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Find out about the post-16 workforce development project which began in January 2020 following the post-16 professional learning scoping study.

First published:
18 January 2023
Last updated:

About the study

The scoping study undertaken by ICF and Arad in 2019 was commissioned by the Welsh Government in order to better understand how professional learning could support the post-16 workforce to meet the challenges facing the sector. Its scope included further education, work-based learning and adult learning in Wales and made a number of recommendations.

In order to address these, the project has been broken down into 5 key areas of focus.

  1. Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
  2. Qualifications, Recruitment and Retention
  3. Professional Standards
  4. Understanding Skills Needs
  5. Professional Development Framework

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Much of the scoping study focused on the role of CPD. Whilst organisations should have autonomy over much of the CPD they offer to ensure it is focused on their specific business needs, there is the suggestion that there should be a ‘core programme’ of CPD for all staff.

CPD of post-16 practitioners is supported through the Professional Learning Fund (PLF). Since 2020 to 2021, £5m per academic year has been allocated to the PLF enabling colleges to build capacity through professional learning for staff involved in frontline teaching and learning, including teaching support. 

The funding provided aims to achieve a balance between recognising individual institutions’ needs and encouraging collaboration where there are opportunities for efficiencies and/or to produce approaches, resources and guidance that can benefit the whole sector. This will maximise the benefits of the investment and helps to avoid duplication and achieve consistency across the sector.

Qualifications, recruitment and retention

The study identified the following issues:

  • the large number of qualifications available for professionals within the sector to study
  • the lack of complete data on the current skills within the sector

We commissioned a review on reforming post-16 teacher training which made a number of recommendations.

Reforming initial teacher education should:

  • be a national, collaborative, evidence-informed and evaluative process
  • build on and strengthen partnerships that already exist. (Such as universities, further education institutions and other PCET providers). This will give trainees rich, diverse and high-quality teaching practice experiences. It will also give them mentor support.
  • provide a coherent and comprehensive PCET ITE curriculum. This should be linked to the professional standards, and a consistent award structure
  • prepare trainees to teach in a bilingual society
  • recognise and enhance professional status. It should prepare trainees for career-long professional learning and development
  • enhance PCET practitioners’ opportunities for career development. (Both within the PCET sectors and across the broader education system)

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Professional standards

The professional standards aim to promote the professionalism of further education and work-based learning practitioners in Wales. Their primary purpose is to support individuals in making the most of their personal professional learning and as a basis to inform professional learning needs analysis.

The Education Workforce Council (EWC) are taking forward further work on the standards, developing standards for leaders and support staff, and adult learning practitioners and mapping the use of the standards across the sector.

Understanding skills needs

To determine what recruitment policies are needed, what skills shortages the sector has, and what professional development is required, we needed a clearer idea of what the ‘ideal’ would be in terms of the different workers within the sector.

We asked Professor Bill Lucas to work with stakeholders from the sector to design a serious of ‘Silhouettes’ of roles within the sector. The EWC are now working with the HR Directors to determine how they can be used by the sector. The way they have been written provides a blueprint for several different roles (16 in total) within the sector which could be used for recruitment, professional development and career development,

EWC are developing case studies and supporting guidance for use of the tools. These will be published shortly.

Professional Learning & Development Framework

Much of the scoping study focused on the need for a Professional Learning Framework to bring the various different aspects of the sector together.

Each project we are undertaking will form the basis for a Professional Learning & Development Framework that will provide staff in the sector with the advice, guidance, and tools they need to continue their career development and progression.