Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Professional development framework from the TLA

Keith Cox draws attention to the Teacher Learning Academy and the potential benefits to ASCL members of becoming involved.

As professional development continues to diversify from the traditional model of external courses, the variety of activities undertaken under the umbrella of CPD brings greater opportunities - but also greater challenges.

One of those challenges is to ensure coherence, both at the individual institution level and of the education system as a whole.

That is where the Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) comes in. The TLA was established by the General Teaching Council in England (GTCE) to provide a national system for teacher learning and professional development.

It does not offer pre-designed courses or programmes but provides support for individual teachers and groups of teachers and recognition of professional development that happens through the everyday work of leading learning.

The TLA is based around a four-stage recognition framework. Stage one involves work from two or three weeks to half a term, focussed on the practice of an individual teacher or class. Stage two covers one or two terms and is based on work which has an impact on colleagues in the institution. Stage three covers two to three terms, based on work which has an impact beyond the institution. Stage four provides recognition for those who make a significant contribution to the professional knowledge base.

At the heart of the TLA approach is six dimensions which ensure that professional development is rigorous and is based on effective practice. The dimensions include familiarity with the established knowledge base of your work, coaching and mentoring, planning research, carrying out your plan, sharing your work and influencing others, and evaluation of the impact.

Following a successful pilot, the GTCE is now rolling out the programme nationally and ASCL has been working alongside it to support the TLA. A number of centres with experience of the TLA have been identified to provide fast track support and verification. These will act as the regional hubs.

Ossett School in West Yorkshire has been engaged with the TLA for just over two years. In that time over 50 teachers at the school have made successful presentations under the TLA framework. Ossett's TLA leader Martin Beedle explains the school's strategy for embedding the TLA in staff development. "We deliberately focused on stage one in the first instance so that the staff could get to know and understand the processes, structure and framework of the TLA. Many now see stage two and three as natural progression."

The TLA has also provided a focus for the school's work with specific groups of staff, including initial teacher training mentors, newly qualified teachers and their mentors, and those on leadership development programmes, along with their coaches.

It is interesting and topical that the TLA framework has been used at Ossett to support the work of staff undertaking masters level research. Could the TLA provide the much needed flexible and coherent framework for the government proposals to make teaching a masters level profession?

Perhaps the most powerful argument for the TLA lies in its philosophy. Martin says: "The beauty of the TLA is that it stems from the work that teachers are already engaged in rather than being a 'bolt on' activity. It focuses on teacher learning and its impact on student learning and contributes to our philosophy of leadership of learning at all levels."

The TLA gives staff recognition for the everyday work of leading learning. Along with that recognition comes a feeling of belonging to a learning community through teacher collaboration and coaching and mentoring.

  • For more detailed information about the TLA approach and how to get involved, visit the TLA section of the GTCE website at www.gtce.org.uk

Keith Cox is an assistant head and a member of ASCL's Professional Committee. He began working with the GTCE on development of the TLA in his former ASCL role as chair of the Management and Professional Services (MAPS) Committee.

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