Lifelong Teaching Response

There were a number of constructive suggestions on direction of travel and how we might move forward.  Some were outward looking noting, for example, there was much to learn from other professions working with young people, that a shared resource across the sector for CPD would be welcome, development of a core that fitted most and engaging with the research community.  Relevance would be critical with the theme of lecturer ownership re-iterated and mentoring used to encourage taking of responsibility.  The potential of ‘sharing communities’ was also mentioned and the desire for change came through a number of contributions.


Curriculum Response

Once more, challenges were recognised in responses with eg increasing contact time for delivery would be detrimental to the quality of learner experience.  One comment noted that ‘lack of time’ reflected an excuse to erect a barrier to change suggesting the focus should be on how to make use of the time we have.  Needs of employers was prominent in contributions particularly related to ensuring qualifications reflected needs in terms of future requirements.  There was comment about the lack of a college community for Curriculum for Excellence and with the college learner profile to focus on 16-24 that will impact on our ability to deliver.

Leading for Learning Response

Responses reflected the view that teaching and the the support of learning generally require leadership skills.  Leadership develop should be a characteristic of professionalism with staff leading through taking responsibility of their own learning.  Contributions also reflected the need to establish commonality of values, standards, goals and aspirations.  Expectations of professional dialogue should be clear through induction/development programmes.

It is not easy response

Responses confirmed the increasing challenges ahead.  A number of comments recorded some of these challenges such as increased teaching loads, reduction in administrative support, insufficient CPD opportunities.  Future possibilities included more personalised learning.

In terms of comments related to addressing these challenges there were suggestions that we strengthen recruitment processes, introduce codes of practice to closely define professional responsibilities in a practical way, assign mentors, enhance performance management processes, provide smaller chunks of professional learning opportunities – ‘just-in-time-just-enough’ and create good models of ‘exemplary professional learning content and delivery.

Biggest Difference Response

Responses from group discussion indicated that relationships were paramount and that perhaps we already gave sufficient attention to the teaching process.

There was much comment on professional dialogue and our need to raise the quality with sensitive observation, use of online resources, continuing to work at overcoming reluctance to discuss performance, improving dialogue at course level, within and across institutions.  There was a need to maintain focus on pedagogy through on-going professional learning.

Some comments were around the interpretation of professional and that dual identity of expert in vocational area as well as a skilled teacher.

John McCann


Introduction response

A significant number of responses to the challenges posed mentioned TQFE with high expectations of the current review process and greater ownership in the sector.  The TQFE nomenclature could helpfully be altered and it should provide a good mix of academic grounding and practical skills development.  There was a call for improved partnership between colleges and universities.

Another opportunity identified was sharing of CPD opportunities including enhanced use of subject networks.

Significant comment also about strengthening on-going professional learning with opportunities for cultural change, rasing the level of professionalism, greater accessibility and meeting the  expectations of a wider group of learners.

Not surprising, in terms of what to retain moving forward, entitlement was mentioned.

John McCann

Lifelong Teaching

6. Lifelong Teaching

 IDEA 5:  Career-long teacher education which is currently too fragmented and often haphazard should be at the heart of this process with implications for its philosophy, quality, coherence, efficiency and impact.

 Colleges regard CPD as a cornerstone of their ability to respond flexibly and positively to the changing needs of learners, employers, society and government.  They are recognised in a range of publications as having strengths in effective staff review and in arrangements for CPD. (Learning Together improving teaching, improving learning, HMIE (2009); Improving Scottish Education 2005-2008, HMIE (2009); Review for Scotland’s Colleges: Transforming Lives, Transforming Scotland, Scottish Executive (2007); Review of Scotland’s Colleges: Promoting Excellence, Scottish Government (2007).  Few would argue that the idea would apply in the college sector.

It is from that position of considerable strength that we can move forward.  We need to ensure these arrangements continue to be fit for purpose.

