Last week I attended the 10th annual conference of QuiTE held at the British Council offices in London. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for Quality in TESOL Education and the theme of the conference was ‘Maintaining standards in TESOL in the face of changing market forces’. It was an all day event with a number of speakers representing different sectors in the English teaching world, ranging from Praxis, a voluntary organisation which provides support to communities of the most vulnerable refugees and migrants, to those running University Masters’ programmes in TESOL. There was also some discussion on the question of ‘native speaker’ English teachers and the ramifications of using that term.
For our purposes, the most relevant part dealt with CPD (Continuing Professional Development) for teachers in training, recently qualified teachers and more experienced professionals, not excluding management!
The conference kicked off with a speaker from QuiTE who told us of their plan to introduce a research dimension to their organisation and that their primary source of data would involve case studies/interviews with individuals thinking of getting an initial teaching qualification/ those in training/and novice EFL/ESOL teachers. The setting would be EFL schools/ESOL units in the south of England. The key factors are the choices and decisions that stimulate them to join the profession and what QuiTE can do to steer them towards useful choices. Case studies would explore the experience of teachers with narrative interviews allowing them to tell their stories. It could also involve workshops conducted by QuiTE in participating schools. However, this project is still in its infancy and the organisation will in due course set out the details.
Tim Phillips, Head of Teacher Development at the British Council, spoke of CPD being at the heart of quality, and how they hope to make it easier for teachers of English to see direction and find assistance in developing their careers. He defined the many pathways available in the profession eg EFL/ESOL/EAP etc; management / publishing / media / examinations /academic; UK / Overseas. He also distinguished participants between ‘careerist’ and ‘non-careerist’ with each having their own space and approach.
The British Council has set out the following programme, summarised below:
- Provide support to individuals/ schools/profession
- Starting – Learning the principles – You’re studying for your initial certificate and planning your first job in English language teaching.
- Newly qualified –Putting principles into practice – You have an initial qualification and are in your first years of teaching, putting the principles you’ve learned on your course into practice.
- Developing – Building confidence and skills – You’re a TEFL i certificate qualified teacher with several years experience, possibly taking a TEFL Q qualification.
- Proficient – Demonstrating confidence, experience and reflection – You’re a TEFL Q Diploma qualified teacher.
- Advanced – Exemplifying good practice – You’re a highly experienced TEFL Q diploma qualified teacher who may be taking on further responsibilities and roles eg as a senior teacher or a mentor.
- Specialist – Leading and advising – You have taken on leading and advising roles, such as director of studies, teacher trainer, materials writer, inspector.
In a similar way, managers are given guidelines on assisting staff at different stages of development, as defined above.
The career pathway, as set out in the British Council’s Professional Development Framework, will be provided free of charge on the internet and is due to be launched in the next couple of weeks. It will be a useful tool for teachers and managers alike, and will allow us to keep track of ourselves and see where we are at and where we can go professionally. When it is published, I will add the link here, so do check back in a couple of weeks’ time for that.