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Name of Student:

Terence Cunniffe

Article/Reading: Council, T. (2015). Cosn, Draft Framework for Teachers


Learning
CONCISE SUMMARY OF READING
Cosn is the Teaching Councils proposed flexible framework to highlight the
importance and value of supporting teachers learning while acknowledging the
variety of learning activities teachers complete for the benefit of their students.
Cosn comes from the Irish word for pathway and reflects the fact that learning
is fundamentally a journey. Consultation for this framework began in 2014, with
over 3,300 teachers participating through surveys, workshops and school based
feedback. This was a unique process as it invited teachers initial views before
the drafting process commenced. This left the shape and content of the
framework in the hands of the teachers. There are several key core values
underpinning the proposals in Cosn including, professional autonomy; flexibility;
relevance and quality; accessibility; acknowledgement and impact.
Cosn is based on a richer understanding of standards which sees them less as
goals to be reached and left behind, and more as providing a focus for ongoing
teacher learning processes. It anticipates that CPD should be guided by
standards that would facilitate teachers as individuals or collectively, by:

Reflecting critically on their teaching and their learning,

Identifying areas for further professional learning

Planning for their learning

Celebrating their learning experiences and accomplishments

The Council is proposing the following three standards to guide teachers


learning:
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Teachers demonstrate a sustained commitment to quality teaching and


learning

Teachers demonstrate a commitment to continued professional growth

Teachers demonstrate a commitment to practising professionally, and to


sustaining that level of professionalism over a prolonged period

Based on feedback from teachers, the Council believes that teachers learning
can be viewed as having four dimensions, formal/informal, personal/professional,
collaborative/individual, school-based/external to the workplace, these four areas
can overlap in various ways to create more diverse learning opportunities.
Teachers learning takes place through a variety of learning processes, from
participation in courses or programmes, workshops, reading, discussions,
collaboration, learning through practice and mentoring. It is proposed that the
framework allows for teachers to select a range of priority learning activities
such as, inclusion, ICT, literacy and numeracy, leading learning, well-being and
supporting teachers learning. This approach allows teachers the freedom to plan
their professional learning to take account of their changing needs and the
changing needs of their pupils/students. It is also in keeping with the Professional
Code of Conduct for Teachers.
One of the key principles underpinning Cosn is professional autonomy. Another
is impact. The council believes that evidence gathering, reflection and on-going
learning are career long processes and it proposes that teachers would identify
from their own practice, examples of their teaching which will help them to
determine their professional growth through their individual reflection. In
addition to individual reflection the Council plans to develop a series of resources
to support professional conversations between teachers with an aim to develop
collaborative or collective reflection in relation to teacher learning and
effectiveness. It is anticipated that the council will develop criteria and
procedures for the programmes relating to the continuing education and training
of teachers.
It is also envisaged that the Council will develop a strategy for implementing an
accreditation role which may involve the accreditation of approved providers,
and/or approved third parties who will review and accredit programmes on the
Councils behalf.
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In conclusion, through Cosn, the Teaching Council is seeking to provide


reassurance to the profession and the public that teachers are engaging in
lifelong learning. The Teaching Council must also give reassurance, through the
national framework, about the quality of that learning. Its accreditation role will
be a key element in that regard.

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CRITICAL REFLECTION
The approach taken by the Teaching Council in the development of their new
draft policy on continuous professional development, Cosn, Draft Framework for
Teachers Learning, in my opinion identifies that they believe the time for a fresh
look at teacher education and training has come. The 2005 OECD Report
Teachers Matter, Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers, states
that one of the main challenges for policy makers is how to sustain teacher
quality and ensure all teachers continue to engage in effective modes of ongoing professional learning. The Councils new document, Cosn, was somewhat
an experimental process as it invited teachers initial views before the drafting
process commenced.
Cosn left the shape and content of the framework in the hands of the profession
as it did not involve the Council consulting on a prepared draft of the framework.
This initiative of involving the teachers in the development and implementation
of new policies was also highlighted in the 2005 OECD Report Teachers Matter.
The report states that, teachers themselves need to be actively involved in
policy development and implementation and feel a sense of ownership of reform,
otherwise it is unlikely that substantial changes will be successfully implemented
(OECD, 2005). As the quality of student learning depends as much on teachers
learning as on their teaching I believe this document to a be a massive stepping
stone for the future of education as it enables teachers to play a leading role in
educational reform. The Council is seeking to foster a culture of powerful
professional learning based on teachers active engagement in their own
learning, for their benefit and that of their students (Council, 2015).
The Council wants to ensure that teachers are capable of meeting all the
challenges of an ever changing school environment, that they are life-long
learners and that they have the ability to constantly adapt to support students.
The pace of change in the education system since 1990s, including changes to
curriculum, pedagogy, multiculturalism, ICT, social inclusion and assessment
together with legislative changes (National Plan for Literacy and Numeracy in
Schools, Aistear,) is having a significant effect on teaching. Teaching is an
increasingly more complex role which requires a much greater degree of
interaction with students, colleagues, parents and co-professionals (Council,
2011). Cosn has been developed to identify that teaching is a steady on-going
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process rather than instant perfection. It also coincides with the Councils key
principles, shared professional development, collective professional confidence
and professional led regulation. In addition to this it builds on the Councils
document, The Continuum of Teacher Education 2011.
The Continuum of Teacher Education refers to the importance of Continuing
professional development, which it describes as the life-long learning and
compromises of the full educational experiences designed to enrich teachers
professional knowledge, understanding and capabilities (Council, 2011). The
continuum of education has traditionally been referred to internationally as the
three Is of Initial teacher education, Induction and In career development. The
Council is adding another set of three Is innovation, integration and
improvement which should underpin all the stages of the continuum (Council,
2011).
Innovation

