Union warns of risk to PLP

Personal learning planning for pupils must not be simply a paper trail, one of the leaders of the Educational Institute for Scotland has warned.

George MacBride, convener of the union's education committee, told a teachers' meeting this week in Galashiels that the introduction of PLP, one of Education Minister Peter Peacock's most cherished policies, could indeed have benefits for pupils and teachers.

But these would only be apparent if the scheme was implemented in a way that did not create additional workload demands which impeded teaching and learning.

Mr MacBride commended the approach adopted in the Scottish Borders, where the education authority and teachers' representatives had worked together to agree a method of introducing PLP based upon the principles of the Assessment is for Learning programme.

The Scottish Executive has said that a personal learning planning process should be introduced for all pupils in schools over time.

Mr MacBride said: "Learners learn best when they understand what they are trying to learn, when they are given feed-back about the quality of their work and what they can do to improve it.

"Personal learning planning is a process, it is not a product and cannot be about filling in tick boxes on sheets of paper or on a computer screen.

"Personal learning planning cannot be about the creation of paper trails, nor can it be about writing and filing pages of notes about every pupil in the class or setting a myriad of targets for each child to achieve on a monthly basis.

"Such approaches lead to teachers' time being spent on administrative tasks of little worth, and take away time from planning, teaching and evaluation," he said.

Mr MacBride called on directors of education and senior education authority staff to engage in partnership working with teachers in the introduction of PLP in schools.

"If local authority representatives do not pay heed to what teachers are saying, PLP will ultimately fail," he warned.

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