal to ‘target the funding of the Postgraduate Professional Development Programme on subjects’.
6. Working with providers
There is to be a feasibility study with providers of training and development to ‘investigate the value and impact of voluntary quality indicators for the provision of training and development for teachers’.
At present the TDA is engaged in working with providers of PPD on the evaluation of its impact. The model that seems to be used by most providers is the one from UCET (see above).
The TDA also expects to work with HEIs, LAs, subject associations and the larger private providers plus the the National Reference Group (see below) to ‘encourage a focus on the agreed national priorities to secure more effective performance development of teachers’.
The funding criteria for PPD are likely to have increased emphasis upon partnership in order to reflect the intention to create more federations of schools.
There will also be some collaboration between the TDA and the NCSL to develop a ‘provider management strategy’ with the intention of creating a national network of providers ‘which matches provision of training appropriately to the demand from teachers’.
This last point is disputable. If the professional voices of teachers are to be overwhelmed by the noise of centrally determined targets and priorities it will be disingenuous in the extreme to portray demand as coming directly from the teachers.
Ruth Kelly agrees that the main focus for the TDA is ‘working with others to stimulate and improve the quality of CPD’. She welcomes the plans ‘to evaluate the Postgraduate Professional Development Programme. It is timely to assess the contribution of this Programme and the Return to Teach Programme in the context of the expectations set out in revised standards for teachers.’
Providers of PPD may be somewhat disappointed with this. Having to go through an arduous bidding process every year, having passed inspection with flying colours and having already agreed with the TDA to carry out a rigorous evaluation of impact, they might expect to be spared yet another evaluation of the programme. Quite possibly Ruth Kelly does not realise how small the resource is for PPD and how much pressure there is in HEIs to undertake more lucrative work that is not subject to constant bidding and evaluation processes.
7. Providing coherence and leadership
With the National Reference Group for Training and Development (see below) the TDA expects to ‘agree priorities and coordinate the contribution each national organisation will make to achieving these priorities’.
A problem here is that the providers of PPD systematically address the issue of professional needs relating to priorities but they have been excluded so far from this group whose understanding of evidence will be diminished as a result.
The TDA go on to say that it will: ‘Develop regional and local leadership through TDA field force channel and strategic partners. Develop models and networks to effect resonance between national priorities and regional and local operational activity informed by research into the emerging structures of local authorities’.
Quite probably the TDA forgot that they had a really good network of people that they inherited from the DfES already doing this kind of work. Their contracts were not renewed as of the end of March (see p11). It will take some time before the contacts, experience and expertise of the new people matches that of the previous regional advisers. Furthermore, establishing structures to make collaboration happen must, by definition, cross existing boundaries. In other words, they must be regional. Requiring local authorities to be brokers may satisfy the free marketeers in the government but CPD is too important for it to become an Arthur Daley enterprise. More can be achieved by collaboration than by competition.
Ruth Kelly talks of LEAs (!) and welcomes the role of the ‘School Workforce Advisers, fieldforce and the national strategy partner’. But it is interesting that just as the TDA forgot that they were getting rid of the regional CPD advisers so Ruth Kelly forgets that government got rid of LEAs as well. They are now Local Authorities (goodbye ‘education’).
8. Research and Development There will be: i) continuous search for and dissemination of evidence of effective practice in the performance development of teachers ii) 42 training and development testbed schools iii) evaluation and development of the postgraduate professional development programme
iv) evaluation of the impact of courses on the performance development of returning teachers.
Here we have a problem. Looking ‘for’ evidence is unsound. It comes from having lived for too long in a target-setting culture. It closes the mind to unexpected evidence for unintended outcomes. No more professional penicillin. Instead, if this is the preferred way of carrying out research, we shall be measured by the extent to which targets (often non-negotiable) have been approached. And the concept of ‘effective practice’ is itself open to discussion, at the very least.
A target is similar to an hypothesis. What is the point of only looking for the evidence that proves it? What do you do if your evidence contradicts it or points you in another direction? Do you brush under the carpet any evidence that does not fit? It is very disappointing that the TDA appear at this point not to understand real professional learning and have such poor grasp of how research is supposed to test assumptions. They have staff who know better. Or maybe they chose their words for their main audience.
Ruth Kelly has nothing to say on this.
The TDA’s PPD priorities
At present the list of priorities for the future is as follows: l subject knowledge and pedagogy l special education l behaviour management l assessment for learning l English as an additional language l the extended schools and remodelling agenda.
The question to ask is how priorities and needs can be reconciled. This is difficult for providers who are required to address both. So what happens if teachers say that their needs are different from the priorities of government? Will teachers be required to adopt the priorities and to adapt their own needs accordingly?