CPD - a staple part of the profession's diet

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

This week we have a special issue on continuing professional development - or CPD as it's better known. It's remarkable how things have moved on, even since the last issue on the topic in December.

CPD is no longer just an event or a course but an everyday process, as Gillian Robinson put it at a recent Professional Learning conference in Glasgow (page 6), so it now crops up everywhere and is evolving in fascinating ways.

Increasingly, people are doing it for themselves, from student teachers at the University of Strathclyde to the most experienced heads in Aberdeen. For professional development, as the Donaldson report on teacher education says, starts from day one of training and is continuous throughout a teacher's career.

Last month, we ran a news story on how third- and fourth-year student teachers from Strathclyde were giving struggling young readers one-to-one tuition four days a week and helping them to make huge progress. Now we have gone into the school in Glasgow to see how the students are developing their own understanding as they endeavour to come up with solutions for each child's difficulties and pass information to fellow students so that they can contribute their insights to the process (page 18).

Up north, secondary teachers in remote schools from Orkney and Shetland to the Western Isles and Perth and Kinross are also collaborating, this time across hundreds of miles, to grapple with the challenges of moderating children's work in Curriculum for Excellence. Staff in single-teacher departments need no longer feel isolated and tentative about their assessments of new courses, as they support each other and share views via webcams and Glow (page 22).

Meanwhile, in West Dunbartonshire, headteachers on the authority's Leadership for Learning programme are inspecting one another's exam results to see how they can notch up attainment (page 5), and in Aberdeen, they are mentoring each other not just in the day-to-day business of running schools but in more strategic matters (page 24).

These initiatives do not reduce the value of action-research programmes like the support groups being piloted by behaviour guru Joan Mowat in Aberdeenshire and Falkirk. Her expertise is helping heads and teachers to discover new ways to cope with situations such as low-level disruption in their schools (News Focus, pages 12-15). But once set up, they can evolve on their own.

Add to those, messages from Mike Gershon on tried-and-tested methods for group work in the classroom (page 26), teachers' ideas and resources for outdoor learning (pages 28-29) and Brian Cooklin on what makes British teachers - and Scottish ones in particular - so appealing to international employers (page 35), and this week's issue is jam-packed with professional advice of one form or another.

gillian.macdonald@tess.co.uk.

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