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CHAPTER TWO : The British Teachers' Centre - Its Rise and Fall: A Review of the Literature

1.1 The Beginnings Of The Movement.
1.2 A Centre For Curriculum Development.
1.3 A Centre For Dissemination And Training.
1.4 The Functioning And Use Of Centres.
1.5 The Problems Of Assessing Teachers' Wants And Needs
1.6 Widening And Diversifying Of Services.
1.7 The Influence On Teachers' Centres Of Major Policy Changes
1.8 Evaluation Of Effectiveness.
1.9 Exploration Of The Issues Relating To Evaluation.

Genevieve Fairhurst

1.1 The Beginnings Of The Movement.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the first Teachers' Centres Britain were established. They began in response to particular developments at that time school curriculae and teacher training. The post-experience education of teachers, which had previously been the province of university education departments and colleges of education, began to expand and to diversify. Thornbury (1973) suggested one reason for this was that, after the war, traditional training institutions were more concerned to make education a 'respectable academic subject' than to address the real needs of classroom teachers. At the same time, the increasing initiatives curriculum innovation required the direct involvement of teachers (op.cit). The main impetus behind many of the first centres were the Nuffield Foundation's Science and Maths projects. Gough (1975: 11) identifies these projects as the 'catalyst for the tremendous growth centres the mid sixties'. He points out that 'one of the conditions for becoming a pilot area for the Junior Science and Mathematics projects' was that 'there should be a teachers' centre established' (ibid). Initially these single subject centres were used to disseminate project materials, and to coordinate teacher's comments and criticisms of these, based upon trials schools.

A number of other developments in education were happening at this time. There were major changes the education system and thus in the demands made on teachers and the school curriculum; changes which made curriculum reform essential. Thornbury (1973: 50) makes the point that 'the beginnings of the end of the 11 plus was leaving teachers with the feeling that much of the old stuff was obsolete and unintelligible'. He suggests that teachers wanted to teach something more 'relevant and palatable' but were unsure about what this ought to be. The introduction of CSE exams with their element of Teacher input was also noted by Thornbury (ibid) as an impetus to find somewhere for teachers to meet and develop ideas. Weindling et al (1983: 23) point out that teachers' centres were in a large part 'a response or reflection to' these far reaching changes affecting the education service at the time.

A growing interest in curriculum and professional development was identified by Morant (1978) as the driving force behind the founding of the Schools Council. In response to the raising of the school leaving age (ROSLA) in 1965, The Council in its second Working Paper, Working Paper 2, suggested the idea of founding centres where teachers could meet and look at the problems and implications and discuss strategies for ROSLA. They began to recommend the formation of centres to each local education authority. Gough (1975: 11) notes that between 1964 and 1974 teachers' centres increased 'from a handful to something over 600'. Curriculum development was the function the Schools Council clearly had in mind for these centres. In Working Paper 10 (1967), in which Weindling et al (1983: 27) say The Council threw its 'considerable weight behind the idea of local curriculum development and the need for centres where teachers could meet'. The Council explains its belief that part of its role was to make suggestions about how centres could best support local curriculum development groups. The hope is expressed that ' teachers will, more and more, meet groups to discuss curriculum problems and that local education authorities will do all that is practicable to encourage such groups'.

At this stage The Council began to move away from the practice of looking at isolated-subjects in specialist centres and moved towards the idea of addressing curriculum development generally in multi-purpose development centres (Gough 1975). They established a framework for such centres, the suggested professional aim being to enable studies by local teachers, possibly assisted by outside experts, of particular curricular areas and leading to the preparation of new course materials. Thornbury (1973) makes the point that their emphasis in such working groups was on the practical and realistic rather than the radical or ambitious. He also suggests that involvement in such groups gave teachers the feeling of being 'an expert in a small area' which he felt 'compensated for their lack of clear professional identity'.

The priorities and directions taken by these early centres reflected the orthodoxy in education at the time. There was a climate of freedom. Schools, and to some extent teachers, were allowed a considerable amount of autonomy over curriculum content and classroom practice. A mood of 'professional confidence' was noted by Thornbury (1973). This professionalism was an ill defined attribute, it implied the teacher had the skills to cope with a high level of decision making in the classroom. It embraced a wide and diffuse range of roles. However, when the School Council was established in 1964 with the purpose of preparing curriculum materials for the classroom it was stressed in the constitution that 'Teachers should be completely free to choose for themselves in curriculum matters,' and that any publications The Council produced 'would carry no authority' (cited in Thornbury op.cit p. 12).

