On the ground

24th June 2005 at 01:00
Phil Revell on how the General Teaching Council and local authority partnerships are working

Vicki Hugo deputy head

William C Harvey school, Haringey, north London: 4 to19 special school for children with profound and multiple special needs "I felt it was important that special schools were represented as there are quite specific problems for special school teachers. Mainstream schools can network, but we are the only SLD (severe learning difficulties) school in the area.

Training courses are usually irrelevant to our needs. But, for inclusion to work, it's important for special and mainstream schools to understand each other.

The continuing professional development project has allowed our school to reflect on what it is doing. CPD is already important. All our teachers have non-contact time and we spend about 1.5 per cent of our budget on CPD, which is quite high compared with mainstream schools.

The project is helping me to look at a strategy. We are looking at networks with other SLD schools across London, doing swaps with special needs assistants - a very effective form of training. We are also interested in developing professional portfolios for the staff as a way of recording their CPD. The time allowance has been really welcome - it's allowed me more time to think about opportunities - better ways to feed back information from courses. When you are in the school all day you don't get that kind of time to reflect."

Sue Palmer head George Washington primary school, Tyne and Wear: 4 to11, 400 on roll

"We opened in 2002 as an amalgamation of three schools. I was seconded to the GTC project earlier this year. We were an early adapter school for the workforce remodelling agreement.

In Sunderland, we wanted a new strategy for CPD for the local education authority. We had support staff , teachers and leaders all discussing the issues together. We also had a providers' group of trainers, advisers, speech and language therapists and behaviour specialists.

We are collecting data about what people want and what they need, about how people are valued and what contribution they make to their school.

Support staff are asking questions about how much they are worth. They want to know whether CPD is open for all staff. They'd like time in school to develop with other colleagues and the right to have some sort of professional interview or appraisal. Some have said that they had been told that professional interviews were "only for teachers".

Teachers want CPD to be for all individuals in a school. They want it to be high-quality and accessible. They have raised the problem of the conflict between professional and personal development.

Heads want to take responsibility for their own learning and think quality development should be delivered by inspired people. They want CPD to have an impact on teaching, learning and achievement.

We haven't had a massive success in the secondaries. Perhaps secondary schools feel that they have enough capacity to do this for themselves.

For schools in Sunderland, there should be a clear message about what effective continuing professional development looks like. We know what bad CPD looks like - everybody hated PowerPoint".

Pat Elcock adviser, Haringey

"It's a small-scale project to help schools develop CPD. We've got 12 schools - five secondaries and seven primaries - and we've developed a framework that outlines the stages in a teacher's career and the options that are available to them. The ethos is about developing whole-school staff. We would like to create ways for teachers to progress and move on within the borough. We want to invest in our staff and hold on to them where possible. One way to do that is through supportive CPD leaders - helping them to do their job.

Good continuing professional development is about good leadership, identifying opportunities for people. Schools need to ask what skills the leaders need to have."

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