A cluster level evaluation of the impact of Critical Skills training on classroom pedagogy.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is now both a professional entitlement and responsibility for teachers in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2001). Teacher development is essential for introducing new methodologies and can enhance skills/knowledge as well as develop a capacity to cope with change.
This thesis is a two-staged evaluation of a staff training programme; Critical Skills (CS). The aims of the thesis were to: evaluate the participants’ views of the training, assess the impact of the training on practice, identify supports and inhibitors and identify support required now, post-training.
Qualitative and quantitative data was gathered at stages 1 and 2, using questionnaires and interviews (stage 2 only). The results indicated that the training had increased the knowledge level of the respondents as well as provide them with basic skills. Respondents found the course to be relevant to practice and the experiential training style to be beneficial to their learning. At research stage 2 all staff had begun to implement the new approach in practice, to vary degrees. Respondents highlighted the following as supportive to implementation: peer support, their own attitude and experience of using CS in practice. Respondents highlighted the following as inhibitive to implementation: lack of time for planning, lack of whole school/cluster approach and lack of opportunities to observe the use of CS.The following were identified as being pertinent to the successful integration of CS into practice: strategic implementation, involvement of school management and individual ownership and responsibility. Respondents now required, further professional development, opportunities for peer support/collaboration and strategic direction.
The thesis highlights the importance post-training follow-up support in sustaining the impact of training and the difficulties associated with “one-off” courses. Recommendations for the local authority have been made which could enhance the development of CS. Finally implications are given for the practice of Educational Psychology at both the level of the individual practitioner and service.