Teaching an all Master s profession: Implications of the new TDA s CPD MTL National Framework for schools

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1 Teaching an all Master s profession: Implications of the new TDA s CPD MTL National Framework for schools Overview of the New National Framework for the Masters in Teaching & Learning (MTL) The new Masters in Teaching and learning (MTL) is a governmental attempt to push teaching as a more respected and high level profession. It is initially aimed at targeting teachers in the first five years of their careers but will eventually be open to all teachers. In a Times Educational Supplement report on MTL development on 13 th March it was reported that a TDA spokesman said: Part of the Government s strategy for school improvement is to prioritise the development of teachers who are working in the most challenging schools. MTL will deliver effective, structured professional development in the early stages of a teacher s career, focused on improving standards, and should help in the recruitment and retention of staff to these schools. This intention linked to the fact that MTL providers have to also be high quality Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers with Ofsted grades A or B, which implies that ITT and MTL will combine to form an extended model of initial teacher education (ITE). This ITT MTL requirement also excludes all current CPD and PPD in service providers that don t currently offer such ITT programmes and this policy clearly represents a loss of expertise and capacity for the newly formed regional MTL provider partnerships. The National Framework core vision of MTL is that teachers will be supported on the job in schools to participate in practice oriented accredited continuous professional development (CPD). The specified content, design, delivery and assessment of MTL have the intention of developing a lifelong learning mindset for teachers through collaborative professional learning support. The hope is that this will feed into improving the educational and life outcomes for all children and young people and thereby indirectly support the goals of the DCSF (2003 & 2004) Every Child Matters agenda and more recent Children s Plan (DCSF, 2007). That in school support system will also see the training of a small army of MTL coaches drawn from more experienced teachers to support new entrants to the profession. It is intended that MTL coaches will work with colleague teachers to link the TDA teaching standards with M level thinking tasks through appropriate on the job activities that can be accredited by partner higher education institutions (HEI). Further support will then be given from HEI visiting tutors drawn from local and other experts that are members of the local government office MTL regional partnership funded by the TDA. The TDA & DCSF Agenda for MTL Implementation The initial agenda is to target MTL resources and pilot schemes to all newly qualified teachers (NQTs) working in National Challenge (NC) schools and schools facing challenging circumstances; with follow on roll out to all other NQTs and then more widely to operate as a form of early professional development for teachers in their first 5 years. The timetable sees the first MTL scheme being launched in the NW regional partnership for NC schools this September 2009, to be followed by other regions in January The MTL scheme is DCSF policy and originates from the Children s Plan (DCSF, 2007), which can be 1

2 downloaded from the DSCSF website of publications see references. However, the Training and Development Agency (TDA) for schools has been given the lead management and funding role and first published the MTL National Framework (TDA, 2009) at the end of February 2009 and more recently an update for providers in September regarding the details for the training of MTL Coaches. Role of Schools within the MTL partnerships Foremost is the role of schools as principal stakeholders in delivering the new MTL. The programme design locates the majority of professional learning activity to be embedded in classroom practice and amongst collaborative activity of colleagues. The heart of this in school support framework will be a tripartite professional learning support system forged between the teacher, their school based MTL coach and the visiting HEI tutor. The TDA (2009a) has published some online case studies of how this process might be envisaged in practice. The National Framework envisages a three phase programme that acts as a continuum from ITT and takes account of a NQTs route into teaching. Cycles of on the job professional learning activity are to be linked into a curriculum covered by four broad areas of content: Content Area 1: Teaching & Learning linked to personalisation and applied learning. Assessment for Learning. Content Area 2: Curriculum development linked to subject knowledge and national strategies. Content Area 3: Behaviour management and development of children and young people. Additional and special needs, i.e. supporting vulnerable learners and inclusion. Content Area 4: Leadership and management, including middle leadership subject/curriculum areas. Working with the wider school workforce and support agencies within and outside the school. Phase 1 of the MTL sees teachers building upon previous professional learning with NQTs engaged in activity aligned to induction and the four content areas. Much activity will relate to developing critical reflection upon practice and enquiry skills that will no doubt link to diverse forms of practitioner research. Phase 2 builds upon phase 1 activity with teachers further embedding their professional learning skills into practice. Phase 3 intends to give teachers the opportunity to further develop and deepen their subject or field specialism s and form links with specialist professional support networks, e.g. subject associations. Completing the MTL will then provide teachers with a platform for future advanced CPD linked to either specialist professional qualifications or doctorates in their later career. However, the heart of the MTL delivery system depends upon the effectiveness of the in school MTL coach that acts as the main in situ professional learning lynch pin between the teacher and the accrediting HEI. The key emerging issues for developing the role of the MTL school based coach includes the need to have some coaches operating across schools in order to support teachers working in small institutions such as village primary schools. Another vital issue is the fact that in the latest TDA MTL National Framework guidance to prospective MTL Providers they have excluded any reference in the published person specification to master s level competency for the in school coach. However, recent TDA documentation to MTL providers suggests that they will now support MTL coach training that enables M level thinking, with implied potential M Level accreditation of coach training. In reality, 2

