There is widespread international agreement that the biggest influence on quality of the education in a school is the quality of the teachers:
"The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers"
[Barber and Mouched, 2007:13]
And the quality of the teachers will depend on the training, support and guidance they they receive. For too long professional development in schools has been organised as "INSET days" either on-site or off-site. These have been characterised by David Hargreaves as:
"occasional activity that is sharply distinguished in time and space from routine classroom work, where you listen to or read about some great ideas but then struggle to implement these in your own school or classroom"
In the Carter review of teacher training (2014) it says that it is:
"important that trainees understand how to interpret educational theory and research in a critical way, so they are able to deal with contested issues" and "national evidence, including the RSA-BERA inquiry (British Educational Research Association (BERA), 2014), shows us that high-performing systems induct their teachers in the use, assessment and application of research findings" (p.8)
Tim Brighouse talks about the four fundamentals for effective CPD:
- Responsibility for their own development,
- Circumstances where they can take risks and not be blamed,
- Opportunities to have time to reflect outside of the classroom and look at wider practice,
- Respect for wanting to develop
and he says that, "If you had to suggest six ways to make CPD in schools successful, providing a few hundred pounds for bursaries for teachers to engage in small action research or curriculum enquiry projects would be one of these" [SedEd (2012): online]
As you can see below in Robinson's analysis on the impact of effective devleopment for leadership support PD is at the core of school improvement and the MA(PP) is excellent teacher development.
There are recognised good practices some of the which are being developed and some of which are not - but many of these sit with an improvement cycle - perhaps the best know of which is Kolb's:
and what is mostly needed is some time between the stages of the cycle - in a "away day" or a "course" there is little time between t he concrete experience of the course (where there are often great ideas) and then the active experimentation when you want to put that into place in your classroom - and that is if you can.
Good PD gets us to think about the ideas or the practice in our own classroom (concrete experience) but then having time to reflect upon that both against the experience of colleagues and also the wider literature (the sages of the ages!) then formulating ideas from this in order to move practice on (abstract conceptualisation) and then implementing this in the classroom and the seeing what happens.
This takes time!