Teachers spend their spare time on compulsory training

11th December 2009 at 00:00
IfL says time off for professional development should be encouraged, not cancelled

Teaching staff are being forced to carry out compulsory professional development in their own time as colleges and training providers cancel time off for training.

The Institute for Learning (IfL) said providers needed to do more to support their staff after its review of the first year of mandatory training and development found that lecturers were being left to cope alone.

Fewer than half of lecturers even told their employers what continuing professional development (CPD) they had done - a sign of colleges' and training providers' lack of involvement.

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of IfL, said: "CPD is often cancelled by their (teachers') managers or time off is cancelled because they are needed to cover for other members of staff.

"The experience of the learner is improved by developing staff so it's a false economy to take money out of frontline teaching and training.

"There are some wonderful examples of good practice, but what we hear from members is that it is consistently and persistently a concern."

IfL said colleges and providers that did not invest in CPD were missing important opportunities, citing research by the Hay Group, which said companies in the top quartile for training and development had much higher revenue growth.

The lack of support from colleges and providers threatens the consensus around compulsory CPD, which the University and College Union supported providing teachers were given the time for development.

Thirty-six per cent of IfL members have still failed to declare their required 30 hours of CPD and have been set a new deadline of December 31, but they are unlikely to face any sanctions this academic year.

Those who did participate exceeded the requirements. IfL said 98 per cent of the 116,000 people who responded had undertaken more than 30 hours' work, with younger lecturers particularly likely to go beyond the call of duty.

An average lecturer reported spending 57 hours on development last year, with about 24 hours on teaching practice, 21 hours on subject specialism, and the remainder updating their knowledge of policy or local issues.

Professor Jocelyn Robson of the Institute for Policy Studies in Education, who carried out a longitudinal study of a group of new IfL members during the last year, said: "By the end of the study, most of the respondents believed that membership of the IfL had enhanced their sense of professional identity. They felt more able to take responsibility and control of their own career development and training."

But the institute said it hoped to see a wider range of CPD activities among its members. Collaborative methods such as mentoring, team teaching or work shadowing were seen as more effective than courses or conferences, but the institute said it regarded anything from voluntary work in the community to working as an examiner to be professional development.

Training on how to deal with new technology was among the most common CPD need identified by members in the IfL survey.

Pat Bacon, Association of Colleges president, said colleges sometimes cancelled CPD but that many of them invested heavily in staff training. "Our members take staff development seriously and support CPD in order to be able to offer a first-class education to students and to incorporate best practice across the board."

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