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The Government is constantly striving for continuous improvement in how public money is spent on delivering services, looking for the most efficient and effective way possible. As a result of the public service reforms of the 1980's and 1990's parental choice, national testing, school league tables and target setting were introduced into education. Management responsibilities and budgets previously controlled by local authorities were given to schools and more comprehensive and prescribed processes of accountability were established (Croxford and Cowie, 2005).
The Consultation Document "Targeting Excellence - Modernising Scotland's Schools" (Scottish Office, 1999) recognised the need for change within the teaching profession, a need to revitalise its image in society.
This Document set the scene for the modernisation of the teaching profession. It recognised the need to strengthen teacher professionalism through the introduction of Professional Standards, Continuing Professional Development and the Chartered Teacher status through its proposal "to keep excellent teachers in the classroom" (Scottish Office, 1999: 69). All of which were to be more fully realised by the recommendations of the McCrone Report (Scottish Executive, 2000).
Is teaching a profession?
In both the Consultation Document (Scottish Office, 1999) and the McCrone Report (Scottish Executive, 2000) there is no definition of what is a 'profession', yet it is taken for granted, teaching is a profession.
Winch (2004: 180) claims that teaching is not a profession. He acknowledges Etzioni (1969, in Winch, 2004: 186) when he puts forward the proposal that professionalism is based on degrees, of "knowledge, skill and ethical commitment" and occupations could be placed at various points along "a continuum of professionalism". Winch did not see teaching as being at the higher end of the continuum.
If Etzioni's continuum analogy were to be considered, it would seem reasonable to assume that if a profession does not continually strive to improve it will slide down to the lower end of the professional continuum.
However, it is widely believed that the perception of professionalism is constantly changing and peoples' opinion of a particular profession is reflected in the changes within that profession and society (Bottery, 1998 cited in Sachs, 2003, Whitty, 2006, Evans, 2008).
Traditionally, a profession is defined as having a, "specialized knowledge base, shared standards of practice, a service ethic, long periods of training, and a high degree of autonomy" (Hargreaves, 2000, quoted in Sachs 2003: 6).
Control or Autonomy?
Reeves (2007: 56) states that historically, in Scotland teacher professionalism could have been described as "bureau professionalism"; controlled by the limits set by the organisation that they worked for. Within this regime, teacher autonomy was set very much within the classroom, and as Hoyle (1974, cited in Reeves, 2007: 56) suggests, teaching was represented by a combination of control and autonomy.
In the 1990's teachers were seen to begin to lose their classroom autonomy when Her Majesty's Inspectorate, (HMI) published "How Good is our school? Self-evaluation using performance indicators" (HGIOS). Teachers were then under the control and scrutiny of their employers through the judgement of school managers', by the process of regular monitoring and evaluation of their work (Reeves, 2007: 56).
Ball (2003) calls the use of evaluative methods in schools, which includes performance indicators, performativity. He states that it is important who controls judgement within any profession. He sees the use of performance indicators as having a negative influence on teachers. Ball uses a case study performed by Troman (2000), in UK primary schools as a demonstration of how teachers feel about their new culture of performativity. Troman found low levels of trust increasing in most of the schools he studied, combined with, "a proliferation of formal 'security-seeking' tactics, with resultant physical and emotional damage to teachers and high levels of 'existential anxiety and dread'" (Troman, 2000, cited in Ball, 2003: 219).
In the time preceding McCrone, the Scottish government strived to improve the education system in Scottish schools. It could be suggested, the way they tried to implement this lead only to the feeling of "de-professionalization" amongst the teaching profession: teacher morale was at a low-ebb (Sachs, 2003: 12). Teachers felt that due to increasing levels of public scrutiny and accountability instigated by greater media interest in HMIe reports and results tables, that they had begun to lose their professional identity, professional trust and in turn their professional autonomy. They felt their public image was low.
Changes in teacher professionalism
The McCrone Report (Scottish Executive, 2000: 5) was careful to carry out the recommendations of the consultation document, "Targeting Excellence" (Scottish Office, 1999) and stated its intention to,
"...put in place a framework which promotes professionalism and which places teachers at the heart of teaching and children at the heart of learning".
