This month we are launching our new membership service, the Society for Education and Training.
We have been gearing up to launch the new membership service in several ways – mostly centred on asking members what they want: what do you expect for your money? What should the service provide? How can it help you to find and undertake the professional development you need? We have had discussions with wider groups too – potential future members and key stakeholders across the education and training system.
There was an overwhelming response to our consultation, especially from existing members who whenever we have asked for any kind of feedback have jumped at the chance to tell us what they think.
Our consultation started in December last year, initially as an online survey, with almost 3000 responses. We have built on this with a number of events and focus groups, sector-wide practitioner groups, and stakeholder interviews.
Key feedback from our consultation
We found a consistent response about the benefits people want from their membership service: a way to enhance their professional status; to be part of a community; to have access to professional development opportunities; and to have their professionalism recognised through QTLS – especially given its equivalence to QTS status in schools.
Communities of best practice emerged as a popular concept – as a place for sharing expertise on a specialist area or topic with other professionals. Respondents were keen on either local networks or online virtual groups, and both will be an important part of our new offer.
Unsurprisingly, Continuing Professional Development is also a very popular benefit. CPD can be provided in many different forms. We will provide webinars on key topic areas; our website will be regularly updated with new articles and content; and our journal InTuition will include more examples of effective practice that can be applied in practice. The Education and Training Foundation runs many professional development courses which members will be able to access; and we aim to signpost other high quality CPD courses available from other providers. But a membership service should provide more than free CPD. To be meaningful the service needs to help people to access relevant training based on where they are in their profession, and then apply and reflect on the learning they undertake.
Some people say that for teaching and training in our sector to be truly professional, membership and CPD should be a mandatory requirement and regulated; they liken it to professions such as HR and accountancy. However, membership of the Society is voluntary – we want the service and the benefits it provides to bring members clear value to their practice, so that being a member speaks for itself in terms of a commitment to professionalism, to ongoing development, and to the sector. And we support and expect members to be undertaking – and benefitting from – high-quality CPD as part of their commitment to the Society.
Research for the sector by the sector
The Society for Education and Training was the name for our professional membership which emerged from our consultation process. We are excited by how the word “society” conveys a sense of community and belonging, but also emphasises the importance of research and creating new knowledge through our membership.
We want to make research more available and accessible to our members, as well as giving them the opportunity to contribute to new learning. This was a popular request during the consultation process, and we are keen to connect our membership with the important work that the Foundation already achieves through its research activity, such as its successful practitioner research programme, and also to use InTuition as a forum for publishing new research.
We have refreshed and updated the membership website to reflect our new name, and include some of the first new features we are introducing to our service, such as piloting online communities and a new series of webinars. We have also made the website easier to use and navigate, so that increasingly this can become the central hub for members for all things related to the Society.
We have published the full results of our consultation on the website, and have laid out our plans for the new service in greater detail. New benefits will follow during the coming months, and meanwhile we will continue to talk to members to find out what they want to see in the future development of the Society.
Tim Weiss is director of strategy, quality and research at the Education and Training Foundation
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