The TL21 Professional Development Programme: Main Features
- The TL21 Programme is a workshop based CPD programme that promotes innovative practice and professional learning communities in post-primary schools. It arose from the success of the initiatives pioneered by the TL21 Research & Development project 2003-07 and the TL21 Transfer Initiative 2008-12 (both funded by Atlantic Philanthropies). It is currently running as a partnership between Maynooth University and 9 Education Support Centres. In the 2019-2021 cycle 70+ schools and 400+ teachers and senior school leaders were actively involved. A new cycle of the programme (2021-2023) will begin in September 2021 and will run in the following Education Support Centres: Blackrock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Dublin West, Drumcondra, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Monaghan, Navan, West Cork and Wexford.
- Participants in the programme attend a series of CPD workshops in an Education Support Centre, over a two-year period and progressively develop their capabilities as innovative practitioners over this period. From the start, the two major aims of the TL21 research have been: (a) to strengthen teachers’ capacities as co-operative and self-critical authors of their own work; (b) to enable students to take an active and responsible part in their own learning.
- The active involvement of the school leadership (Principal and/or DP) is a requirement of a school’s participation. Our research has consistently shown that this is crucial in cultivating the school’s strengths in educational leadership and self-evaluation.
- The programme is co-funded by the Department of Education, Maynooth University and the Education Support Centres. That means there is no charge to schools for participation.
- The research dimension of the TL21 model ensures that CPD for teachers is research-informed, as recommended by EU Commission and OECD; but research-informed in a highly practical sense. The programme brings together key insights from international educational research with the action research initiatives of Irish teachers and school leaders to enrich the quality of learning and teaching in participating schools.
- The DES commissioned an independent external review of the TL21 programme. Conducted by Professor Gary Granville the report Partners for Progress: A Review of Teaching and Learning for the 21st Century TL21 was published in June 2019. It highlighted the “demonstrable impact of TL21” and its “national and international significance … with implications for education practitioners, policy-makers and researchers in Ireland and elsewhere …”
- The TL21 programme aligns with the Teaching Council Cosán policy which offers an important supportive national framework that can further support and encourage teachers in this endeavour.
- This kind of model of CPD can be extended to other regions of the country, whether or not it’s called “TL21.” What is important is: (a) that the kind of expertise involved can be shared readily, and learned fairly quickly, by the providing institutions or bodies; (b) that emergent strategies for the crediting of more advanced forms of CPD can be identified and developed.
- Finally, the TL21 Programme seeks to embody and extend one of the central aims of the kind of research carried out at the Education Department at the National University of Ireland Maynooth: the enhancement of learning environments in schools through strengthening the capacities of teacher practitioners and school leadership.