It would seem that it was now recognised that social and educational values around the world were changing and Scottish teachers were the central constituent of what would help make the Scottish education system "second to none": these changes, it was hoped would create a increased status for the teaching profession in the eyes of the public (Scottish Executive, 2000).
Sachs suggests 'transformative professionalism' is now developing within teaching and is in agreement with Bottery (1996, cited by Sachs, 2003: 13), when he suggests that expertise, altruism, and autonomy provide the essential foundations for enhancing the teaching profession as a whole.
Within its proposals for the modernising of the teaching profession, the McCrone Agreement (Scottish Executive, 2001) provided a new simplified career and salary structure, changed terms and conditions and a greater importance on professional development and pay increases.
Both the Consultation Paper "Targeting Excellence" (Scottish Office, 1999) and the McCrone committee recognised that there was a need to uphold a certain standard of professionalism within Scottish teaching. The General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) was influential in producing and publishing a set of compulsory Standards required for Initial and Full registration, and a national Continuous Professional Development (CPD) framework which gave the option of Chartered Teacher status. With this, they sought to support and develop the recommendations made by the aforementioned publications. To aid in the upholding of a high standard of professional ethics and judgement, the GTCS also updated the Professional Code of Conduct which was first published in 1998 to "raise awareness and understanding of the issues and situations with can potentially arise" (GTCS, 2007: 2).
The impact of Continuing Professional Development
Through the introduction of Professional Development and Review by the McCrone Agreement (Scottish Executive, 2001) it was hope to give teachers more autonomy in their own professional advancement through CPD. Its aim was to give teachers the opportunity, with the support of their school managers, to build up excellence throughout their career through self-evaluation and reflection which not only benefited them and their teaching, but had an impact on the whole school community (Scottish Executive, 2004). However, Purdon (2003: 424) disputes this stating that a national framework for CPD only allows for greater government control of the teaching profession.
The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is also encouraging teachers to use their own professional judgement. Dozier (2006) comments that teachers were now being encouraged to use their professional judgement to critically reflect on their teaching in order to achieve pupil outcomes summarised within the Curriculum for Excellence. They are being challenged to develop their professional knowledge and understanding, skills, abilities, values and commitment (GTCS, 2006) to aid in their professional development.
Scottish teachers are now voyaging towards a "new" professionalism; a professionalism which includes commitment to individual and collegiate approaches to learning and the ability to reflect on one's own practice and develop this for the good of the learner, teacher and the school. Collegiality leads to a shared responsibility at all levels and eases the burden on the teacher; these partnerships help to develop opinions and drive teachers forward to committing themselves to higher goals (Lieberman and Miller, 1999: 22).
The impact of changes in teacher professionalism within my own school and implications for the future
This section shall draw from experiences gained from teaching physical education within two mainstream primary schools and a special school (secondary) for children with moderate to complex learning difficulties and associated behavioural problems.
The impact of the McCrone Report on staffing
Within the three schools the management structures are different. Each Head Teacher has control over the composition of their school management team, in consultation with their business manager and the local Education Department. At one primary school it is stated in their "Standards, Quality and Improvement Plan" (SQIP) that a "Factor affecting the development of the school" on a National basis is "The McCrone Report and the resulting changes in teachers' working conditions" (Tollcross, 2007-8: 4). It does not state in the SQIP why this statement has been made, but the Head Teacher has admitted there has been a substantial delay in the appointment of a Depute Head teacher: therefore delaying Learning and Teaching developments within the school, so funding can be spent on staffing elsewhere for McCrone cover (Tollcross, 2007-8: 25).
One of the main recommendations of the McCrone Report (Scottish Executive, 2000) was the provision of additional staff to provide management, administrative and ICT support to schools to reduce teachers' administrative workload.
This plan was instrumental in the employment of Learning Assistants, Administrative Assistants and School Business Managers to ease the burden of administrative tasks; the onus was previously on the teacher to carry out these tasks within the primary and SEN sectors.
With the reduction in class size and teacher class contact time, schools are requiring a higher level of staffing. It would seem that although Head Teachers are committed to satisfying the terms of the Agreement, the ever present reductions in funding threaten their fulfilment.
