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Wider picture for professional development

Recent articles and proposals on continuing professional development (CPD) have been a little idealistic and run the risk of missing out on other fundamental needs within education as a whole and schools in particular.

A similar aura abounded in the early days of senior teachers until the reality of managing schools overtook what was a commendable principle.

The development of CPD is obviously crucial in terms of the future of the profession. Relevance and progression will be key factors in the process and success will be defined according to the quality of provision and subsequent uptake by teachers.

In terms of structures, if the chartered teacher programme is planned over a five-year period, I would suggest that at the end of year three scope be created for diversion into other key areas as part of an overall development and opportunities strategy.

For example, candidates demonstrating particular attributes and a desire to take their career into spheres of management, guidance, support for learning or other relevant areas of school life should be able to spend the remaining two years pursuing appropriate activities and qualifications in these more specialised domains.

In the case of management courses, these could be designed to facilitate a progression route into the Scottish Qualification for Headship, thereby alleviating some existing workload issues. The current model for the SQH places severe pressures on senior managers, discourages applications from some able teachers, causes significant drop-out and does not by its nature necessarily attract all of the best candidates.

The challenge, however, lies in taking these broad principles forward, influencing the decision-makers and engaging the profession in meaningful discussion and debate. What is required is a logical and properly targeted structure for CPD to meet both personal requirements and wider educational demands.

Hopefully, the CPD debate and planning processes will ultimately produce sound, broad parameters in terms of relevance and meeting needs, while at the same time holding to the principle of improving teacher skills to support learning and teaching in the classroom.

Archie Ferguson

Willow Avenue


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