Institute for Learning
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IfL publishes third annual review of FE teachers’ professional development

The Institute for Learning (IfL) has published its third annual review of continuing professional development (CPD) in the further education and skills sector, its most detailed study so far of the state of CPD in colleges, training providers and adult and community learning. The report – based on the experiences of more than 48,000 teachers and trainers who declared their CPD in 2011, evidence from in-depth focus groups involving 220 members around the country, web-based surveys and other meetings – indicates that directed CPD is not necessarily effective and that more space is needed for self-directed and collaborative development opportunities.

The report calls for a move away from target-setting, tick boxes and an audit culture, which were identified in IfL’s survey as being counterproductive. It strongly backs the role of teacher as action researcher, and makes four key recommendations:

  • Sharing the outcomes of CPD is excellent training in itself and should be encouraged
  • More time for planning and for effective, collaborative and personalised CPD is essential
  • CPD is vital for career development and readiness for new teaching and learning opportunities
  • The impact of CPD needs to be better theorised and prioritised: action research and involving learners in development activities and supported experiments leads to deep learning about teaching and learning strategies that work.   

Like other professional bodies, IfL expects every teacher and trainer to carry out CPD every year, as required by regulations for the further education and skills sector. IfL monitors that the requirement is met, and shares the findings about effective CPD with members and the sector.

Dr Jean Kelly, IfL’s director of professional development, said, “IfL has long advocated evidence-based practice and the explicit recognition of this through support for effective CPD. The conclusions of our review suggest that for maximum impact, every teacher and trainer needs to discuss and critically reflect on their professional learning with colleagues, and that since ad hoc and self-directed development often gives rise to the most meaningful results, organisations need to create a more expansive and less restrictive working environment, so that learning at work itself is CPD.

“IfL members were very clear about the type of CPD that does not work: almost all began by describing organisation-led, generic training that resulted in the principles of good teaching and learning being abandoned. Senior managers’ good intentions often led to what could be a valuable opportunity to learn, away from day-to-day pressures, being diminished. 

“As dual professionals, FE teachers and trainers need opportunities for CPD targeted at keeping up to date and increasing the breadth of their experience in subject specialisms and related fields. Work-shadowing, specialist communities of practice and time to go through professional formation, which offers a personalised route to attaining QTLS Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills or ATLS Associate Teacher Learning and Skills status, are all important elements of this.

“Members told us about their priorities for CPD in the coming year, and these have been incorporated into, or were already reflected in, our plan for CPD support, which is outlined in the report.”

NoteClick here to download the 2010–11 IfL review of CPD: CPD for the future: the networked professional in PDF format (less than 2Mb).

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