3 however, the overall approach adopted implies that the MTL school based Coach has no specific responsibility for accredited assessment, which excludes the possibility of regular on the job support for professional learning tasks that embed formative assessment. It also leaves the assessment responsibility totally to the proposed visiting HEI tutors that could easily slip into simplistic delivery solutions dependent upon summative assessment evidence, i.e. bolt on rather than built in assessment tasks. Clearly, it would be far better if the MTL coach could be included as a full assessment partner with the visiting HEI tutor and therefore become a school based HEI affiliate similar to many CPD staff development groups working at the innovative end of currently funded PPD school based projects. Their expanded support role could then be more formally linked to a specialist Masters Qualification linked to leadership, mentoring and coaching and could be partly paid for through current PPD funding or a new TDA funding stream costed for delivering this specialist work. Role of MTL HEIs in operating partnerships across Government Office Regions of England HEIs across England are expected to work in collaborative partnerships based within the government office regions. So far this has led to four successful bids from the NE, E Midlands and SW to run pilot schemes from January 2010 and with the NW leading the way from this September; other regions across England will soon be joining this scheme. The TDA vision is that MTL Providers are made up of equal partnerships between regional schools and their local HEIs. However, HEIs are expected to work closely together with a lead HEI that will coordinate the funding and management of the programme. Key schools need to be also involved in this provider management process if the scheme is to take a proper hold in schools and gain their ownership. The TDA has therefore challenged MTL providers with the task of ensuring that all partners work in a collaborative way and are included in delivering the scheme. At the same time providers are expected to be outward looking and engage with Local Authorities and wider national expertise. It is clear that due to the size and scale of HEIs and the resources they command that they will have a lead role to play in coordinating the various regional and strategic management steering groups. HEIs also have the potential research capacity and expertise to be able to develop the MTL scheme impact indicators for monitoring its success, but this will need to be properly funded in a transparent way. The most powerful contribution that HEIs can make to ensure the success of the MTL programme is to transfer their knowledge and experience of running existing ITT and PPD partnerships with schools. Much of the work based master level accreditation already done in schools through innovative PPD provision will be useful knowledge in helping to both validate and deliver the early MTL curriculum that is intended to be very different to the more academic educational masters degrees. Learning Technologies to support MTL fieldwork Another important aspect of the new MTL is the work based nature of its delivery with the explicit assumption and expectation that HEIs will lead development of new bespoke learning and communications technology. This will help to support the personalised learning requirements of teachers engaged in on the job and individual practitioner research projects. An extension of the TDA Teacher Learning Resource Bank (TLRB) to support MTL school based curriculum development would also be useful, however, there also needs to be an appropriate set of online critical thinking tools in 3

4 order to both scaffold and record Masters level thinking. Such online reflective learning support systems could be utilised by both the school based coach and teacher and would also serve as consistent and suitable evidence for both MTL accreditation and impact. Developing bespoke MTL learning and assessment technology solutions that are also genuinely fit for purpose is the major quality assurance and enhancement (QAE) challenge that HEIs collectively face! Working with National agencies such as Becta (http://www.becta.org.uk/) and Naace (http://www.naace.org/), the ICT subject association, may prove useful in developing such solutions. Specific MTL questions In drawing this article to a close I would like to share with colleagues what I think is the outstanding set of strategic questions for all those involved in developing MTL to consider and solve: 1. Is MTL really a sophisticated form of an early professional development masters degree, whereby ITT + MTL = ITE? 2. With the latest proposals to reduce ITT QTS to a 6 month delivery programme are we seeing the emergence of a new MTL with QTS as the default model for the future of ITE? 3. How do HEIs envisage redefining the roles and workloads of existing ITT tutors in supporting MTL in schools? 4. Will MTL be subject to Ofsted or some other form of HEI Quality Assurance and Enhancement (QAE) self evaluation? 5. What are the ideal qualifications that the MTL Coach would need to have and would they need to be involved with on the job in school M Level formative assessment? If not, how would they support MTL content and assignments and how would they fit into HEI QAE systems if they were not qualified and/or practicing at M Level themselves? Perhaps a bespoke specialist Masters degree in Leadership, Mentoring and Coaching linked to their training would be the best long term solution? 6. What would be the relationship of MTL with existing PPD work in schools? How could we avoid overlap and competition for enrolments? 7. What about teachers working in further education colleges with the same age group on Diplomas? Should there not be a similar CPD MTL route offered to them to maintain cohesion and parity with schools? Could the MTL teaching quality platform be extended to FE in the same way Ofsted has been? 8. Will MTL be able to offer specialist awards or suitable progression opportunities linked to the range of careers both within and around the educational profession? This approach is envisaged through the joined up thinking of the DCSF children s workforce qualifications policy. Or will it be that MTL is only intended as an early professional development generic Masters degree? 9. Would other specialist awards continue to be funded by alternative funding streams such as the extant PPD? What about fields such as Dyslexia with BDA links etc and also the currently PPD funded educational doctorates? Perhaps PPD should be offered for CPD specialist progression opportunities to maintain the lifelong learning commitment of a long term career in teaching? These are all important questions that need to be resolved regarding how the MTL should be further developed. Should you have further questions or suggested answers to the above issues raised then please the author at: All contributions will be fully acknowledged. 4

5 References DCSF (2007) The Children s Plan, Online: (accessed 18 August 2008). DfES (2003) Green Paper: Every Child Matters, (Norwich, The Stationery Office). DfES (2004) Every Child Matters: Change for Children in Schools (Nottingham, DfES Publications) Online (accessed 18 August 2008). TDA (2009) The National Framework for Masters in Teaching and Learning, TDA publication online: (accessed 7 October 2009). TDA (2009a) Case Studies Masters in Teaching and Learning, TDA online: (accessed 7 October 2009). 5

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