Masters in Pedagogy and Practice: Assessment
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What is good PD?

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!

How does the MA(PP) fulfill this?

The structure of the MA(PP) is set out to allow you to do this:

  • Explore and examine the practice in your classrooms (Moon, 2000)
  • Reflect on these practices and then consider these both within the practice of your institution and against the wider literature, having the opportunity to discuss this with colleagues and with tutors,
  • Develop a small-scale piece of action or practitioner research which turns these reflections into a "doable" plan,
  • Carry out this plan in order to then see the impact on teaching and learning in your classroom(s).

This then takes you back to the beginning of the cycle and you can go around again (and again if you want!).

So we think that the MA(PP) is something that CPD leaders in school should see as excellent CPD and something worth paying for. The cost of a module of the MA(PP) is about the same as 2 days of INSET on a course - and we think (and yes we are biased!) rather better value for money.

How does this support the work of my school / institution?

As well as being excellent professional development the MA(PP) can be excellent for your school / institution:

  • Bringing current research into the school for discussion and dissemination,
  • Working on a project for school and pupil improvement,
  • Doing research to explore and potentially improve practice in your own classroom and in the institution,
  • Becoming research experts and research leaders in your institution.

Doing the MA(PP) is excellent value for money for your school in terms of professional development for the individuals and the institution. The entire MA(PP) costs about the same as 6 INSET days and as Hargreaves and Brighouse say above much more effective as changers of practice.

References
  • Barber, M and Mourshed, M (2007) How the worlds education systems come out on top London and New York, McKinsey
  • Brighouse, T (2012) Education in Wonderland - http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/blog/education-in-wonderland [Accessed, Jan 2015]
  • Hargreaves, D H, (2011) Leading a self-improving school system, Nottingham, National College for School Leadership
  • Kolb D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning experience as a source of learning and development, New Jersey: Prentice Hall
  • Moon, J (2000) Refelction in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice, Routledge, London