At any one time, a number of staff development needs require to be met.  There will be those derived from changes in institutional processes or statutory requirements.  These are often straightforward to address.  There will be those deriving from the need to maintain vocational and subject-based skills and experience.  These are often seen as the responsibility of the individual and there is much good practice around.  Finally, there will be those deriving from the need to take forward teaching practice.

Research recognises that teaching skills are not static skills and require a continuous development process.  This should be acknowledged as career development as much as preparation for a promoted post.  Seen as a process of career development, there is a responsibility on individuals to be aware of their own skills and talents and how these can be managed and developed to the benefit of learners.  This is best undertaken within an ethos which values professional learning and an environment which supports personal development planning processes.

In terms of an initial teaching qualification, satisfaction with the current arrangements and output of TQ(FE) is variable, individuals have inconsistent experiences and support from their colleges varies. Current arrangements are under review; however we might want to be cautious of our expectations of an initial teaching qualification.  As Donaldson states … initial education cannot provide teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary for a life-time of teaching. The education and professional development of every teacher needs to be seen as a lifelong task, and be structured and resourced accordingly.

The TQ(FE) and associated awards are underpinned by the “Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges”.  These are used as a framework on which the Universities responsible for delivery build and develop their courses.  We can expect successful learners to have met those standards.  We might also expect that studying for the qualification instills a passion for teaching which is sustainable throughout their career.  The experience should be transformational in the sense of build the habits of leadership and of embedding processes of reflection and managing consequent change.

Induction of teachers into colleges sets the scene on a range of issues including understanding college culture and values, standards and expectations.  There is no such thing as a standard induction as each individual has unique needs and requires to lay the foundations for future career development, the promotion and development of excellence in teaching and to develop the professional skills which will impact positively on learners.  At present each College puts into place its own arrangements.  These range from:

  • no access to classrooms for a number of weeks, whilst undertaking the Professional Development Award (PDA), approved by the Professional Learning and Development Forum (PLDF), to
  • immediate access to classrooms with professional development provided adhoc.

Our expectations of induction should be no less than that for the initial teaching award.  As with all formative assessment the need to recognise what is known, what is accepted, and what is required to be learned and facilitated are critical elements of an induction programme that equips new staff to fully commit and take on board collective ownership of the requirements of teaching, not just the administrative requirements of the role.  To be successful this requires to be part of an action planned programme of professional learning that ensures a continuous commitment to development of skills, values and attitudes on both an individual and institutional level.

The college sector is recognised as being good at setting strategic aims and objectives however, there is little evidence that the arrangements, although comprehensive, for strategic development of professional learning is effective.  Staff in colleges generally feel that arrangements to identify their needs work well and they are involved in the opportunities made available to them for their staff development needs; however, there is no overview at a national level that this is coherent and rigorously implemented across the sector.

For professional learning is to be implemented appropriately and effectively, colleges need to plan, fully develop and implement opportunities based on relevant educational theory and practice for all staff and measure its impact on the student outcome for all areas of learning.  Furthermore it should be fully supported by all leaders of learning.  There is a danger that if this becomes a process driven mechanism and staff do not embrace the culture of professional learning for which they need to take personal ownership in investing in their own professional development but will see it as a transactional process through whose hoops they need to jump.

Lifelong Teaching Challenge

6.2 And ….

A sustainable approach to on-going professional development will require individuals to take responsibility for their own learning.  It will also require access to quality professional learning opportunities in college and externally.  Do our current arrangements encourage staff ownership of their learning and how might we improve this critical aspect of professional learning?

With much less funding available, how can we maintain college strengths in CPD?

Curriculum Challenges

5.2 And …

Curriculum for Excellence has always resonated strongly with college approaches to learning and its broad philosophy accepted.  It has been a useful unifying concept reflecting additional value of the learner experience beyond vocationally oriented outcomes.  There are signs that the sector is taking on the deeper implications of CfEx in working with learners to co-create the learning experience.  What are the professional learning implications of embedding further the concepts of CfEx?