The future of PE specialists
McCrone cover arrangements differ: schools and authorities have various ways of dealing with this. In keeping with other authorities, the City of Edinburgh sees the use of visiting specialists as a solution to relieving class teachers in primary schools (SEED, 2003; Berry, 2007). It could be said that in the past, class teachers have seen the visiting specialist as a valuable tool in their CPD: this is now being denied to them (Asmar, in HMIe, 2002). At James Gillespie's Primary visiting specialists are being seen as a commodity that they can no longer afford. In keeping with some other Scottish primary schools they are looking for a more versatile way of tackling McCrone cover; the option of employing a primary trained teacher with an interest in PE and/or areas of the Expressive Arts is seen as an asset to the staffing of the school; they can teach any subject (Ross, 2006).
The school management hierarchy is in place to ensure that national and local government policies and structures are implemented; they have to be economic and accountable in their organisation (Sachs, 2003: 25). Head Teachers have the responsibility to demonstrate that their school and ultimately their teachers are performing to the necessary standard set by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIe).
In all three schools permanent teaching staff are regularly monitored and reviewed to evaluate their contribution towards the overall performance of their school towards the "Journey to Excellence" (HMIe, 2007). This also helps ensure that teachers are complying to the Standard of Full Registration (SFR), and for teachers in their probationary period the Standard of Initial Teacher Education (SITE). Unfortunately, in both primary schools mentioned the specialist teaching staff are not monitored or reviewed; the Head Teachers are relying on the professional commitment of their specialist staff to demonstrate an ethical approach to their career.
Woodlands School has a totally different approach. Each staff member is treated equally: all are made to feel that they are of value to the school: they are monitored regularly and have an annual review with the assigned member of the management team (HMIe, 2007a: 9).
All three schools claim a collegiate approach to learning as an important part of their continuing development (Tollcross, 2007-8, James Gillespie's, 2007-8, St Nicholas, 2007-8), one school stating in the Ethos section of its SQIP, "'The James Gillespie's Family' has developed very well over the last year with all staff working together for the benefit of pupils" (James Gillespie's, 2007-8: 15). This could be seen as the promotion of 'democratic professionalism', an "emphasis on collaborative, cooperative action between teachers and other educational stakeholders" Sachs (2003: 27).
The teaching profession is being encouraged to be more autonomous and collaborative, but at the same time it is under increasing scrutiny by politicians and society to be more accountable and to maintain standards (Sachs, 2003: 12). Tymms and Albone (2002, cited in Croxford and Cowie, 2005) refutes the suggestion that accountability automatically leads to school improvement stating,
"...the demands of external accountability may reduce trust and thus inhibit genuine self-evaluation but that monitoring systems that keep the data and discussions confidential between schools and local authorities are more likely to result in a productive outcome."
School managers are performing a "balancing act" to fulfil the expectations of what is expected of the school of the 21st Century and at the same time maintaining a positive climate within the school towards increased performativity.
Learning and Teaching
Within all three schools the Depute Head Teachers (DHT) and/or Principal Teachers (PT) are given the remit of overseeing Learning and Teaching and CPD within the school and report to the Head Teacher. These areas are influenced by new initiatives such as Higher Still, Assessment is for Learning (AifL) and the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).
As Woodlands School writes its SQIP (2008-9: 1) it acknowledges within its "vision statement" that learning is for life. This school agrees with Carnell and Lodge (2002: 8) that learning is a gradual process as it involves changing as a person; the changing of the social and emotional condition of the learner is as important as a change in the cognitive state. The learners at Woodlands experience different ways of learning; learning that is suited to the activity being undertaken; learning related to real life situations to make them meaningful experiences (HMIe, 2007a: 3).
As Ros Miller (Riach, 2008), a science teacher at Woodlands has stated, the Curriculum for Excellence has given teachers more freedom in learning. Teachers are given more opportunity to use their professional knowledge and judgement to create programmes to suit the learner. "They are not hemmed in by the curriculum". Ros feels that the "real life" approach is more meaningful and in turn a more enjoyable learning experience. This learning philosophy promoted at Woodlands is gradually creating a "learning orientation" amongst its pupils (Watkins et al, 2002 as cited in MacGilchrist et al, 2004: 53). The teachers are encouraged to use their professional knowledge and judgement when developing learning programmes for individual learners. With rigorous collegiate planning with input from learner, parents and outside agencies, targets are set for the learners which are achievable, yet challenging and enjoyable; building on previous learning (HMIe, 2007a). Assessment is formative, it is ongoing and evaluative, gathering evidence and interpreting this to review current learning to decide on the next steps; working towards a constructivist model of learning (Carnell and Lodge, 2002: 13).
