01 SES 01 B, Models and Theories in Teacher Professional Development: Professional learning and development in different national contexts in Europe Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 01 SES 02 B
Following a series of relatively poor PISA results and a critical review by OECD (2014), the Welsh Government has embarked on a series of policy changes to transform education in Wales. Underpinning these is what the Welsh Government sees as a transformational approach to professional learning which will be met by ensuring that the teaching profession will be “driven by a deep understanding of pedagogy … [be] research-engaged” with “leaders who will ensure that every teacher can improve through effective .... professional learning”. The policy rhetoric is effective and draws on language which reflects current international best practice in implementing professional change. The challenge will be for the Welsh Government to ensure that policy impacts on practice and to avoid the implementation gap that has been apparent in policy development in previous years (Jones, 2011). The models chosen for the reconfiguration of professional learning in Wales are now being made explicit. A change in terminology from ‘professional development’ to ‘professional learning’ was an early visible sign of intent (Jones 2015). Other approaches becoming transparent are mechanisms for intra and inter-school collaboration, the stimulation of practitioner research and the establishment of Professional Learning Communities. Taking the categorisation of professional learning models by Boylan et al (2018) as a basis for analysis, the policy approach to professional learning in Wales presents a mixed approach to a complex professional scenario. Guskey’s (2002) linear path model and Desimone’s (2009) interactive causal chain are apparent in the need for teacher professional learning in Wales to impact on student outcomes (notably those measured by PISA). Clarke and Hollingsworth’s (2002) interconnected multiple pathways model is also evident, though the contextual elements of this model and the policies that seek to influence these are less tangible. Opfer and Pedder’s (2011) complexity model becomes relevant in the context of schools as self-improving systems, but arguably the most difficult element for leaders and policy makers to influence is the culture of professional learning in individual schools. Evans’ (2014) cognitive learning model recognises the importance of the professional as an individual, and the development of a national Professional Learning Passport (EWC, 2017) which encourages and values reflection is part of this approach. This paper will consider the approaches to professional learning policy in Wales and will provide the basis for comparative studies of professional learning policy elsewhere in Europe.
Boylan, M., Coldwell, M., Maxwell, B. and Jordan, J. (2018) Rethinking models of professional learning as tools: a conceptual analysis to inform research and practice Professional Development in Education Vol. 44, No. 1, 120-139 Jones, K. (2011) Central, local and individual continuing professional development (CPD) priorities: changing policies of CPD in Wales Professional Development in Education Vol. 37, No. 5, 759–776 Jones, K. (2015) ‘Professional Development’ or ‘Professional Learning’ ... and does it matter? https://www.ewc.wales/site/index.php/en/about/staff-room/son-archive/43-english/about/blog-archive/93-ken-jones-professional-development-or-professional-learning-and-does-it-matter OECD (2014) Improving Schools in Wales: An OECD Perspective www.oecd.org/edu/Improving-schools-in-Wales.pdf Welsh Government (2017) Education in Wales: Our national mission. Action plan 2017–21 Cardiff: Welsh Government
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