Primary teachers and professional development : the early years
This study is about teacher development for early career primary teachers, undertaken at a time of particular interest in providing a coherent professional development programme for teachers in the first five years of their career. It was undertaken from my perspective as a primary headteacher with the desire to improve the experience of professional development for these teachers. The research was undertaken by means of questionnaires and interviews and provides a picture professional development provision that is fragmented and lacking in coherence. While enjoying a relatively wide range of activities and experiences overall, early career teachers appear to have a more limited ongoing provision. This seems to be only loosely linked to any personal needs that may have been identified. A lack of rigorous evaluation procedures may well contribute to the situation where there is little clarity about the outcomes of professional development activities and experiences. Teachers are aware of a wide range of outcomes and value those that support them in their teaching. It is their own teaching that appears to be the focus of teachers' attention in relation to professional development rather than children's learning. Teachers, aware of pressures to meet exacting requirements in their work, appreciate opportunities to learn from those who have experience of similar situations. Professional development can result from meeting the challenges that teachers face in the early stages of their career, but the climate in which those challenges are met can be of crucial importance. As a consequence of the research conclusions are drawn which can inform my own practice, and also provide material for the consideration of others who have an interest in, or responsibility for, facilitating and nurturing the professional development of early career teachers.