Why community is now key to CPD

18th May 2012 at 01:00

This week we've got a student teacher writing, and where better to start a special issue on continuing professional development? CPD is increasingly seen as a continuum from initial teacher education through to senior leadership training. Eve Dickson (page 25) has just completed her primary BEd and is soon to start her probation year - she knows not where, because she ticked the "waiver box", but awaits her fate.

Eve looks back on a whirlwind of creativity, the glory of passing final placement, the triumphs and turmoils of her four-year training, but recognises that the "hoop jumping" continues. That will not just be in her probation year, as she anticipates, but throughout her career, now the General Teaching Council for Scotland requires a "professional update" every five years. Despite some apprehension, Eve conveys a fresh optimism about her new home, class, school and life.

How sad, then, to read of the young teacher in England who has given up after three years and one term (page 36). Could it be that the job is just too hard, she ponders: "What I do know is that I very nearly lost my passion and every other aspect of my life went downhill." Lily Morton (not her real name) feels she was born to teach. She loves the job, but it destroys her. It is a conflict many will know, but with the support of colleagues it should be preventable.

Take a group of teachers like those at Girvan Academy who are cultivating their garden together in a seven-acre landsite gifted by the local Nestle factory (pages 18-21). These colleagues are enthusiastically exploring the possibilities, digging for new approaches to outdoor learning and Curriculum for Excellence. Never mind "collegiality", as the jargon puts it; what they convey is a sense of camaraderie.

Then look at the story of Pedagoo, a thriving online learning community "for teachers, by teachers" (page 23). Here is a growing band across Scotland that has decided to defy the bad publicity given to CfE and is "incredibly positive" about it. These are teachers who are "doing it for themselves", as Fearghal Kelly puts it. They constantly share and bounce ideas around through blogs, Twitter, TeachMeets and "Pedagoo Fridays".

"Community" is increasingly what CPD is about. It's no longer just individuals putting in their 35 hours a year. It's teachers doing learning rounds, departments across an authority visiting each other and networks across the country sharing and supporting each other - novices and experts together. Scotland may not have chosen to go down the route of a national college for school leaders (News Focus, pages 12-15), but there is a growing awareness at all levels that, as Balfron head Val Corry states, "None of us is as good as all of us."

gillian.macdonald@tess.co.uk, Editor of the year (business and professional).

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