A negative side to the changes in learning approaches and levels of accountability required in all schools, is the amount of paperwork generated (Kent, 2003). Teachers are worn out by the demands of record keeping; more systematic methods of recording and pupil tracking needs to be explored (HMIe, 2007a: 9).
Initiatives such as Assessment is For Learning (Scottish Executive, 2006) and the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive, 2004) have encouraged the teachers within Woodlands to adopt many of the principles of 'transformative professionalism' (Sachs, 2003), recognising that they have a moral responsibility and a collective accountability to influence the broader social, inclusive and cultural goals within the context of their own educational environment. It has also given improved individual and collaborative opportunities for teacher reflection, discussion and evaluation with increased scope for leadership responsibilities and personal development.
Continuing Professional Development
At Woodlands teachers are encouraged to reflect on their teaching; evaluating their performance and in turn identifying where their development needs are required. Consultation with management and the recognition of the cluster and school improvement plans aid in the planning of the teacher's CPD programme which will in turn have consequences in the success of the school's learning and teaching development policy (St Nicholas, 2007-8a).
When planning their CPD programme teachers are asked to self-evaluate and consider, How are you doing? How do you know? What are you going to do now? (HMIe, 2007). Teachers are given the opportunity to participate in a number of school based activities, e.g. reading, discussion, peer observation, team teaching, and collaborative research. The opportunity to attend local and national conferences and courses are also encouraged. All external CPD must be registered and approved by the DHT or Principal Teacher, who is the CPD co-ordinator in each school.
Within all three of the schools here are pockets of individuals who promote feelings of negativity towards the 35 hours CPD implemented by the McCrone Agreement (Scottish Executive, 2001): every course is logged and each minute is counted by management: the feeling is of control (Purdon, 2003: 436). However, Humes (2001: 10) states that,
"...teachers sometimes undermine their own professionalism by their hostility to ideas, whether from research or other sources, and by doing so play into the hands of those who wish to control them."
To overcome this pessimism, Humes (2001: 13) lists a set of conditions considered by Joyce and Showers (1980); they include, that management should lead by example, more suitable courses should be offered and more personal choice should be given. This may defuse the feeling of control in the future.
Although there are positives and negatives displayed within the changes taking place within the schools being discussed, the positives definitely outweigh the negative and it is hopeful that the future is bright for the learner and the teacher in the 21st Century.
Assessment of current personal practice against the Standard for Chartered Teacher
Within this section, I will illustrate that through my professional actions I have been committed to promoting effective learning. These actions are interlinked with the four central professional values and personal commitments:
Effectiveness in promoting learning in the classroom;
Critical self-evaluation and development;
Collaboration and influence; and
Educational and social values (Scottish Executive, 2002: 1).
Professional Values and Personal Commitments
My personal professional values are closely linked with the statement made by Michael O'Neill, Chairman of the "The Curriculum Review Group on Physical Education" (Scottish Executive, 2004a: 3), when he said physical educationalists have,
"...a deep belief in the importance of PE in schools as a core activity linked to healthy lifestyles, lifelong learning, improved health and an inclusive society...and success at sport at a national level..."
My interest in teaching physical education (PE) has gone beyond a practical base and the imparting of theoretical knowledge to embrace the social and moral aspects of PE. I feel it is important to have a vision and belief in ones profession and I agree with Laker (2000: 1) in his assertion that PE and sport have "an important role to play in constructing our society for the future".
