By Harriet Harper
As part of the T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) provides the organisations confirmed to deliver T Levels with a Professional Development Adviser (PDA).
I lead the team of 19 PDAs. It’s a really experienced team, including former college principals, senior managers and inspectors, as well as experts in teacher education, English and maths. They bring with them a wealth of expertise in both technical and academic education.
Our role is to work with those providers offering T Levels in 2020 and 2021 to identify their professional development needs. Each provider has an allocated PDA who visits termly. We’ve already had three visits to 2020 providers, and we’ll be meeting most 2021 providers for the first time in the autumn.
At these visits, the key focus of the discussions with senior leaders and middle managers is on operational management in regard to workforce development and CPD, though they sometimes, perhaps naturally, additionally touch upon strategic approaches to T Levels. When we meet with teachers, we talk with them about curriculum planning, teaching, learning and assessment, and what they perceive to be their professional development needs.
What are the benefits?
Firstly, we get to know the provider and we direct them to relevant support. We encourage providers to undertake the TLPD organisational self-assessment that identifies strengths and any gaps in knowledge or skills. There’s also a self-assessment tool for teachers, again focusing specifically on T Levels.
Secondly, while individual visits are confidential, what we glean overall from working with all the different providers is fed back to the ETF and this, in turn, informs and shapes the TLPD offer.
The importance of professional development for those offering T Levels
There is little doubt that the introduction of T Levels is providing challenges, particularly around ensuring teachers are up to speed, curriculum planning and tackling timetabling issues. Based on our experience so far in working with the 2020 providers, PDAs can offer advice on how to address any problems you encounter by using the professional development resources available.
Managers, teams and individuals can choose what to access of the TLPD offer, including many online materials. In particular, providers value learning from each other and the TLPD offer is therefore really helpful and timely. Where providers get together through face-to-face CPD, TRIPs (Teacher Regional Improvement Projects) and the networks, they can draw on existing good practice and be proactive about trying to resolve potential problems.
As PDAs we may not have all the answers, but we’re here to help providers access the support they need to ensure high-quality T Level delivery from the outset.