Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 37, No. 4, September 2011, 551–569.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Within the Scottish context, a gap in the CPD framework had been identified for early-career teachers who have completed the induction year but are not yet eligible to embark on the Chartered Teacher Programme.
Learning and Teaching Scotland, the school curriculum development body for Scotland, therefore commissioned a research project to explore the CPD needs and priorities of these early-career teachers and the barriers to their participation.
The objectives of the project were as follows:
(1) To seek the views of teachers in the post-probationary period of years two to six of their professional life on effective CPD they have received and to identify best practice modes and models of delivery.
(2) To seek teachers’ views on their CPD needs.
(3) To seek teachers’ views on the relative priorities of their CPD needs.
(4) To seek teachers’ views on barriers to their participation in CPD and make recommendations on how these barriers might be overcome.
(5) To compare the views of these teachers with the views of other stakeholder groups such as head teachers, local authority employers and experts in CPD.
(6) To develop recommendations that can be used by Learning and Teaching Scotland to guide the development of future programmes of CPD support.
The present article focuses principally on Objectives 2, 3 and 4.
The empirical work of the project was designed in three incremental phases:
● Phase 1 – identification of year two to six teachers’ CPD needs through the Nominal Group Technique (NGT).
● Phase 2 – national survey of year two to six teachers, informed by the NGT data and sent electronically to all schools in Scotland.
● Phase 3 – consultation with stakeholders on recommendations arising from phases 1 and 2.
Relative priorities of CPD needs
CPD needs and priorities which identified were related principally to:
● keeping up-to-date with teaching strategies;
● additional support needs;
● national priorities, especially CfE;
● subject-specific development;
● information and communications technology;
● behaviour management; and
● career progression
Barriers to participation in CPD
The data also identified the following barriers to participation in CPD:
● cost of courses;
● arranging appropriate cover to be released from class commitments in order to participate in CPD activities;
● lack of variety in CPD ‘provision’;
● school cultures, including a lack of support from school management;
● time constraints;
● timing of CPD events;
● regional differences and limited availability or choice; and
● previous negative experiences.
The analysis of data led to the development of six strategic recommendations:
The first recommendation stated that year two to six teachers have different needs and work in different contexts, therefore differentiated CPD opportunities should be provided.
The second recommendation suggested that local authorities and schools should work towards developing systems for identifying and supporting year two to six teachers not in stable
The third recommendation highlighted the importance of the transition between the induction year and year two.
It suggested that the final profile completed at the end of the induction year should be seen as a key document in supporting a smooth transition.
The fourth recommendation suggested that mentors need to be committed and well-trained and endorse a collaborative learning approach.
The fifth recommendation highlighted the message that year two to six teachers want CPD that is relevant to their own classroom context and that supports active experimentation.
This recommendation particularly focused on: information and communications technologies; assessment; subject-related work; pupil support; extra-curricular opportunities; career progression; and national initiatives (in particular, CfE).
The sixth recommendation suggested that informal learning, and the associated emotional and social elements, should be recognised and be made more explicit.
It highlighted that collaborative CPD in pairs or small groups has been shown to have a greater impact on professional development and learning than individually oriented forms of CPD, and is valued by year two to six teachers, concluding that opportunities to work in pairs/small groups should be encouraged.
The authors conclude that issues such as the importance of collaborative and interactive CPD are also highlighted in recent UK-wide research as being a key part of effective CPD.
The need for greater recognition of informal learning is also a key focus in recent research into professional learning.