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Stay on course

Once upon a time - and it wasn't so long ago - there was no such thing as professional development. There were only courses, advertised in booklets and on the staff notice board, some of which were regarded by busy teachers as thinly disguised rest and recuperation breaks.

Now, though, the world of school is different. "Courses" have metamorphosed first into "in-service training" and most recently into "continuing professional development" (CPD). The vision now is of the teacher following a well planned career trail marked out by an escalating series of qualifications all linked to school and personal professional needs.

And CPD won't just revolve around courses - much of the scheme will take the form of in-school projects, monitored and guided by management, and validated through portfolios of evidence that will build up throughout the teacher's career.

Progress, necessarily, will need to be monitored and recorded so that the teacher, the teacher's own managers and the leaders responsible for school development can see the whole picture. Add in the evidence demands of performance management, and you have yet another area of school life that's sitting up and begging for an IT solution.

A recent arrival into this field is Version 2 of Ascon Education's Staff Developer. The system has been developed with the help of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and extensively piloted in a range of schools. It brings together a range of CPD activities including individual staff portfolios, NQT monitoring, training and development reviews and outcome tracking - for recording the impact of training and development both on individuals and the school. Access is password protected at numerous levels and there is an archive that allows staff to keep and look at their records from past years.

We've really only glanced at parts of what is clearly a very comprehensive software tool, and the interest and support shown by the NAHT is clearly significant. Ascon Education reports considerable interest from schools and authorities, and we intend to look at Staff Developer in more detail when it's more widely established at school level.

Price for the whole system is pound;1,781 though there's a significant launch discount, and NAHT members are also eligible for a 15 per cent discount. It is also possible to buy modules separately.

Gerald Haigh

Staff Developer 2 Ascon Education

Tel: 0207 272 4838

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