Learning Leaders - Teacher Professional Learning Strategy

The Department’s Strategy for Teacher Professional Learning – “Learning Leaders” – launched in 2016, and it marked an important milestone in shaping the future of teacher professional learning in Northern Ireland.

The Strategy was built on the Department’s 2009 school improvement policy – Every School a Good School – which recognised that teachers need high quality professional learning opportunities to meet pupils’ developing needs in a rapidly changing world.

Reflecting a wide range of views from our educational partners, the Strategy’s vision was helpfully summarised in one succinct statement:

Every teacher is a learning leader, accomplished in working collaboratively with all partners in the interests of children and young people.

Underpinning this vision, the Strategy focuses on five key areas, which are reinforced by 15 policy commitments. The key areas are:

  • Building Professional Learning Communities (which support and encourage closer collaboration between practitioners, schools, school clusters and area learning communities in order to drive improvement);
  • A Teacher Professional Learning Framework (giving teachers access to a coherent and career-long professional learning framework, underpinned by revised teacher competences);
  • Stakeholder Engagement (enabling collaboration with practitioners and educational partners across the system on actions arising out of the Strategy);
  • Building Leadership Capacity (by strengthening the support and professional learning for school leaders at all stages of their career); and
  • The Development and Dissemination of Effective Practice (supporting the identification and harnessing of innovative practice we know is already in the system in order to effect improvement and develop ‘next’ practice).

The overall aim of the Strategy is to empower the teaching profession to strengthen its professionalism and expertise in order to meet the challenging and diverse educational needs of all our children and young people. Enhancing the knowledge and skills of the teaching workforce enables our teachers to provide effective instruction that supports the development of the critical skills necessary for the various stages of our children’s education.

Implementation of the Learning Leaders Strategy has been taken forward through an Oversight Group, a number of Working Groups (on (i) leadership competences, (ii) early career development, (iii) the development of standards for teacher professional learning, and (iv) communication and engagement), and annual Action Plans.

The Oversight Group provides strategic direction, and its membership is from across the sector, including representatives from the Department, Education Authority (EA), Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers NI (UCETNI), Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the General Teaching Council for NI (GTCNI), as well as a number of school practitioners.

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