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Cynicism about the real agenda of training

OLDER teachers are often cynical that in-service training days are used to promote government priorities, a survey reveals.

But overall, teachers value any kind of professional development, except for the poor training offered on using information technology.

A team from Manchester Metropolitan University and Education Data Services analysed questionnaire responses from more than 2,500 secondary, primary and special school teachers about their experiences of continuing professional development.

The Government's Learning and Teaching strategy, published in 2001, puts professional development at the heart of school improvement. But there are fears that budget shortfalls will mean less training for staff.

The research team found most teachers are getting some form of training.

Attitudes towards CPD varied enormously between and within schools, and according to the age, gender and responsibilities of teachers.

For example, older teachers were much more likely to consider that the five annual in-service days focused too much on national government strategies like the key stage 3 strategy, and were the least positive about CPD.

Newly-qualified and secondary teachers were more likely to do courses out of "personal interest". NQTs spent more time on improving their teaching skills and subject knowledge.

Women also focused on these areas, whereas men were more likely to concentrate on developing their professional, leadership and management skills.

Primary teachers did most CPD, and were most likely to be doing literacy and numeracy training. Special school teachers complained about the lack of training tailored to their needs.

Most of the training (71 per cent) on Inset days was provided by school staff. But teachers gave higher ratings to training provided by external consultants.

The Government's New Opportunities Fund ICT training programme came in for particular criticism because it did not meet teachers' needs.

"Teachers' Perceptions of Continuing Professional Development", DfES research brief number 429, www.dfes.gov.ukresearch

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