Return means re-learn

5th October 2007 at 01:00
Teachers, like nurses, could find GTC registration linked to workplace training

ELEANOR FENNEY is one teacher who believes that tying registration to workplace learning is overdue.

Ms Fenney has retrained as a teacher after ten years as an intensive care nurse.

As a nurse, she recently dealt with a middle-aged woman with Addison's disease, a rare condition that Ms Fenney knew nothing about. The woman's blood pressure was low and she was in septic shock. But Ms Fenney, because of her continued learning courses, knew where to find the information that she needed on the internet to give her patient the correct care.

This week Ms Fenney, 32, was on her first week of work placement at Park High School in the Wirral after two years' training part-time at Edge Hill University.

"In medicine, things change so fast with scientific advances, changes in practice and in government policy," she said. "In hospitals your patients need to know that you are constantly extending yourself. In schools, your pupils need to know that. If the pupils are going to keep learning, then teachers need to keep learning."

Keith Bartley, chief executive of England's General Teaching Council, suggests in today's TES that continuing professional development could be made a criterion of keeping teachers' registration active.

Linking active registration to on-the-job training should be no problem for most full-time teachers, whose new performance management framework requires schools to identify and meet their development needs.

But teachers returning from a career break might have more difficulty meeting the criteria for active registration, as would some part-timers and supply teachers who do not have good work-based learning opportunities.

John Dunn, a director of the supply agency Select Education, said that requiring actively registered teachers to keep their technology skills and curriculum knowledge up to date would be a step in the right direction. But it was important that the Government provided refresher training, or returning teachers could be disadvantaged.

"It would be potentially discriminatory if time out for childcare became a barrier to women furthering their careers," he said.

Esther Macfarlane has only been out of teaching for eight months, while having her son Alfie. But the 34-four-year said she felt she was running to catch up with changes to the curriculum and technology.

Last month, she began picking up the odd day of supply teaching near her Manchester home.

"It's a very fast-moving world, and you can feel a little bit out of the loop," she said. "You do need to think about the skills you need to return to the profession, but I don't think it should be a mandatory part of your registration."

How other professions register their members

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Nurses and midwives must re-register every three years. They must prove that they have worked at least 450 hours since last registering, and have completed 35 hours of post-registration education programmes. If they have not, they must complete a "return to practice" course.

Solicitors Regulation Authority

Solicitors must renew their practising certificate every year, declaring that they have completed 16 hours of continuing professional development, and have insurance cover. They must also contribute to the solicitors' compensation fund.

Architects Registration Board

Like teachers, architects have been able to stay registered for their whole career as long as they keep paying the fees. But, from next year, practising architects who renew their registration will be deemed to have confirmed that they have been actively working, and have undertaken professional development during the past two years.

General Medical Council

The Department of Health this year proposed an overhaul of doctors' registration. In future, doctors could be required to renew their registration every five years, revalidating their licences to practise and confirming that their specialties are up to date.

Health Professions Council

The HPC oversees 13 professions including physiotherapists, radiographers and paramedics. Active registrants must sign a declaration every two years confirming that they have continued to practise their profession or have updated their skills and knowledge.

Registration isn't enough, page 28

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