8 January 2016
Article by Joe Champion, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
Following on from yesterday’s blog on how to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) we now look at what support is available to teachers in Wales to help them develop and maintain the highest pedagogical standards. As with entry into the profession, this is also undergoing significant change.
The First Few Years for Teachers in Wales
After gaining their QTS, Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) in Wales are required to register with the Educational Workforce Council (EWC). NQTs have to undergo a period of Induction, which lasts for a period of three school terms or a period of time equivalent to 380 school sessions (one session is equivalent to a morning or afternoon of teaching). During Induction the NQT receives:
- a programme of professional development, monitoring and support based around the core priorities in the areas that are considered key to improving standards of teaching and for improving learner outcomes;
- the support of a mentor throughout the induction;
- a 10% reduction in their working timetable (as set out in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document);
- Assessment against the Practising Teacher Standards (PTS).
Failure to pass the induction stage effectively means that the candidate cannot become a teacher in Wales or England, though there is an appeals process.
After successfully completing the Induction phase candidates are able to seek employment at maintained schools in Wales and expected to continue to develop and maintain their teaching skills and knowledge (see below).
In 2012 the Welsh Government fully funded the Masters in Educational Practice (MEP), for three intakes at the outset, as a Masters level qualification for NQT’. The first cohort started in January 2013 (graduating July 2016). The aim of the MEP is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills required to mitigate the effects of socio-economic deprivation on educational achievement, improve learner outcomes and support a model of lifelong improvement of professional practice.
More than half of NQTs in Wales are thought to have undergone the MEP, with the last intake in January 2015 (graduating in July 2018). The course is no longer open to new enrolments, but future Masters level training (such as a Masters in Continuing Educational Practice and a Masters in Education Leadership) for teachers are being planned by the Welsh Government.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
All educators in Wales are expected to undergo ongoing continual professional development (CPD) training, to ensure that their skills and knowledge are as up to date as possible. However it is not mandatory for teachers to take up opportunities for CPD, as was raised in a plenary debate on 09 December 2015. CPD training is delivered by a range of private, public and charitable organisation on a plethora of topics.
But there has been some issues with the quality, consistency and availability of CPD for teachers in Wales. In response to this the Welsh Government has created online resources for teachers, encouraged the creation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and has committed to delivering a ‘New Deal’ for the education workforce in Wales.
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are groups of practitioners working together using a structured process of enquiry to focus on a specific area of their teaching to improve outcomes and to raise school standards. The Welsh Government believes evidence indicates that, through collaboration with peers and other stakeholders, performance can be raised as participants share experiences and insights that can enhance each other’s understandings.
There are several online resources which have been funded by the Welsh Government with the aim of supporting teachers in Wales.
The Learning Wales website is aimed at all educators in Wales and provides:
- access to the latest teaching news and updates;
- teaching approaches and academic research;
- career and continuous professional development;
- best practice case studies;
- links to Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); and
- policy and statutory guidance.
The Hwb website is aimed at teachers and learners in the ages 3 – 19 sector, and provides:
- access to online classroom-based resources, games, activities and more learning aids;
- digital good practice and support networks
- tools to help teachers establish, create and share their own resources and ideas
The recently launched online Professional Learning Passport, available online to all Education Workforce Council members, is optional and designed to:
- reduce duplication by helping teachers record their professional learning in one place;
- evidence teacher’s progress towards the professional standards;
- facilitate better performance management reviews;
- be used in seeking Masters or other academic accreditation;
- to identify individual’s future needs and career pathways;
- help teachers when they apply for a new post;
- not to add to practitioner workload.
The New Deal for the Education Workforce
The Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis, has committed to creating a New Deal for educators in Wales that offers them ‘a structured entitlement to access world class professional learning opportunities to develop their practice’. To facilitate this, all schools must now have a staff development plan as part of their school development plan, to ensure that access to training is an integral part of school life for teachers.
The current professional standards for teachers in Wales are being revised so that they form a coherent framework for the education workforce and inform and inspire professional practice. The Welsh Government is also considering an enhanced role for the Education Workforce Council, in order to allow teachers to have a greater impact over the way their profession develops and sets its standards in the future.