1.2 A Centre For Curriculum Development.

1.2.1 Local groups

Weindling et al (1983: 9) in his 1979-81 survey found that the most common type of group found at the teachers' centres consisted of discussion groups for local teachers with similar curricular interests. The Plowden Report (vol 1: 359) gives its blessing to the idea of local teachers meeting together and suggests the benefit to teachers of opportunities 'to meet others who are a little ahead of themselves but whose practice is within their reach' (a condition for successful learning which is mentioned throughout the literature on achieving change in teaching). In a survey of wardens McKeegan (1974, cited in Gough 1975: 13) found that teachers' centre wardens 'saw themselves involved in curriculum development that was school based or individual teacher based, rather than involved in dissemination or modification of national projects - and preferred it that way'.

These local groups were set up in a variety of ways, sometimes by the teachers themselves, or by particular advisers or sometimes by subject associations. According to Weindling et al (1983), it became common for LEAs to produce sets of curriculum guidelines for their schools. The ideas for these were generated in the curriculum groups and then collated and edited by the advisory service. Each authority targeted the curricular subjects in different ways and most just issued the guidelines as LEA policy. There was little time and energy devoted to a dissemination stage, during which time teachers might develop the skills to use the ideas presented. Weindling et al (ibid.) found that some of the schools his sample felt overwhelmed by this sudden deluge of papers. One strategy to cope with it was to delegate teachers to certain curriculum areas and make them responsible for reporting back to the staff on the contents and implications of the guidelines. However, there was no prescribed or even widely agreed way for schools to make use of these documents.

1.2.2 Materials development.

The other type of group had a more ambitious intent. Their aim was to produce curriculum material for use in classrooms. It was found that this type of group required considerably more time and commitment from the teacher. Weindling et al (1983) found the work typically progressed through a number of stages: extensive discussion to define the task; delegation of different topics to different individuals or groups; thorough investigation often involving meetings with experts, visits, courses and exploration of existing materials; drafting by individuals; trialing; critical analysis by the group; editing by selected individuals and finally production. Weindling et al explain that in some cases the groups were also then involved disseminating the material (op.cit). This was done in a range of ways including teaching packs distributed to schools, short courses, conferences or exhibitions.

Weindling et al suggested that the quality of the materials these groups produced varied considerably (1983). Much of the work was done in teachers' own time, which obviously slowed the process down. However, some authorities found it was more effective to second teachers in the final stages so that they could concentrate on production of the final copy. Quality also varied according to the back-up facilities the centre was able to provide and this improved with time. Eventually some centres were producing materials of impressive quality and the process was seen as a very cost effective way of getting materials into the classroom (Weindling et al 1983). Weindling et al quote a similar study of curriculum material groups in America, in which McLaughlin (1976) claims that this process is also very good for a group member's sense of professionalism. They suggest that 'reinventing the wheel', which much of teacher produced materials do, appeared to be 'a critical part of the individual learning and development necessary for significant change' (Weindling et al op.cit p.74).

According to Thornbury (1973) this kind of group did run into a range of problems. Very few teachers felt able to give such long term commitment to this type and quantity of work on top of their normal job. As a result the membership was rather unrepresentative of the teaching body. Weindling et al (ibid.) found that many of the members of such groups were working hard at improving their own professional qualifications, and had already been involved a number of similar projects. Weindling et al do not comment on this, but involvement in either of these types of groups was probably very sensible for the career minded, in that it got one noticed by those with influence - head teachers, advisers and the centre warden. Also, many were primary head teachers most of whom had on-going close relationships with the centre and presumably more time to give to such projects. Weindling et al's survey found many instances where groups faced difficulties or collapsed when members left, or when poor leadership or group dynamics interfered with progress. Also, Gough pointed out that tinkering with the curriculum does not necessarily impinge on practice in the classroom. He claims that 'much of the "curriculum development" in this country....has little impact on classrooms' (1975: 13).

1.3 A Centre For Dissemination And Training.

Although curriculum development was often cited as the raison d'être of teachers' centres, and although, according to Weindling et al's survey (1983), some centre leaders considered that "courses" had little lasting effect on teachers, by 1970 a survey by the Schools Council found that in only a small number of centres was there any 'systematic local curriculum development', and that the time spent on schools council projects was insignificant (Thornbury pp27-28). Most teachers' centres were involved a wide range of other activities, according to Thornbury, 'meeting more fundamental needs'.

