Professional development for FE & Skills Practitioners

CPD1How would you feel if you went to…

a doctors and, while waiting for your appointment, discovered that the doctor hadn’t had any Professional development 4 practitioner training since they qualified in the 70’s?

CPD2Or, perhaps even worse if you went to…

the dentist and had to have a filling, only to find she was going to use a drill powered by a treadle?

Well in the ever changing world of FE & Skills, there are TTWWADI practitioners (That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It) that haven’t engaged with the Professional development 4 FE & Skills Practitioners (PD4P) available, and/or embraced new and emerging technologies.

The question is…

“How can FE & Skills Learning Providers take them and their CPD training to the next level?”

I hope that we all agree that practitioners need to grasp training opportunities with both hands.

Yes I know Learning Providers need to offer more support and time for training, but practitioners also need to take responsibility for their own personal development.

CPD3As an eLearning Adviser, before retirement, I often reflected on the training that I had received, and counted those times in which I believed it had made a significant impact on my career.

The number barely reaches the first finger on my second hand.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t reflect on my current practice, remain open to critique and simply want to do better.

I’d like to think that ultimately, what attracts practitioners to our profession is their innate disposition to impart knowledge, inspire and to continue to learn for themselves.

CPD4However, this isn’t the case for all TTWWADI practitioners and perhaps that’s where we let ourselves down.

Yes I’d agree with any practitioner, that the number of effective training sessions is rare.

Practitioners, young and old, new and established should be given the time to…

develop, share and train…

…in order to meet the needs of their evolving learners.

“Surely we’re preparing learners for the future, not our past.”

It shouldn’t be left to those new to the profession, nor those ‘on a course’ or on some sort of ‘leadership pathway’.

To be fair, Initial Teacher Training doesn’t address the needs of new practitioners in the potential of using New & Emerging Technology (uNET)

Training and good quality development should be available to all. Regular and sustained training should be part of the daily diet of all practitioners.

CPD5Even in retirement, my day to day tasks are never complete. I never finish the to-do list; I always have…

  • something new to learn,
  • something else to share with others or
  • another resource, another tool, or another find, to disseminate, or evaluate and/or create.

This is the true nature of the profession (Even when you’ve retired).

Disseminating, learning, and reflecting.

We should all be given the time to learn frequently and in a robust, supportive and challenging manner that provides regular development that in turn leads somewhere useful for each individual.

At the moment, I don’t think this exists for every practitioner.

Training days…

  • at worst, are one-size-fits-all chalk and talk, OHP and a screen for many these days, in a hall or for some, they get self-directed time which they inevitably use for marking or planning or just catching up with essential tasks.
  • at best, practitioner training days are well-planned. They are sustainable, specific to the individual and ones that makes significant impact on the practitioner, as well as their learners within their learning environments.

However the standard model of continued professional development is based on the idea that practitioners lack important knowledge.

In my case, for the last 45 plus years, most professional development has been designed to address those deficits.

The end result – practitioners who are more knowledgeable, but no more effective in practice.

I look forward to a day where CPD is so inherently established that it becomes part of every practitioners’ career; that individualised personal development become the norm, not a desire for the determined and those with funds liberally allocated for Inset courses, master’s degrees and those with time on their hands.

I look forward to a day that an approach to professional development becomes…

  • CPD6so ingrained that we cannot work without it. Where CPD is considered vital to our development and routinely established as part of our working week.
  • so vital that practitioners can’t secure jobs, promotions, pay-rises or any credibility without an accurate log of their own reflective CPD journey.

What do I mean?

Well can you recall your professional development training over the past five years?

Is there a record of your training that’s easily accessible to you, your employers, and your personal partnerships, such as a university or a colleague or prospective employers?

If your answer is a resounding “no”, then I suggest FE & Skills Learning Providers need to provide all practitioners with ways of making learning feasible within the working day and not something that is limited to five days a year or, for most, being left to our own devices.

Perhaps adopting a Flipped CPD model that enables practitioners to engage with the Martini approach – any time, any place, anywhere – so that the face-2-face opportunities are about application of skills, not being talked at. CPD that’s also personalised, where ever possible.

Should FE & Skills Learning Providers change the way they structure their CPD training?

There are already a whole range of options that are available to enhance the delivery of Professional Development for Practitioners and to ensure FE & Skills Practitioners use New & Emerging Technologies to enhance their current practice not just to tick a box.

See: Days of Staff Development, are they effective?

CPD7John Dalziel
Retired eLearning Adviser


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