Chartered teachers may take on appraisal role

18th February 2011 at 00:00
CPD team moots controversial option for `professional review and development'

Chartered teachers could be given the job of carrying out teacher appraisals, according to leading figures in the field.

The controversial idea has been floated by members of the national CPD team, partly in response to a survey it has carried out into teachers' professional review and development (PRD) - the preferred term for appraisals. It follows highly critical comments in the Donaldson review of teacher education, which noted that "too often the PRD process has limited credibility and fails to reconcile effectively the competing demands of external and personal learning needs".

Bob Cook of the CPD team said its findings showed there was "insufficient ownership by many teachers of their continuing professional development and not enough commitment to their own professional learning and development". Taking on responsibility for guiding other teachers' professional development would be "a good role" for chartered teachers, given their own commitment to CPD, he told their conference in Stirling.

Teachers still did not think of what they did every day as CPD and there was still insufficient evidence of their linking their CPD to its impact, Mr Cook said. Chartered teachers might be well placed to bring about an improvement.

The suggestion received a mixed welcome from CTs attending the seminar. Some questioned whether such a role would be timetabled into their working hours, while others wondered if other teachers would resent being appraised by CTs.

"If our role had clarification, that would help," one chartered teacher commented.

Mr Cook and Catriona Oates of the national CPD team presented the results of their survey to a workshop at the conference of the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland, entitled Professional Review and Development - the Wicked Issue.

The need for better PRD and CPD was backed by Tom Hamilton, director of educational policy at the General Teaching Council for Scotland. He linked it to his organisation's new role monitoring teachers' ongoing competence, which it prefers to call "professional update" rather than reaccreditation.

"We hope that professional update will be built on good-quality PRD and good-quality CPD, and indeed professional responsibility," he said.

Mr Cook said teachers should take the view that PRD was "for them" and that they should be setting the agenda.

"It should not be an inquisition or a nightmare, or so cosy that you just have a lovely wee chat and nothing is changed," he added. "It should be an honest professional conversation based on the needs of the reviewee."

The national CPD team had carried out its investigation using the online tool SurveyMonkey. But Mr Cook accepted that its findings were not completely scientific as respondents were self-selecting and therefore not necessarily representative of the teacher population.

It found that one in three respondents was working towards an additional qualification; 65 per cent had a PRD in the previous year; and 75 per cent maintained a CPD record.

These were all good findings, Mr Cook said. They indicated that, at least among those who were interested and completed the review, it was generally seen as an important and positive experience.

However, 28 per cent said their reviewer was not well prepared; 25 per cent said their reviewer did not recognise their strengths; and 25 per cent did not maintain a CPD record.

Feedback from reviewers showed that 83 per cent tried to be challenging, which led to the conclusion that, in some circumstances, the exercise was too cosy to be effective. A significant number of reviewers said they were responsible for reviewing more than nine staff and some reviewed up to 21 staff; 50 per cent did not ask the reviewee for feedback.

"There are people doing this in a manner that is absolutely exemplary, but folk are not using it to improve their practice," Mr Cook observed.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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