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    The Government has recently published a White Paper which outlines opportunities for development within the Further Education sector.

    The documents, entitled "Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances" suggests material used for the personal development of teachers must be up to date and relevant to remain beneficial to those within the sector. The document places strong emphasis on the role of the teacher in post "“ compulsory education and the important position they play in helping learners reach their full potential.

    The Government is due to launch new guidelines on regulating and developing the skills of teaching professionals effectively. Responding to the White Paper, the Institute for Learning (IfL) recognises the importance of the focus on continual professional development (CPD) displayed in the White Paper. The IfL has been examining practical methods of bringing CPD to the Further Education sector effectively.

    Benchmark for Teachers

    The Paper introduces Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. This is the benchmark all teachers will need to meet when it is introduced in September 2007. The IfL has made major progress in developing the business processes behind this standard. The document focuses on the teacher and their position as the main instigator in controlling their professional development. The IfL has researched current levels of development displayed within the field of post compulsory education.

    These findings should prove useful in allowing clear and practical support to be offered to future teachers. The QTLS standard will also be made available to all existing teaching staff through professional recognition routes. Teachers should be placed at the forefront of their own CPD. Part of this will involve taking an active role in identifying development needs and responsibility for effective practice.

    Evidence based methods of monitoring the development of practitioners include maintaining online records, portfolios and a CPD log. This ensures teaching staff take control of their own development and regularly update their correspondence. However, the workloads of teachers must be taken into account to ensure the QTLS standard is a worthwhile and highly regarded benchmark.

    Practitioner the Key

    Responding to the White Paper, Lee Davies, the Development Manger for the IfL stated: "We look forward to working with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), colleges and other employers and colleagues from across the sector in developing a new professionalism for teachers, trainers and tutors. In keeping with all professional bodies, the Institute believes that the practitioner is the central stakeholder in the process of professional development, in the same way as teachers respect the centrality of the learner."

    The IfL has also examined the benefits of work-based learning together with adult and community learning programmes. These areas are seen as a major part of today's education sector as a whole and must also be developed as valuable teaching approaches. Definitions of relevant CPD activity should be developed and offered as a model of good practice. This can be developed further after the introduction of the QTLS for all teachers.

    Mark Feakes

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