If the work of the two types of curriculum groups was to have any impact on what happened the classroom it became necessary to achieve effective dissemination of ideas to teachers. Often this took the form of short courses held at the teachers centre. Thornbury (1973: 29) saw this type of in-service training as the 'retail side' of curriculum development, involving the sale of 'the successful result to the consumer through courses'. He identified particular types of teachers' centres whose 'main purpose was to demonstrate the intimate connection between curriculum development and teacher education' (p.49).

The provision of in-service training for teachers increased dramatically the sixties and seventies, though Weindling et al noted that this happened 'without definition or agreement as to the aims of various providers' (1983: 23). Morant (1978: 200), suggested that the increasing involvement of teachers' centres in in-service training reflected among other things: the need, identified in a number of educational reports at the time as being 'increasingly articulated' by teachers, for convenient, practical, skills based courses; the lack of response to this 'urgent professional' need on the part of the university departments of education and the training colleges; and the influence of the University of London Institute of Education Teachers' Centre's involvement in inSET, 'that archetype of centres' (op.cit p199). Thornbury (1973) also mentions the finding from several surveys that initial training was not preparing teachers with skills needed for the classroom, and that teachers were dissatisfied with the standard and paucity of in-service courses, welcoming the opportunity to attend local courses with direct application to their teaching.

1.3.1 The pattern of development of centres.

Weindling et al's survey (1983) found that the pattern of development of a centre usually involved small beginnings with rapid increase personnel, facilities and equipment as inSET expanded. Morant (1978: 200) suggests that the rapid expansion of inSET in centres was facilitated by the fact that many LEAs gave the teachers, through steering committees, an 'extraordinary degree of map the advance of their own new centres.' Morant, Weindling et al and Thornbury all seem to imply that, though curriculum development was considered to be 'the higher ground' by the Schools Council and many centre leaders, teachers were more interested in practical courses which gave ideas and information about materials that could be applied to the real classroom situation. Thornbury rather cynically likening the situation to a Venus fly-trap, sees the courses as the scent and colour which 'lured teachers onto the sticky surface of curriculum development' (p. 29). The other significant boost to the expanding centres came from the Advisory Services who seized on the possibility of using convenient, centrally located centres for their inSET courses (Morant 1978).

1.4 The Functioning And Use Of Centres.

1.4.1 The centre warden

Looking more closely at the way teachers' centres functioned and at who was using them during the first fifteen years, it seems important to begin with the centre warden or leader. All the surveys and reviews of teachers' centres are quick to point out how vital this role was. Matthews (1973) goes as far as claiming a centre was only as good as its warden. This appointee was a new phenomena on the educational scene, neither adviser nor senior teacher nor LEA officer, and yet they had to be a little of all these things and more besides. Both Thornbury (1973: 28), who referred to them as 'dogs bodies with many talents', and Weindling et al (1983) found that centres relied heavily on the key role of the leader. Weindling et al's findings suggest that, from the LEA point of view, the leader needed to be a qualified teacher with considerable experience in a senior teaching position, have good organisational and administrative ability and the ability to establish good relationships with a wide range of people. Also, s/he needed to be resourceful, imaginative and with a good vision of educational trends and of developments in inSET. Teachers in Weindling's study added the requirements of energy, vitality and enthusiasm and a sense of humour. They thought wardens should keep up with research and be able to disseminate relevant findings to the teaching force. They wanted tact, diplomacy and the ability to work with a range of people from different occupational backgrounds and from different levels in the educational hierarchy. The head teachers were concerned that wardens should have sufficient status to relate as equals to advisers and head teachers. From my experience as a teacher in those days, in the larger centres they certainly became men of high status. According to Thornbury (ibid.), although leaders lamented the fact that their career path was very unclear they did develop a wide range of skills and for the most part possessed and emanated amazing enthusiasm for the cause of teacher "education".

