Individual professional autonomy is at the core of the new requirement in the FE sector for 30 hours of CPD. However, colleges will want to make sure that they have reviewed procedures to take account of the new regulations.
As part of the drive towards a fully qualified and professional workforce in the further education sector, all full-time teachers, trainers and tutors working in general FE colleges in England will be required to register with the Institute for Learning (IfL), the professional body for the learning and skills sector, by 31 March.
The position is slightly different in sixth form colleges, where some teachers may be eligible for membership of the General Teaching Council (GTC) and can choose to join either organisation.
However, the more significant change is that teaching staff must also demonstrate an annual 30-hour commitment to continuing professional development (CPD), with a pro-rata requirement for part-time staff.
The IfL, which is leading on the CPD requirement, has emphasised that professional autonomy is the foundation of its model for effective professional practice, which has meant that there is no additional requirement placed on employers - it is the individual's responsibility to complete the required number of hours and to share this with both the institute and the employer.
As good practice, of course, employers are being encouraged to draw up development plans that allow space, time and support for appropriate development to occur.
CPD is not limited to the obvious accredited courses, workshops or formal study. It can include such activities as reading, work shadowing, visiting local schools or employers, or being a governor in another institution. The golden rule is that it should be identified and recorded as a development activity.
The IfL will require all members to declare that they have completed their CPD requirement before they can be re-registered and, without registered status, teachers should not be delivering LSC-funded provision.
Ofsted and the LSC will be key drivers in compliance, although the expectation is that every institution will want to move towards a fully qualified and professional workforce.
The institute will sample evidence of CPD for 2008-09 and then audit that evidence, which may mean making visits to an individual or to a regional centre.
At Birkenhead Sixth Form College, in order to ensure that everyone is meeting the new regulations, principal Kathryn Podmore has reviewed procedures with the director of learning and achievement responsible for CPD.
All members of staff will maintain portfolios, with records of CPD, which will be checked on a regular basis. These will give staff a reliable record of their training and will provide evidence for inspection purposes.
Staff development is also recorded centrally by the college and monitored by one of the directors of learning and achievement, who also administers the budget.
All staff have annual professional development reviews in which they discuss their training needs with their line manager, subsequently identifying possible CPD experiences that will assist in meeting them.
All CPD at the college should link in with the strategic objectives and may be of departmental value as well as useful for individuals. Links with needs identified in the college self-assessment report (SAR) or as a result of receiving feedback from students will also ensure that the development activities are focused, relevant and useful.
To help staff model effective practice, the IfL is making available from 1 April, when the first mandatory CPD cycle begins, an online personalised learning space called REfLECT. This allows members to plan, evaluate and record their CPD in a private and secure space; and critically reflect on ideas of effective practice and share them with others.
They can create multiple webfolios for a range of purposes including appraisal, accreditation and career advancement as well as for demonstrating the completion of CPD to their employer and the institute.
At Birkenhead SFC, staff who choose to register with the IfL will be encouraged to use the REfLECT online learning space. All staff have already been encouraged to visit the IfL website and have received written information about its services.
Like most colleges, Birkenhead is eagerly awaiting news about whether or not Bill Rammell is planning to match his support of the IfL members by paying GTC membership for those sixth form teachers who qualify.
Despite this financial conundrum, the CPD director at Birkenhead is working to ensure that all staff are registered with either the GTC or IfL before the due date of 1 April and will expect to receive annual summaries from both organisations to confirm staff registration.
At a sixth form college like Birkenhead, Kathryn admits it is relatively straightforward to ensure that colleagues meet the 30-hour CPD rule, as the college has five days annually of central staff development. Any individually identified CPD may be over and above this.
In general FE colleges, where such an arrangement is not so common, there may well be a need for some innovative thinking on college or faculty-wide staff development events as well as consideration of what actually constitutes CPD.
For further ASCL advice on CPD for colleges, see guidance paper 42 in the members area of the website www.ascl.org.uk For further information on the IfL, including a copy of the CPD model and guidelines, go to www.ifl.ac.uk
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