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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 National University of Ireland Maynooth, five Education Centres and Dublin & Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board. There are 33 post-primary schools participating at present and there are plans to expand the Programme, especially in the Leinster region. .
Participants in the programme attend a series of CPD workshops in an Education Centre, or ETB venue, 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/DP) is a requirement of a school’s participation. Our research over the last decade has shown that this is crucial in cultivating the school’s strengths in educational leadership and self-evaluation. Schools are not charged 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.
This model of CPD has shown its strengths in the specific circumstances of Irish post-primary education. In recognition of this the DES has agreed to provide the necessary measure of funding to secure the programme’s place within the national provision of CPD.
The rationale for the TL21 Programme is closely related to the Teaching Council's policy on the Continuum of teacher education, particularly the CPD dimension of that policy. Participants in the university accreditation track of the programme pursue an M.Ed. in Innovative Learning. Those not following the university accreditation track have their participation documented electronically by the Education Centre or ETB. This makes that participation amenable to inclusion in the CPD portfolios recommended for each teacher in the Teaching Council's policy on the continuum.
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 leaderships.