The job description was similarly all encompassing. Some of the head teachers in Weindling et al's (1983) sample identified it as one of the most difficult jobs in education, because not only was a warden expected to be 'a jack of all trades', they were also working in isolation from anyone else doing a similar job. The job was not very clearly defined, though according to Thornbury (1973) it was important that it should be seen as something distinct from any other positions in education. Weindling et al (ibid.) analysed a number of job advertisements and found that the main roles were seen as:

1. Responsibility for the management of the centre and the day to day running. - What this meant seemed to vary depending on how well resourced and staffed the centre was. It ranged from difficult cerebral problems like guiding a steering committee to make long range, well considered plans for the future to more practical issues like 'washing up the cups and saucers' (Thornbury ibid. p.28)

2. Encouraging curriculum development - Thornbury identifies this as the 'real' concern, although when he quotes findings from a 1972, NUT survey of teachers' centres he says wardens placed 'administration of courses' as their most important responsibility with curriculum development second.

3. Organizing inSET.

4. Responding to teachers needs - Weindling et al report apparent disagreement between LEA officers and wardens regarding how this might be best achieved. The wardens seemed to feel they should spend more time in schools talking to teachers, a view also reflected in some of the teachers' comments, while the LEA officers tended to regard the schools as their domain.

5. Working with the centre committee.-

6. Liaising and cooperating with the advisory team.

Weindling et al found that wardens believed they had a major responsibility to teachers. They felt their freedom to operate and their 'entrepreneurial' role were both important to this. Besides their work to identify and respond to needs, wardens also found it necessary to initiate ideas of their own on inSET and curriculum development, because they found that teachers can find it very difficult to recognise and articulate their own needs. They also found a role as adviser and consultant to heads and teachers, finding themselves acting as a channel of communication between teachers, LEAs and other inSET providers. Added to this were 'providing services and resources for teachers', a duty to ensure a neutral ground for meetings between various groups.

This multifaceted role was difficult to define. Interestingly, at this stage the life of teachers' centres, very few of Weindling et al's sample of wardens saw their role as including the support of local involvement national curriculum projects, which was the starting point of many centres, or involvement school based and school-focused inSET, which was to be identified as increasingly important the following years. However, one leader the study, very much the tradition of professional development and education rather than taking the narrower view of training, said that leaders acted 'as a stimulus to make teachers think for themselves, to make them aware of a range of possibilities and to make them responsible for their own needs' (p.84).

Besides problems of career prospects and what many leaders, according to the NUT survey (Thornbury 1973: 42), saw as a 'derisory', insulting salary, problems were also identified by both Weindling et al (1983) and Thornbury regarding who controlled the centres. Pollard (1970), quoted by Thornbury (p27), states with force that teachers' centres had been 'virtually taken over by the local education authority inspectorate'. He claimed that both 'the wardens and the committees of teachers and stool-pigeons' sought permission for everything. In Weindling et al's (ibid.) sample, many of the wardens and LEAs claimed to work closely and harmoniously together and stressed the importance of this being so. Some centres believed they were 'an integral part of the advisory service' whilst others preferred to maintain 'a degree of independence'(p. 111). However, others suggested that the advisory staff dominated the centres, deciding on the inSET programme, while the teachers' centre just provided the accommodation. A few mentioned liaison problems and even conflict with advisory officers. One leader is quoted as saying 'When advisers and the teachers' centre cooperate results are magnificent. When cooperation is not present progress is very difficult' (p. 112). Two points that emerge from this survey which are likely to influence effectiveness are: the critical role of advisers in most centres (in some they even held the budget for inSET), and how much variation there is between centres both in terms of management and of LEA involvement. The ad hoc growth of individual centres had resulted in no real common structure or level of autonomy.

A further problem discussed at the time was where wardens were supposed to get the skills and knowledge for the job, particularly regarding curriculum development. Greenwood (1973: 92) argues that if centres were supposed 'to bring about change rather than continuity' the wardens needed to be given the skills and knowledge to help them to become effective; knowledge which included 'how groups function,...of current educational thinking and practice, together with some understanding as to what curriculum development might be all about'.

As there was no specific qualification for the position of centre warden, training was only undertaken after accepting the job. Weindling et al (1983) found that in training courses new wardens, like teachers, wanted practical tips on how to organise a centre. He identifies a number of courses and conferences organised by the Schools Council and the NCTCL (National Conference of Teachers' Centre Leaders) which wardens found to be useful as opportunities for meeting other leaders and discussing issues in common. The courses, run by the DES and colleges, or which related to general management, were found to be difficult to extrapolate from or not really relevant. Possibly the most useful support for wardens was found to be local groups of wardens meeting together. These meetings 'provided mutual support to leaders who perceived themselves as somewhat professionally isolated by the unusual nature of their job' (op.cit p.81). Specific 'training' for the work done by a warden was said by a few to be impossible to provide. It seemed to be a job in which each warden had to carve out their own niche and be adept at getting fingers in pies.

