Murray, Frances Marion MacFarlane
Lessons from language: tensions and dichotomies in the policy and practice of CPD in Scotland, 2001-2011.
Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) was situated as both a right and an obligation at the heart of Scottish education by the McCrone Report of 2000, and the ensuing agreement, A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century (2001). CPD was, and continues to be, construed as having the potential to transform teaching and improve learning. Further, CPD was promoted by the Report as having a key role in the re-professionalisation of the teaching profession.
In the decade since the Teachers’ Agreement, however, levels of engagement with CPD initiatives, the review and repositioning of particular schemes, and the perceived impact on learning and teaching point to a tension between the discourse of CPD and the reality of its implementation.
The publication of the McCormac Report in September 2011 signalled anticipated changes to teachers’ conditions of employment, which will inevitably include changes to CPD. This publication provides an opportunity to reflect on whether the Teachers’ Agreement has delivered the intended benefits for both teachers and pupils in terms of CPD, and to examine the impact of language or discourse in shaping attitudes to, uptake of, and engagement with CPD.
This thesis looks at the language and implementation of the Teachers’ Agreement and related policies within the wider educational landscape in order to explore the tensions between discourse and actuality, to suggest reasons for such tensions, and to suggest transformed practice in terms of the discourse of CPD.
In terms of methodology, critical discourse analysis is used to examine the language of CPD closely; policy analysis to describe and analyse the implementation of particular initiatives; narrative analysis to contextualise developments in CPD; and insider reflection to bring a personal perspective to bear on particular aspects of CPD. This combination of methodologies has been chosen in order to allow an in-depth study of nuances of language in policy discourse, changes in policy implementation, and location of such policy in the broader educational agenda.
The study contends that CPD is not generally viewed as an uncontested good; indeed, engagement with various CPD initiatives has been limited for a number of reasons, including an underlying and fundamental tension between the concept of professionalism and a view of CPD which is related to a ‘standards’ framework.
In contending that discourse is fundamental to the interpretation of and engagement with policy, the thesis points up the necessity to pay due regard to the nuances of language employed in denoting policy, and to addressing underlying tensions in the concept of CPD. Policy makers need to be acutely aware of the central role which language plays in the shaping and interpretation of policy and to learn from the experience of the last decade.
CPD continues to be described by many influential figures and bodies as fundamental to the future development of Scottish education. At the same time, however, the educational agenda is dominated by the introduction of a new curriculum (Curriculum for Excellence or CfE), and CPD budgets are threatened by financial and economic imperatives, driven by the continued constraints on local and national government spending. It is vital that the discourse of the McCormac Report, and subsequent policy, is carefully constructed to avoid cynical and negative interpretations, such as suggestions that fewer ‘set piece’ CPD events are as a result of cost-cutting. I contend that lessons must be learned from the experiences of the last decade in the discourse and implementation of the policy related to CPD in order to ensure the intended impact on learners.
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