But having a vision is not enough in itself. Throughout my career I have been committed to critical self-evaluation of my practice; this being reflected in the quality of my teaching and in turn the learning experiences afforded to the learner. St Nicholas Special School was inspected in May 2007 and as part of that inspection it was noted in the report that pupils were "progressing very well in physical education" (HMIe, 2007e: 2). (PA1)
I also believe that PE plays a vital role in shaping and developing values. Green and Hardman (2004: 10) believe that ethical values are inherent in PE: if taught correctly games can promote ethical thinking such as "equality, fairness, honesty and rule abiding action". I firmly believe that I promote these qualities within my PE lessons and within extra-curricular basketball, which I have taken at James Gillespie's Primary for the past 12 years. As well as skills and strategies, the children learn the importance of rules, team loyalty and socialisation when we train and play against other schools in leagues and festivals. The children welcome the opposition, provide refreshments, play to the rules and win and lose; all fundamental qualities of a model citizen. (PA7/8)
Within my lessons I show creativity and imagination to provide situations where decision making and teamwork are paramount to achieving the set task. For example, in my S1 class I taught gymnastics in peer selected groupings. This was to motivate the learners to collaborate with peers, with whom they could identify, giving them more control and responsibility over their learning, not always having to rely on the teacher. The learners were given sufficient time to work on the group task; there was no right or wrong answer, although there were given criteria of which the class had built knowledge during two years of gymnastic experience. Learners knew that there was a standard that I expected; how they chose to fulfil the task was open-ended (Carnell and Lodge, 2002: 34). I later reflected that this collaborative method stretched learners and standards were indeed exceeded. I also gave the learner a chance to work with peers with whom they would not normally choose to work, socialise or culturally make associations: an opportunity to develop their skills with other learners. (Pollard, 2006: 109). (PA 2/3)
I promote positive behaviour and show that I have enthusiasm and the capacity to motivate within my lessons. I use a points system in my secondary school, each learner being allocated from 0-2 points for their effort and behaviour in class, two being the most positive. Written comments can be explained to the learner to clarify the point's allocation; they are also discussed with the learners. The learners who have improved or achieved the highest points for the week are acknowledged on the plasma screen in the foyer of the school. I also take photographs or videos of learners' work to display on this screen. This is motivating for most learners: a crowd gathers round the screen, delighted when they are featured and striving to be featured in the future. (PA2)
I show that I am systematic and well organised when I manage various sporting or whole school events, e.g. sports day, health week, dance festivals, supporting the vision of the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive, 2004) that sport, "broadens life experiences and life chances of young people".
I am called upon to use my professional knowledge and judgement to make these events effective and meaningful. The most recent events have been an athletics morning, golf day and school sports; where I worked in collaboration with sports co-ordinators, senior management and outside agencies. I received letters of thanks from staff and pupils after these events informing me how much they had gained from the experience. I have reflected on their success and with colleagues noting various strategies for improvement for the future. (PA 4/7)
I show that I am caring and approachable when I support students during school placements. Primary students attend my lessons to observe and assist in teaching PE, they ask advice for their lessons and I observe them and make suggestions and comments. I also support 1st year PE students within the primary school and attend meetings at Edinburgh University to assist in planning for the student visits. For the past 2 years I have supported 3rd year PE students who opt to develop their self-efficacy by observing and teaching pupils with additional support for learning needs in the context of PE (Edinburgh University, 2007), a positive experience as illustrated by the university tutor relaying positive comments from the students in his email of thanks to the school. I also team teach a difficult S2 class with a newly qualified PE teacher. We have both learned from this collaborative experience, each having valuable knowledge and teaching strategies to offer each other. (PA5/7)
Professional Knowledge and Understanding
My interest in special educational needs started about 20 years ago. I noticed that there were a number of children with motor/co-ordination problems within my PE classes. These children often had other problems relating to learning difficulties or were on the autistic spectrum. Management supported me in establishing small groups within the primary schools; some children called it their "Special Gym". These sessions helped improve motor skills, social and communication skills, visual and perceptual skills. In the whole class PE setting the children showed improvement in their gross motor skills and in turn greater self-esteem encouraging some to find fulfilment through extra-curricular activities. Class teachers often commented on the improvement that they noticed within the classroom with the child's confidence and co-ordination. This is consistent with Ericsson (2003: 55) who found in her study of 7-10 year olds,
"...more physical activity and movement enjoyment in school led to a spirit of community and a general increase in comfort with school work, which could have had positive effects also for the pupil's academic achievements".
