Is training joy or punishment?;Leading Article;Opinion

24th September 1999 at 01:00
FOR MANY teachers professional development has been more myth than reality.

Over successive years staff develop- ment has been the soft target in the budget, and become something of a staffroom joke. But we seem on the brink of an era where teachers will be almost duty bound to update themselves, and may even be thrown out of teaching if they do not. Sam Galbraith, the Children and Education Minis- ter, is surprised so many teachers he meets do not keep them- selves abreast of developments. He wants action.

As our special feature this week makes clear (ScotlandPlus), this is fast becoming yet another contentious division in Scot- tish education. If teachers are to be convinced this is not another attack, they will want to see staff development budgets restored and enhanced. In return, teachers may have to concede more contract flexibility to avoid disrupting pupils' learning.

There is no better illustration of the value of staff develop- ment than the early intervention schemes. This is a success story. Substantial funds have been injected to allow teachers to refresh their ideas on literacy.

Government, local authori- ties and teachers have worked in common purpose.

And at a time when the morale of the profession is reputed to be at rock bottom, the inspectors comment favourably on the com- mitment and enthusiasm of staff. For some infant teachers, this has been the first real taste of staff development. They will feel they have a right to more and a responsibility to seek it. All parties to the CPD wrangle would do well to remember this example. Investing in people, as the government slogan suggests, is the best solution.

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