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Small steps, clear goals is way to go

CPD for teachers should follow the example of WeightWatchers, according to an educational guru.

Ruth Sutton believes jargon and euphemism are dragging down the standard of feedback for teachers, to a level that would not be accepted in work with pupils. "We have to rethink our professional development, almost back to square one," said the consultant at the Scottish Learning Festival last week.

A good way to start, she insisted, would be to follow the example of WeightWatchers. The slimming company set clear goals, to be achieved with small, manageable steps. It stressed the importance of perseverance, collaboration and accountability to a group.

Ms Sutton, who organises international "assessment for learning" conferences, fears ACfE will be seen by some as a "project" to replace older projects such as Assessment is for Learning. The capital letters of AiFL made it look like a "project with a finite duration", when it should be the mechanism used to bring about the new curriculum. "Once you adapt these principles, you adapt them forever, not just until the next bandwagon comes along," she said.

Ms Sutton also revealed there was widespread admiration at her international conferences for Scotland's approach to assessment. She believes Scottish schools have important steps to take if they are to get the most from AiFL. These would include improving parents' understanding of AiFL, perhaps through conferences organised by pupils, and re-examining every aspect of CPD programmes at school and local authority level.

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