I continued to develop my knowledge in this area by attending "Therapy Inclusion Partnership" meetings organised by occupational and physiotherapists from Lothian Health Trust, listening to experts and by group networking which is invaluable for my work in the special school where time is allocated to such groups within the curriculum. (PA5)
Prior to starting as PE teacher at St Nicholas, I was careful to increase my knowledge in Additional Support for Learning (ASL). I attended courses in autism, behavioural management, dyspraxia and ADHD which gave me an insight into the background of these conditions. I have constantly updated my knowledge in this area by reading and through collegiate discussions. This has been invaluable; giving ideas of how to increase learning for ASL children within the classroom setting. I have also completed certificated courses run by Edinburgh Council, "Support for Learning" Levels 1 and 2. A major part of these courses concerned the ASL (Scotland) Act (2004) which is a necessary requirement for teaching ASL learners. During the Level 2 course I delivered a presentation which informed the group about a learning tool which we found useful in our teaching. This and other presentations were published in a booklet that was issued to each class member. (PA 5/6)
To support learners, Woodlands School promotes a Total Communication approach to learning. This includes the use of gesture, signing, facial expression, photographs, symbols and other methods of non verbal communications alongside verbalisation (St Nicholas, 2007-8). I have trained in "Signalong" which is a method of signing used to augment verbalisation. This supports learners with speech and communication difficulties within and out with the school environment (Kennard, Grove and Hall, 1992 cited by Department of Speech and Language Therapy, 2007). I have found this to be an important tool in communicating effectively, especially with primary aged children and life skills classes in the secondary department. During our last inspection it was noted a Key strength of the school was "Approaches to meeting the social, emotional and communication needs of the pupils" (HMIe, 2007a: 1). (PA1/3)
As a result of these learning experiences, I can offer an enhanced and challenging curriculum within my PE programme in both the primary and the special school which is dependent on my resourceful and positive approach. These programmes aim to promote both individualised and collaborative working where differentiation is paramount to the confidence and motivation of the learner (Teachernet, 2008). The learners are exposed to a variety of learning experiences within the activities of swimming, gymnastics, dance, various games and outdoor education. These experiences promote a kinaesthetic learning style (MacGilchrist et al, 2006: 61). Through cross curricular connections within the Curriculum for Excellence I work with colleagues to give effective real life experiences to the learner and in turn give exposure to Gardner's intelligences which if not a preference of the learner will hopefully be learnt (MacGilchrist et al, 2006: 57). The special school system with its flexibility in timetabling is ideal for the promotion of this type of work. It also helps that we have a very supportive head teacher who sees its value. Most recently, these cross-curricular connections have been strongest with the Home Economics and Science departments within the special school in relation to school sports, and the setting up of our new fitness suite; the learners showing enthusiasm in learning about energy, calorific value and exercise through this experience. (PA3)
Throughout my teaching career I have been committed to working collaboratively with colleagues, being a member of the PE specialist group that produced the 5-14, Creative Dance Programme of Study for Edinburgh Council. Although this was published 10 years ago it is still being used by primary class teachers and PE specialists to plan their PE lessons. (PA7)
More recently I have been a member of collaborative groups working on formative assessment at my special school. This group researched and trialled various methods of formative assessment and used whole-school feedback to contribute towards an assessment policy for our Learning and Teaching handbook. This policy is now a guide to teachers and is instrumental in helping learners understand their learning. We share "the big picture" with the learner, key features being to negotiate suitable success criteria with the learner, use effective questioning and discussion, giving effective feedback and learner self assessment and evaluation. This is a slow process, but one which is highly valuable: it is helping the learner towards meta-learning, learning how to be in control of their own learning (Watkins et al, 2001 cited in MacGilchrist et al, 2006: 54). I promote this within my PE lessons, using learning reminders of "Thumbs up, thumbs down" to indicate that learners are ready to move on, or need more working time; "Response Partners" where the learners tell the truth to their partner to help them to "make it better"; and "I-you-we-statements" to check how well learners have worked, how helpful they have been and how well they have performed as a group. The learners find these motivational and enjoyable. (PA1/3/7)
This session I chose to be part of a "target setting" group as I felt that I had knowledge and experience to offer in this area. The main reason was that I had already set up a system for the PE department. Over the last 4 years I have researched and trialled different methods of planning and assessing learners. I collaborated with 'Support for Learning' teachers from mainstream schools to produce an efficient IEP layout which showed clear long term and short term targets. These targets which were truly individualised and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound) were then individually evaluated: evidence was gathered through video and photographs. When the school was inspected in June 2007 the inspectors commented very positively on the physical education IEPs and suggested to management that they were used as a model to extend into a whole school system. (PA4)
