Those who have the support are the ones who flourish and fly
New teachers are not receiving enough continuing professional development after their induction year, claims a Glasgow University team.
Their report, commissioned by the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Government, and published last week, found that although probationers received high levels of formal support, there was a "lack of continuity in appropriate levels of support between years two and six of a teachers' career, exacerbated by financial constraints on CPD funding".
A survey by one local authority of its post-probationers found their principal concern was the lack of a main point of contact to act as a mentor or supporter when they entered their full-time post. "What you find is those who are best are those who continue to have some kind of support, development and encouragement from within the department or within the school. That doesn't mean to say that those who don't have it aren't good teachers or doing good things, but those who have that kind of climate just flourish and just fly," said one local authority interviewee.
A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland echoed these findings, and commended the innovative work being done by Aberdeen University's Scottish Teachers for a New Era programme, which offers a six-year (2+2+2) support structure. The first two years of the four-year degree course focus on curriculum knowledge and "investigating learning", and the middle two years on the teaching process and links with the induction year. The final two years of the 2+2+2 structure cover the induction year and an extended year of mentoring and support.
The Glasgow University research team, led by Moira Hulme, also found that probationers following the alternative route - through doing supply teaching as was the norm before the Teacher Induction Scheme was introduced - received significantly lower levels of support than those completing the induction year, which allocates 0.7 of the week to teaching and 0.3 to CPD.
Teachers on supply or temporary contracts also lost out. "If people are in a school on a supply job, there is a reluctance to let them out during the school day to anything additional because they are already there covering something else," said an interviewee. "There is a misperception that there isn't a CPD budget for them and actually the CPD budget covers all members of staff."
The research, which focuses on whether new entrants in the last five years have become more professional in their outlook, confirms they are more positive towards CPD than experienced teachers: 70 per cent agreed that "professionals should have a contractual obligation to undertake CPD activities", compared with 61 per cent of other teachers.