Continuing Professional DevelopmentGovernments across Europe have devoted a good bit of thinking time to designing professional development arrangements for VET teachers and trainers. The designs vary markedly, as is demonstrated in Professional development for VET teachers and trainers a Briefing Paper released in July by CEDEFOP (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training).  Despite the many and varied approaches several features about professional development are reasonably consistent.  There is universal endorsement of continuing professional development (CPD) as an integral part of a VET teacher’s or trainer’s working life. Read more…link to the rest of the article

The Briefing Paper explains:

About half of the countries have established a legal basis for teacher and trainer CPD. However, not all of them have defined its amount, duration and expected outcomes. In some countries, CPD is a teachers’ right, sometimes covered by collective agreements (Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden); in others, it is an obligation (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal, UK-England) or a part of the school development and quality assurance processes (Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Portugal). In Spain and Slovakia, attending CPD programmes translates into wage bonuses for teachers.

CEDEFOP’s Briefing Paper is useful background for our own national conversation about the need for an Australia-wide approach to CPD for VET teachers/trainers. In January 2016, Commonwealth Department of Education Training released Quality of assessment in vocational education and training – Discussion Paper

There are marked differences between European nations about the kinds of organisations that provide accredited or recognised CPD programs. Some nations adopt several strategies. The Briefing Paper sets out seven approaches including:

  • higher education institutions and universities provide VET CPD in Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, UK-Wales
  • in-service training institutions provide VET CPD in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Slovakia, Romania, the UK.

Reading the Briefing Paper brings home the fact that in Europe VET provision is closely integrated across school systems, tertiary institutions and workplaces. In-company trainers, for example, have a well recognised central role in VET. VET in Australia doesn’t share the same measure of integration. Nonetheless, the broad areas of priority for teacher and trainer professional development are the same – initial teacher education, ongoing learning about pedagogy, and an emphasis on industry currency.

A section of the Quality of assessment in vocational education and training – Discussion Paper (pages 11-12) is given over to a discussion of the merits of establishing a national VET professional association that

… could be responsible for developing VET teacher standards, providing input into the design of TAE qualifications, supporting the development and delivery of professional development and providing a professional identity for the VET workforce.