Researching professional development leaders: investigating support for ‘remote’ professional development leaders

PERRY, Emily, HALLIDAY, Joelle, BOOTH, Josephine, WOLSTENHOLME, Claire and BOYLAN, Mark (2022). Researching professional development leaders: investigating support for ‘remote’ professional development leaders. Project Report. Ogden Trust.

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Professional development leaders are those who design, deliver and coordinate professional development for teachers. In comparison to processes of teacher professional learning and the content and delivery of professional development, professional development leaders are under-researched (van Driel et al. 2012, Kennedy 2016, Perry & Boylan 2018). Therefore, we lack understanding of how they can be effectively supported in their roles and their professional learning needs, and their skills and expertise are often under-valued (Perry & Bevins 2019, Perry 2020). Numerous organisations in England engage professional development leaders to support the delivery of teacher professional development programmes. These professional development leaders often operate remotely, both in relation to their geographic locations and their terms of employment with their ‘host’ organisation, and, in some ways, in their levels of autonomy and independence. Professional development leaders often lack formalised opportunities for support and development (Perry 2020), and this may be particularly acute for those operating in these remote roles. The Ogden Trust (Ogden Trust 2021) and the Primary Science Quality Mark (University of Hertfordshire 2021) both engage ‘remote’ professional development leaders to coordinate, support and, in some cases, facilitate, professional development for teachers and schools. In 2021, Sheffield Hallam University was commissioned by the Ogden Trust to carry out a small-scale study into the professional development leaders who work with and for the two organisations. The aim of the study is to better understand the ways in which these professional development leaders, and others who operate in similar roles for other organisations, can be supported, thereby contributing to our collective understanding of effective practice in supporting practitioners operating in the role of professional development leaders, such as how they learn and develop their roles. In this report, we describe the approach taken to the study. We explain our findings, including consideration of how professional development leaders are recruited, their professional learning needs and the support offered by the organisations they work for. We found that professional development leaders feel that their professional learning needs are largely met, through a combination of support offered by their ‘host’ organisations and activity within their wider professional networks and identify three groupings of professional learning outcomes: operational knowledge, knowledge of science education and contribution to a shared community enterprise. We end by offering some recommendations for the organisations involved, for other organisations who use ‘remote’ professional development leaders and for further research. These include: • analysis of the diversity of professional development leaders across the system and consideration of how this might be increased through more open recruitment processes; • sharing practice across the sector in relation to induction, ongoing support and quality assurance of professional development leaders, including the use of frameworks of expertise and regular review meetings; • maintenance and further development, across the sector, of models to identify and meet professional development leaders’ learning needs, which take into consideration their varying backgrounds, other professional roles and the relative impact of different activities and delivery models (such as online or face-to-face); • analysis of how professional development leaders’ subject knowledge is developed, including identification of opportunities for collaboration between organisations; • further research into professional development leaders’ perceptions of contributing to a shared community enterprise, such as through analysis of professional networks, informal learning and comparison with other subject areas and phases; • consideration of how to raise the profile of and celebrate professional development leaders’ expertise and contributions to the system.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2022 09:41
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2022 14:47

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