Initial teacher training must be reviewed where fresh thinking is applied to


ensure it is fit for purpose for the 21st Century in preparing teachers for
the induction stage (Council, 2011). Initial teacher education should be
viewed as the entry point for the profession and the platform for teachers
development. (OECD, 2005)

Induction

The Council believes there is an over reliance on initial teacher education


(Council, 2011). To deal with this various induction programmes for newly
qualified teachers (NQTs) have been established such as The National
Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT, 2015) and Droichead (Council,
2013) both of which offer support and help promote the professional
development of NQTs by assigning them mentors during their first year in
a school environment. The importance of this issue is echoed again in the
2005 OECD Report Teachers Matter, Attracting, Developing and Retaining
Effective

Teachers,

which

states

creating

structure

that

allows

experienced teachers to work with NQTs will ultimately strengthen the


overall organisation (OECD, 2005). This report also states that there would
be more value from improving induction and teacher development
throughout their career rather than increasing the length of pre-service
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education (OECD, 2005, p. 11).


Improvement

In areas of teacher education and training the Council identifies some


programmes as being overloaded and based on a somewhat out of date
model of more contact hours and assessment. Which the Council considers
to be insufficient in the development of teachers as reflective, enquiry
based life-long learners (Council, 2011). The Council acknowledges the
benefits of NIPT but sees it as a mere stepping stone on the path to
growth and improvement. As a result of the investigational research of
Cosn the Council hope to change the role of CPD so that it can motivate
teachers and learners to meet new challenges. The Council hopes to
remove concept of mandatory CPD which some teachers believe promotes
a compliance mentality resulting in minimal engagement (Council, 2015).
Lorna Owen discuss a similar statement in her essay on Continuing
Professional Development: Can it be Creative, she believes that it is crucial
to build a structure where teachers move from passive attendance to
active engagement in their own learning, and where structured CPD
programmes support ongoing development rather than overhauling
techniques every few weeks or months (Owen, 2014, p. 60).

From my research for this report it is evident that there is a need for continued
professional

development

of

teachers

throughout

their

career,

however

motivating teachers to participate in such training in addition to their already


overwhelming workload appears to be an issue. Cosn acknowledges the
learning teachers already engage in and its main concern is to involve teachers
and allow them the freedom to choose a pathway for their own future learning so
they can continue to meet the needs of their students (Council, 2015). The
Council aims to develop criteria and procedures for an accreditation system, in
consultation with stakeholders. The accreditation system will be provided by an
independent agency where possible to ensure quality in teacher education. It will
be

based

on

teachers

attending

and

completing

various

development

programmes throughout their career. An incentive for this system would be that
pay rises could be earned through participation in accredited courses rather than
received simply for ageing (William, 2014, p. 34).

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In conclusion professional learning is becoming part and parcel of a career long


commitment to continuous improvement of classroom practice to develop the
teacher and improve the outcomes for the students. However many teachers
already feel that their work is undervalued resulting in a negative attitude
towards additional work. It was suggested in the OECD Report 2005 Developing
Teachers Knowledge and Skills that a more integrated approach to professional
development should be followed. It included, providing teachers with agreed
levels of time release and/or financial support for additional training, that
participation be accredited and seen as a requirement for salary increases or
taking on new roles and that individual teacher development should be linked
with school improvement needs (OECD, 2005). The Teaching Council is beginning
to identify with some of the needs of teachers in relation professional
development.

Through

the

development

of

Cosn

they

have

fostered

professional conversations and generated valuable data which has enabled the
voice of teachers to shape the structures that will keep learning at the heart of
the teaching profession. It is also important to note that Cosn is an ongoing
process, where all stakeholders have been asked to read the proposal and
provide feedback for final publication in 2016.

LIST OF REFERENCES

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Bibliography
Council, T. (2011). Policy on the Continuum of Teacher Education. Dublin:
Teaching Council.
Council, T. (2013). Droichead A quick reference guide. Kildare: Teaching Council.
Council, T. (2015). Cosn Draft Framework for Teachers Learning. Dublin:
Teaching Council.
NIPT. (2015, October 09). National Induction Programme for Teachers. Retrieved
from teacherinduction.ie: http://teacherinduction.ie/en/about/overview
OECD. (2005). Developing Teachers' Knowledge and Skills Pointers for Policy
Development. Paris: Directorate for Education, Education and Training
Policy.
OECD. (2005). Teachers Matter, Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective
Teachers. Pointers for Policy Development. European Commission.
Owen, L. (2014). Continuing Professional Development: Can it be Creative? In L.
B. Joe Hallgarten, Licensed to Create, Ten Essays on Improving Teacher
Quality. Action Research Centre.
William, D. (2014). Teacher Expertise: Why it matters and how to get more of it.
In L. B. Joe Hallgarten, Licensed to Create, Ten essays on improving
teacher quality. Action and Resource Centre.

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