1.4.2 The centre clientele

As regards use of the centres at this time, Weindling et al (1983: 120) give quite a thorough analysis of who was using the centre and why. In their survey he found that the majority of teachers had used their local centre at some time but only about half used it on a regular basis and that they used it for a range of reasons. Primary teachers used them more than secondary teachers, men more than women and senior teachers more than lower grades. The amount of use possibly reflects the usefulness of attendance on courses to one's career. Weindling et al suggest that male teachers, especially at primary level, may have been particularly influenced by this relationship. Job application forms at the time certainly asked one to state the number of courses "recently" attended.

When asked to give reasons for not using the centre the problem of other commitments on time was cited more often than the feeling that the courses and activities at the centre were not relevant. This latter reason was mentioned as often as was obtaining release from school by primary teachers. Thornbury (1973) points out that when teachers' centres began to expand there were surplus teachers available to cover for inSET. However, this situation did not last long, and in the 1970s Weindling et al note that the staffing situation had become relatively static. The survey did find that 43% of the teachers had attended other forms of in-service other than that provided by their local centre.

When asked to comment on their centre or in-service education generally, most teachers were very positive about the services offered by the centre and many thought that inSET was 'valuable in order to keep up to date, refresh ideas and stop stagnation'. Teachers were not happy with the amount of in-service activities provided by the LEAs or with the timing of most activities, two thirds of which were found to happen after school time. However, they did recognise the problem of finding cover for attendance at day time courses and many felt the necessary supply cover was not provided by the LEA. In a survey by Bradley et al (1974: 44), in Nottingham, it was found that 'surprisingly few teachers appeared interested in joining a small discussion group' with clear aims to look at specific areas of teaching, devise methods appropriate to the context, experiment and finally evaluate the result. However, the authors fail to explain why they expected greater involvement in such time consuming, dedicated work on the part of full time teachers. They also found that teachers tended to see 'the content of in-service education as something functionally related to their daily professional task' with many still feeling 'the need for what might be termed the "bread and butter" type activities which can be related easily with the classroom situation and to which they can be directly transferred'(ibid).

When Weindling et al's (1983) survey tried to find school factors which might influence teachers' involvement with centres they found that the head teacher was a key factor, particularly in primary school. In schools where a staff had a high level of involvement in the centre the head teacher was found to have a positive attitude to the centre, to the centre leader and to inSET in general. They were also often found to be 'directly involved in the centre' either in a managerial or course leadership role. The centre wardens, when discussing the difficulty of communicating effectively with schools, particularly mentioned the important role head teachers had in 'alerting teachers to centre activities'. Keen head teachers were found to read through centre schedules and point out particular activities which might (or should) be of interest to particular teachers on the staff. They very rarely refused day release for courses and often covered personally for teachers who were attending teachers' centre activities. It was also noticeable that these heads placed great importance on regularly discussing curriculum matters with the staff and had given posts of responsibility for particular curricular areas.

1.5 The Problems Of Assessing Teachers' Wants And Needs

Teachers' centres were supposed to have a major role in addressing teachers' needs. However, most writers comment on the problems associated with analysis of such needs. Lee (1997: 16) found "needs", in this context, described by Reti (1980) as 'the vaguest and most loosely used of expressions'. Weindling et al's survey (1983) found that although teachers' centres were trying to address needs, it was very difficult to actually establish what these were. It found that various methods were used: sending questionnaires to the schools, setting up systems of teacher representatives, using information the LEA advisers picked up on visits to schools and from their 'teacher groups' and through the warden talking informally with teachers who were attending activities at the centre. However, no one method was found to be reliably successful. Wilson and Easen (1995) point out that teachers' needs were not always 'self-evident' in the way it is often assumed.

