Passing the CPD baton

17th October 2003 at 01:00
It comes as no surprise that Alan Ogg of HMI takes a relaxed view of the failings of the New Opportunities Fund programme of ICT training which, after all, was led in Scotland by the inspectorate (TESS, last week). But the bland evaluation of NOF that his HMI colleagues published recently is strikingly at odds with the scathing criticisms of the same programme provided south of the border by Ofsted.

Their evidence points to a programme that foundered due to multiple factors including lack of readiness of the technology, failure to motivate teachers, inattention to the professional realities of teachers' lives, and an underestimation of what is involved in developing appropriate knowledge and skills.

It is shocking that pound;230 million should have been so misdirected and that teachers should have had inflicted upon them a continuing professional development programme, the failure of which was largely predictable.

The inspectorate's sudden conversion to the new "Masterclass" approach to technology CPD would be more convincing if it was based upon a reflective analysis of why the previous NOF model failed.

From the limited information available, it appears that masterclass participants are treated as a privileged elite, given free laptop computers and other resources, and generally lavishly supported in their learning.

This is indeed a radical departure from NOF but unless the Scottish Executive is committed to an astounding level of investment, it is not clear how masterclass provides a generalisable model for CPD.

Although Ogg may be right to assert that "the baton has to be passed from the technology people to the teacher", it remains to be explained how this aim will be achieved by an initiative that apparently seeks to develop a few hundred more technology people.

Tom Conlon

University of Edinburgh

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