Having signed up to an interesting project called #blogsync, I find myself writing a response to the question: ‘What is the change you’d like to see in education in your lifetime?’ When I think of change I recall a quote from Maya Angelou- I did what I knew. And when I knew better, I did better. This seems to sum up the process of change; how the way we teach and train our teachers can stagnate if we’re not careful.
The question breeds further, much more complex musings. If a great change is required, then one needs to pinpoint the problems or inefficiencies in the current system. It’s easy to regurgitate the popular gripes: teacher workload; Ofsted; exams; politicians; attitudes towards the profession in the media; family life etc but to me this seems a fallacy. Many of these issues are beyond the control of the humble teacher.
Therefore, great teaching has to be the priority. Again, easy to say. Teachers need the time, the trust and the guidance to become truly expert. This is not necessarily achieved through such arguments as aiming to attract the most talented graduates, nor expecting teaching to be a post graduate qualification.
In school CPD has to be sensible, yet brave. Sensible enough to avoid the nonsense, flavour of the month type training, yet brave enough to commit to longer term development. One off days led by educational consultants who are not currently teaching well consistently, and who churn out the same presentations regardless of the school they’re visiting, clearly is not the way. Head teachers would not allow this sort of model for the children they are tasked with educating, so why should it be sufficient for the education of teachers?
CPD can make a difference if it is led well. Teachers should be trusted and supported to develop pedagogies in a way that is appropriate for the children that they teach. One size, contrary to popular belief, does not fit all. Pedagogies that stand up to action research in the classroom and avoid the fate of brain gym and the like take time to develop and need to have a thread through regular CPD in school.
So the change I’d like to see is a sensible, yet brave model for CPD across our schools. Weekly topics arbitrarily decided with little or no follow up development is no longer appropriate to develop excellent teachers.