Posted by: Bill Lord | October 13, 2009

‘Vital’ CPD for teachers?

Vital CPD delivered a keynote at Naace AMAC last week on the launch of their CPD offer for teachers. This joint venture between Open University and e-skills UK has developed a £5.6 million scheme to help teachers to bring technology even more effectively into the classroom with the launch in January 2010.
Gareth Davies has written about it in his blog ‘Never mind the technology, where’s the learning?’ including a blog this month having seen their presentation to Naace. He stated that Vital will be  ‘offering a range of blended learning opportunities with different mixtures and at appropriate venues, such as schools, ICT Centres.’

I remember speaking at the Worcestershire LA Primary ICT conference several years ago and asking the packed room how many people felt that they would pass the QTS test for Literacy in order to qualify as a teacher training student. Across the room there was a sea of hands, likewise for the same question about mathematics and then came the question about ICT! There was much laughter in the room as half of the hands dropped in the room.
Not long after this event I went back into teaching working in a school where ICT is at the heart of the curriculum. The school invested in a full time technician and sought to embed ICT in everyday practice. It is obvious that there was a wide range of experience, confidence and competence in the staff but staff were prepared to use ICT. This operated at the lowest level because it was an  expectation whilst most staff could actually see the impact on learning,  standards and motivation.
However, I have worked and come across other schools where there is an accepted lack of willingness to use ICT within everyday practice. Children continue to go through a rollercoaster of learning in ICT as they progress through their Primary years and what they experience is sometimes down to the coin toss of which teachers they have.

How many times do we hear colleagues justify their lack of use of ICT with an ill fated observed lesson four years earlier when the projector didn’t work?
Would this be as acceptable if we substituted open questions or calculation skills for ICT?
This is about leadership of schools setting expectations of ICT use in their schools and teachers are equipped to meet them. Where there is a rollercoaster of opportunity in a school there would be  potential for collaborative classroom based CPD or even lesson study where teachers work together on a common element of pedagogy using ICT, however the potential needs to be translated into action.
I am struck by Stephen Heppell‘s comments about Peter Pan schools when I think about schools who continue to abdicate responsibility for using technology to make a difference.

So will Vital work? Whilst Gareth Davies argues that Vital may have their work cut out because ‘of the competition, free or otherwise that this market presents at the end of the 1st decade of the 21st century.’
I would agree with his point but also add that all of this isn’t worth a hill of beans unless there are  more leadership teams who consider the bottom line and share this with their staff.


  1. Bill, I think it’s even more complicated than that. Sure, leadership is an absolute crucial element, but affecting the motivation of leaders in schools is relatively simple by changing the parameters by which schools are judged, and therefore the way in which they as leaders succeed or fail. There is of course a lot to do here, but, we do know the handles to turn. The professionalism of the teacher workforce and its relationship to ongoing continuing professional development is extremely unclear. We have not created real hard and fast levers that motivate lifelong learning in the workforce. There are some, but they have been around for a long time and only affect a limited percentage. This is the real challenge for the vital team. They still have to work with this limited and flawed set of tools to motivate involvement.

    • Really the holy grail is building an education system in which the drivers for CPD are not fear of the next monitoring framework or criteria for observation. Leaders need to be motivated because they think that it will make a real difference to the kids in their schools.
      There are times when I do struggle with the fact that some people still don’t get it and can almost deny the use of ICT!!

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