Primary staff face CPD pressures

30th September 2005 at 01:00
Primary teachers feel under more pressure than their secondary colleagues to do CPD work for their school's benefit, according to a survey by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Its study shows that 75 per cent of all teachers say their prime motivation in continuing professional development is to develop personal needs, but far more primary teachers are channelled into improving skills and knowledge that are directed by local and national priorities.

A draft report, Enhancing Professional Practice through CPD, highlights the "tension" among primary staff "between CPD designed to meet the personal, professional development needs of teachers and CPD designed to support schoollocalnational priorities".

Nearly 40 per cent of pre-school and primary teachers say that the needs of their school have been a driver in their CPD, against nearly 28 per cent in secondary. Just over 20 per cent of primary teachers also say local and national priorities are significant CPD influences against almost 13 per cent in secondary.

The three most common types of CPD are non-award bearing short courses, face-to-face collaborative work and personal study.

One teacher quoted said: "Best CPD experiences have involved observing good practice and being able to take ideas back to the classroom."

Another said: "Practice-led research is by far the most rewarding and helpful way to develop self-evaluation and reflection in practice."

But a further teacher added: "Short courses are hit and miss; subject specific courses are excellent; generic courses are weaker."

Not all teachers have happy CPD experiences, as another related: "No visits to other classesschools permitted by head as no supply cover. Same reason given for shadowing ban."

Teachers report that their most successful CPD experiences have been when they are "relevant to classroom practice" and "promote thinking, reassure or incite change".

Six out of 10 manage to evaluate the impact of CPD on their professional practice once back in school, but many complain they lack the time for this or place a low priority on it.

The majority (58 per cent) continue to record their activities on paper, perhaps because, as one teacher put it: "The current online system is laborious and unclear."

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