Colleges will be expected to make a full contribution to senior phase implementation of Curriculum for Excellence.  It is part of a movement making the resources of the system available to its learners; of thinking beyond institutional boundaries.  There may be a need for a college workforce to have broader perspectives of educational system.  How do we reflect this in professional learning experiences?


5. Curriculum : the essential purpose of learning and teaching

 IDEA 4:  The imperatives that gave rise to Curriculum for Excellence still remain powerful and the future well-being of Scotland is dependent in large measures on its potential being realised.  That has profound and as yet not fully addressed implication for the teaching profession and its leadership.

5.1 A Curriculum Response to the Unknown

Curriculum for Excellence emerged from debate around requirements of an educational system in Scotland to meet the needs of 21st Century learners.  The challenges faced by the system were encapsulated by Karl Fisch in his often quoted presentation ‘Did You Know? – Shift Happens’.

We are currently preparing students for jobs that dont yet exist, using technologies that have not been invented, in order to solve problems we dont even know are problems yet.

More recently, the report of the Higher Order Skills Excellence group articulated the scale of the task.  “Education needs to respond by giving people the skills, ambition and personal qualities to be competitive in an increasingly, globalised economy, to be adaptable throughout life, to operate ethically and knowledgeably in society and to live fulfilled lives in circumstances of continuous ferment.  While it is relatively easy to attach convenient labels to these essential qualities, developing an education system capable of promoting them consistently and successfully is a truly ambitious and necessary undertaking and one which demands a high level of professional capacity for all sectors of delivery.”

Early Curriculum for Excellence papers articulated an explicit statement of the purpose of education to build capacity in young people to become ‘successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors’.  This reflected a radical change in educational thinking around the notion of capacity building and a shift from purpose around centrally set atomized targets.  It was underpinned by a call for a more learner centred culture within Scotland’s school system.

At the same time, Universities have undertaken work to articulate expectations of graduateness and some are in the process of implementing curricular reforms within their institutions based on these expectations.  For example, Aberdeen University define graduate attributes in terms of ‘academically excellent, critical thinkers and excellent communicators, open to learning & professional development and active citizens’.

These two major curricular reforms have described their intentions in terms of capacities and attributes to be developed in their learners.  It is a characteristic of contemporary curriculum development to describe educational outcomes in this way.  Curriculum for Excellence is the more relevant for the college sector.

CfE also set out the principles for curriculum design, which are clearly understood by the college sector and which looked at challenge and enjoyment, breadth, depth, progression, choice, coherence and relevance.  The claim is that The intention is to alter the balance between a process that is heavily dependent on content, and learning and teaching approaches that improve pupils understanding of what is being taught.  This is not a one-off change but the start of a continuous process of review to ensure that the curriculum remains up to date

The senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) can be characterised as that which takes place in the final stages of compulsory education and beyond, normally around age 15 to 18.  Whilst it is believed the majority of pupils will continue to access the principles of CfE through school, larger numbers will benefit from college and other community contributions.  There will be a responsibility of colleges to provide a seamless transition from school into provision that not only takes cognisance of these principles, but integrates and embeds them into its delivery, culture and ethos.  This adds to the complexity previously discussed.

It is that aspect of CfE that most teachers in the college sector relate to most closely.  In order to make the senior phase a reality, providers will have to work in very close partnerships to make the learner experience both rich and coherent.

As well as contributors to the senior phase of CfEx, colleges are also providers of curriculum which can be expected to meet CfEx requirements.  These are set out in a number of learner entitlements defined as

  • a curriculum which is coherent;
  • the opportunity to obtain qualifications as well as to continue to develop the attributes and capabilities of the four capacities;
  • opportunities to continue to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work with a continuous focus on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing;
  • personal support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities that Curriculum for Excellence can provide; and
  • support in moving into positive and sustained destinations beyond school.

That focus on the learner and the learning, familiar to college staff and others, is the significant driver in Scotland’s learning system.  It is reflected in the language (eg ‘learner entitlement’) that we use in promoting change and the measures we use in determining success.  The ‘learner journey’ has been the template behind Scottish Government reform proposals for post-16 education.