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Professional Learning in the Workplace
 

Gaining academic credit for your work-related learning.

What does this mean?

Teachers are constantly engaged in a process of learning in order to maintain and develop their professional standards in their work with children. Sheffield Hallam has developed a special module called 'Professional Learning in the Workplace' (PLW) which provides the opportunity to gain academic credit for this learning.

Such learning may take many forms, for example through undertaking projects with colleagues in schools in other countries; through action research activities or through short courses provided by Subject Associations or LA advisors; through attending national, regional or local conferences or seminars; or through working with colleagues, either as peers or as mentors in INSET sessions or other ways of working together.

The context of learning may also take many forms, for example you or a group of colleagues may have been asked to take responsibility for a specific school improvement project or you may have identified particular issues with your class that you wish to explore.

We call all these different options the 'Learning Jigsaw' and our approach recognises that the Learning Jigsaw that one teacher puts together is probably different to that which another teacher may create for themselves. It also recognises that time is a key factor in teachers working lives. This is reflected in your evidence portfolio being primarily centred on the school-based work that you are undertaking, together with a reflective commentary structured around six core dimensions of your work - these are described later.

How does this work?

You enrol on the module, become a member of a school-based learning group and attend support sessions at your school to help prepare a portfolio of evidence of your learning. 

What's in a portfolio?

Sheffield Hallam tutors will support you in developing evidence of reflective thinking around six core dimensions of the project / activity that you have chosen to focus on. These include

your engagement with an appropriate knowledge base (eg research evidence, school data, the experiences of teachers in other institutions)

  • how you access peer support, coaching and/or mentoring
  • planning your learning activity
  • carrying out a change activity (i.e. implementing your plan)evaluating the impact of the change activity on practice and your own learning

disseminating what has been learnt and how it can be used by others (e.g. through written reports, web-based  materials, hosting a meeting)

Portfolios can include a wide range of documentary evidence, wherever possible produced as part of your normal work. Examples of learning evidence that have been included as part of teachers’ submissions are: photographic, video or PowerPoint evidence; a learning journal kept over the course of the project; and annotated plans as well as written reports. A portfolio of these materials, together with your reflective thinking, would typically amount to around 6000 words for 30 M-level credits.

What credit can I get?

Each PLW portfolio can be accredited for either 30 or 60 credits depending on its scope and scale. Within our framework, a Postgraduate Certificate is worth 60 credits; a Postgraduate Diploma 120, and a full Masters 180. You can also supplement the PLW module with others from Sheffield Hallam Professional Development Programme, or add it to Masters credits that you may already have. There is also the possibility of gaining credit for learning achieved from courses such as NPQH and Leading from the Middle.

How is the module delivered?

The Professional Learning in the Workplace (PLW) module is normally delivered for a cohort of participants at a venue convenient to them thus minimising/eliminating travel time.

This may involve individuals or small groups drawn from a number of schools or it can be a larger group from just one or two schools. There is flexibility in this approach and variations, for example in start dates and pattern of session distribution which can be made to suit the requirements of particular cohorts of participants and the planning & development cycles of their schools.  We typically use twilight sessions delivered at schools.

Participants enjoy ongoing support from course tutors, from their peers through learning sets and from the University’s on-line learning resources. As a guide, we would normally expect each PLW module to take around one to two terms to complete although this may vary according to individual needs and circumstances. There will normally be between four and six sessions of two hours, or equivalent support, from a tutor.

Gaining membership of the Teacher Learning Academy?

The TLA is a national framework developed by the General Teaching Council to value and recognise teachers' professional learning in the workplace. Sheffield Hallam has been involved in its development and can now offer TLA membership alongside academic credit. We are one of the first Universities in the country to do so and thus continue our innovative ways of supporting teacher learning and school improvement. We use the same portfolio that you submit for academic credit as the basis of verification for entry to the TLA.

There are currently 300+ Teachers working with us to gain academic credit and membership of the TLA, ranging from Headteachers to teachers in their second year of teaching. A number of teachers are on their second and third projects.

What do I have to do?

For further information about enrolment or other aspects of the PLW module please contact

Reg Tooth, head of Professional Learning in the Workplace
r.j.tooth@shu.ac.uk or
James Kirwan, course administrator
j.kirwan@shu.ac.uk