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7 March 2012
Further education leaders and practitioners gathered at the Institute of Education (IoE) in London on Wednesday 29 February 2012 to discuss leadership of learning at a seminar hosted jointly by the Institute for Learning (IfL), the 157 Group and the IoE. The aim of the Leading learning seminar was to examine the leadership and creation of “expansive learning environments” to maximise professional learning and excellence in the FE sector.
Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of IfL, said, “IfL’s latest review of continuing professional development (CPD) across the sector found that professional development that is integrated into weekly working lives, and with teachers and trainers driving their own professional development and often in collaboration with other teachers, gives rise to the most meaningful impact and real developments in teaching practice.
"In short, organisations need to create a more expansive learning environment, not a top-down, prescriptive and restrictive one. Roger Minett’s account of how Birmingham Metropolitan College is establishing professional development centres on each campus, as well as their whole half-day a week dedicated to localised professional development, is impressive. Rich discussions at the seminar generated a commitment to the importance of space and time being protected, so that teachers and other staff can lead reflection on and share their professional practice.
“IfL works to ensure support for teachers’ and trainers’ professional development, and we were encouraged by Professor Lorna Unwin’s focus on the central importance of leading learning in workplaces.”
Lynne Sedgmore CBE, executive director of the 157 Group, said, “Those who write about professional learning suggest that very often the type of CPD on offer lags well behind the research on learning in the workplace and is seen as a chore rather than an intrinsic part of professional life. The seminar provided a valuable forum for what turned out to be a very intellectual and practical discussion about models of lifelong learning and CPD across the sector.
“Leading learning in further education, the policy paper that we published last year in collaboration with IfL and the CfBT Education Trust, highlighted the need for leadership of learning and the importance of creating a supportive and enabling culture in the organisation. We support IfL’s view of professional development as a key driver of high-quality teaching and learning, and look forward to contributing to the work of the newly established commission on adult education and vocational pedagogy, which is being supported by IfL and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).”
Professor Ann Hodgson, assistant director at the IoE and an IfL patron, said, “Fostering a professional learning culture within their learning establishments is very much an issue of the moment for senior leaders and managers in the further education and skills sector."
"There is a real opportunity for IfL and its members, the 157 Group, the IoE and partners across the FE system to explore these issues, gather evidence and draw attention to examples of good practice, for the benefit of learners, practitioners and the sector. Professionalising the FE and skills workforce is about being qualified, fully versed in the bodies of knowledge needed as an educator and with the skills needed to be an excellent teacher or trainer."