Since the merger between St Nicholas and Kingsinch schools, everyone has gone through a challenging time adjusting to the new school. After having a very encouraging HMIe report in 2007 which stated, "Relationships among staff and between staff and pupils were very positive" (HMIe, 2007a: 7), we are now faced with a disruptive element within the pupil population. Management invited staff to contribute to collegiate discussion which they hoped would lead to a strategy of how to deal with this problem. I put forward a proposal to staff which centered around the introduction of a "house" system within the school which I believe if introduced carefully could promote a positive ethos within our school (Scottish Executive, 2005). It could help learners feel that they are part of a learning environment in which their actions, views and ideas are valued. Until learners believe they have influence in the structure of the learning environment and the "boundaries between the learners and the teachers are broken down" (Carnell and Lodge, 2002: 34) enabling the personal and social development of the learner, we cannot expect to have success with the learning process. It has been agreed that I will play a leading role in the development of this "house" system, incorporating "eco-schools" to support the system. This will give relevance, coherence and personal choices to the learner, enabling them to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors (Scottish Executive, 2004). (PA8/9)
Another recent learning experience has been the use of ICT to support pupil with Additional Support Needs. I have developed this within my Access Level PE Life Skills classes through using "Clicker 5 - Talking Books". I intend to develop this further as it helps the learner write sentences about their work using photographs and videos taken by their peers or the teacher. If the learner cannot read or write a microphone is used to install their knowledge into the programme. This is an excellent evaluative tool and also provides evidence for the SQA; the learner is motivated in their work and takes a pride in showing others "in what ways they are smart" (MacBeath, 1997 cited by MacGilchrist et al, 2006: 57). (PA1/2/3)
Professional and Personal Attributes
Through my participation in the Standard for Chartered Teacher I have developed professional judgement through reflective practice. This has taken the form of using my learning journal for day-to-day observations of my own behaviour, that of the learner and of the learning environment. Analysing these observations is helping to continuously improve my practice that I intend to employ to augment future learning skills (Tripp, 2006).
I have developed a problem-solving approach which can be demonstrated by the use of differentiation through my experience in teaching PE and reflect on this daily. Although it is difficult to differentiate in an active environment, where space can be at a premium, I am aware of each learner's needs and with the use of visual and verbal prompts can guide each individual towards success. This is particularly evident from an entry in my learning journal (16/4/08) when I first met one of the new 'Life Skills' classes. This was the first time I had ever experienced teaching a class with such complex learning difficulties. All were recognised as requiring 1:1 attention but there was no funding for this. The onus is on the teacher to provide a meaningful educational experience for the learner, something that seriously concerned me with this class. Although I take advice from the "Elaborated Curriculum" (HMIe, 2001), I find that for PE, it gives little guidance for older learners, e.g. 15-16 years. The steps are too large, and a specialist teacher would have more knowledge than is provided within the document. However, I have produced a programme where learners all work individually on tasks; they especially enjoy the fitness suite and can work on a programme prepared for them. We also swim and go for walks to develop life skills, activities which they can continue to pursue when they leave school next session. (PA1/3)
Although I have developed my professional practice through using the "Total Communication", a visual communication system, in school and find it invaluable as my main method of communication for Down's syndrome and Autistic learners. I had a critical incident in one of my classes which after reflection with a critical friend, was judged to stem through lack of communication on various levels (Reflective Journal, 12/5/08). The incident involved learners refusing to exit the swimming pool. After using symbols and signing to no effect I had demonstrate resourcefulness calling upon three fellow teachers to help me remove each learner from the pool. My learning point is that I will not accept these learners in the pool without support. Both boys are now on a reward system (stick on symbols). They work in 5 minute intervals; if they earn their reward they are allowed to choose a play session which they like doing with their peer group. If they have been disruptive they have time alone; both learners are now using The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) which is a behaviourist learning approach based on a reward system (Pyramid Consultants, 2008). This will take time to introduce and is a whole school and home approach. (PA4)
I feel that my Professional and Personal Attributes are also demonstrated throughout the whole of Section 3.
