Cautionary note on credentials

Caution is the only sensible response to plans that would see the creation of a national database that records the professional development progress of every teacher in Wales (page 1).

In the wrong hands, this information could be used against the very people we want to nurture, develop and protect. There is also the obvious fear that it could be used by officials to make an example of schools where staff appear to be lagging behind in their professional development. Not good for morale.

The proposed portfolios must be treated with 100 per cent confidentiality, or else they will backfire. But the National Union of Teachers Cymru is right to shed some positive light on the move towards centralising continuing professional development records in one simple system.

In her response, Heledd Hayes, the union's education officer, says it could prove a highly accessible way for teachers to showcase their CPD achievements and milestones - in a sort of trophy cabinet. If it does keep teachers' paperwork "to a minimum", then all well and good.

But there must also be some sympathy for the doom and gloom arguments put forward by the NASUWT. Geraint Davies, its Welsh secretary, has always been against the introduction of the chartered teacher scheme, another milestone in professional development that has already been accepted in principle after earlier consultation.

"How many teachers will feel they have to achieve this status or be left behind and at a disadvantage," he laments.

The same is true for all advances in professional development, according to the NASUWT. But will the teachers with a bulging portfolio necessarily be the best or simply the most ambitious? Surely, as in all walks of life, there is a need to strike a balance in the rush for more accolades.

Teachers do have a day job - in the classroom. The pressure of adding to their growing credentials is surely not good for the smooth running of the school or continuity of learning for pupils. Alternatively, if they are out of the school sharing good practice it can only rub off on results in the classroom. Let's hope teachers and heads can work together to find the right balance so that teachers and their pupils benefit from professional development.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you