A summary of my development needs and interests
I have reflected on my self-evaluation against the Standard for Chartered Teacher and feel that through my professional action I have come some way towards fulfilling the four central values and commitments.
I now intend to enhance my teaching through increased reflection and evaluation of my practice; increasing my professional judgement which as Tripp (2006, p 125) suggests is, "...essential to teaching, particularly to the life-long well-being of children".
Whilst looking at my development needs, I also considered the priorities set by my schools, local and national authorities (Scottish Executive, 2004).
One my interests requiring the most immediate action is the introduction of the scheme "Fit for Girls" (FfG) to Woodlands. This is a national project led by "sportscotland" and backed by the Scottish Government and is aimed at girls aged 11-16 with the purpose of encouraging the adoption of a more active lifestyle (Scottish Government, 2008).
My personal development required for this project will centre around reading, to increase my knowledge on the most recent developments on fitness management for young people. I will also visit, observe and ask questions of my counterpart at Currie High School; one of the pilot schools used for this initiative. I will work with and attend training courses run by the outside agencies influential in delivering this project though government financed extra-curricular activities.
I intend to further develop ICT in my teaching and in turn enhance learning in PE in both primary and special school sectors. My intention is to allow learners to use these tools to initiate work within formative assessment. An example being, "Response Partners" where the learners would have the evidence through "i-movie" or photographs to back up the comments they have made to their partner in helping them improve. This would also be done in groups within a problem-solving approach, augmenting collaborative learning.
Initially, I would develop my understanding of the extent of ICT proficiency that pupils have already been taught and will be bringing to my lessons. To enable me to do this I will liaise with colleagues and familiarise myself with programmes and skills. I will enrol on CPD courses to increase my skills and knowledge; enabling their incorporation into existing schemes of work in a meaningful way which will take PE forward and not delay subject development (DfES, 2004: 9).
This session, as part of my personal development I asked to get more classroom teaching experience as I am very aware that due to the popularity of my subject I have few discipline problems due to lack of motivation in my classes. I also wished to learn more about teaching literacy and numeracy to extend the knowledge that I had acquired from CPD courses and put it into action. The head teacher of St Nicholas was very supportive with this and placed me with a primary 4/5 class as principal teacher relief for one day per week from August until Easter. During this period I learned a great deal about classroom teaching and management; an invaluable experience.
I now wish to extend this experience and at my request have been allocated a guidance remit for part of the week from next session. Within this setting I intend to research into developing life skills through the medium of PE and an "Eco-schools" project (Keep Scotland Beautiful, 2003). Through real-life and meaningful experiences, I hope to develop cross-curricular work to promote healthy eating, exercise and fitness. This will eventually become a whole school project and with collaboration with colleagues would hope to develop this in tandem with other initiatives promoted by "Eco-schools Scotland".
To develop this I will attend "Eco-schools Scotland" training courses. I will read and research on the internet to increase my knowledge. I also intend to visit other schools already involved in this project to gain knowledge and practical ideas.
Next session I intend to extend my knowledge in communication through courses on TEACHH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication - Handicapped Children). TEACCH is an evidence-based service, training, and research program for individuals of all ages and skill levels with autism spectrum disorders. This is a more child specific; working with a team of therapists, parents and teachers to improve communication for individual child and in turn improve their learning experiences (TEACCH website).
TEACHH is now being used as a whole-school initiative at Woodlands and I plan to attend twi-light courses provided by City of Edinburgh Council on this subject. I have already approached colleagues who are experienced in TEACHH regarding the possibility of observing them.
As I gain more confidence and experience in understanding professional literature and educational policy, I would expect to contribute more to CPD and be more able to articulate an independent and critical stance in relation to contrasting perspectives on educational issues, policies and developments.