Several writers also discuss the difference between teachers' perceived needs or 'wants' and what are found by outside agents to be their 'actual needs'. Kinder and Harland (1991), reporting on a scheme which involved advisory teachers, found that different parties in the scheme were working to different goals and this was partly because the 'real needs' of the teachers were not 'synonymous with teacher-only perceptions of "wants'". Henderson (1976: 10), looking at outcomes of in-service training, found that teachers who were attending the courses investigated had very diverse 'perceived professional needs' which tended to relate more to the school in which they were working than to any personal characteristics. However, it was found that what these teachers actually gained from the course was different to what they had expected, in that it often did not relate to the needs they had identified in advance. Henderson suggests that 'certain types of inSET may, therefore, in themselves assist teachers to identify needs', which he says 'calls into question the proposition that in-service training should be primarily a teacher-centred, problem-solving exercise'. Kinder and Harland (1991: 45) similarly found that, although teachers expressed wants, many of them were not aware of real needs 'until the advisory teacher and the scheme opened up their eyes to the new possibilities'.

The process of needs analysis assumes that teachers have needs or wants which they will readily express in response to probes such as questionnaires. In Kinder and Harland's (1991) study some teachers were unable, or reluctant, to express either needs or even wants. In circumstances where teachers have established a routine which they feel secure with; teaching the same subject or level for several years and using the same materials, perhaps with other priorities for their attention and time, it seems quite likely that they might be blind to a range of needs which experts from outside of the school would immediately seize on. Lee (1997: 280) found that a number of writers commented on the reaction of teachers to needs analysis. Williams (1991) claims that it cannot be thought of as a 'neutral' activity while Nixon (1989) sees it as possibly being 'extremely threatening'. Some teachers may see expressing needs as an admission of failings and feel concerned that the process involves loss of face. According to Williams (op.cit), it might even be used 'as a backdoor method of staff appraisal', particularly where senior management at a school or where LEA advisers are party to the process (Maclure 1989).

Gough (1997) claims that from the late 1970s there has been considerable debate about the issue of needs and its influence on training. Although the teachers' needs were said to be the focus of attention at the teachers' centre, the DES also had needs, as did the LEAs and the schools. Gough observes that needs will depend on who defines them, while Lee (1997) also notes the relevance of the context in which they are defined, particularly if this involves the imposition of a major educational reform. Lee claims that by the early 1980s it was becoming evident that 'LEAs would tend to give priority (and hence resources) to those things which were likely to meet "their" needs; similarly central government was beginning to designate educational areas for which particular "training grants" would be made available. Teachers' needs were increasingly being identified from above rather than below which was to have major implications for the survival of teachers' centres.

A further area identified as problematic was how teachers could disseminate information gathered from activities at teachers' centres to other colleagues back at school. Weindling et al's research confirmed other findings that 'the most difficult inSET stages were the initial problems of diagnosis and the later dissemination and implementation stages'. It also found that 'most of the centre leaders' time and effort was devoted to the organisation of courses and other activities rather than the beginning and end of the inSET sequence' (pi 48).

1.6 Widening And Diversifying Of Services.

Once teachers centres were in place they were in an ideal position to diversify and adapt in response to a range of developments. Weindling et al give the examples of teachers' centres being ideal venues for LEA's reactions to the recommendations of various government reports (1983). They were also able to encourage teachers to find out about and make use of major developments technology at the time. These included the advent of video and the computer.

In the early 1970s, teachers centres began to be seen as useful locations for resource collections. As a result of the growing idea of producing cost effective materials for schools, they also began to house production and reproduction faculties. Thornbury (1973: 5) points out that a wide range of reading schemes and course and idea books began to 'pour' into schools and that a widening range of audio visual aids became available. It was good for teachers to be able to examine and possibly be advised on how to use such materials before deciding whether to order them. Thornbury suggests this would avoid unsuitable material finding it way into the classroom only to be left to gather dust in the stock cupboard. Weindling et al (1983) found that, while most centres had a range of resources and equipment that teachers could borrow at the centre, centres were also used as showplaces by educational publishers and manufacturers of audio visual and reprographic equipment. Several of the centre leaders in their study felt that 'exhibitions and the use of centre services' was an important way of getting teachers into the centre. Once there they found that teachers became interested in other things that were happening - further Venus fly trapping! Many of the heads felt that the centres' resources and loan of equipment service was very beneficial for schools. Primary schools were found to make more use of these facilities than the usually better equipped secondary schools.

By the end of the 1970s, teachers centres were offering a wide range of services, and reacting rapidly and often creatively to demands. In fact, being real opportunists, teachers' centres began to take on so many roles that it was increasingly difficult to define them. Centres grew on an ad hoc basis and displayed little uniformity. Weindling et al quote one centre describing its development as 'partly historical accident, partly entrepreneurial, partly taking advantage of the availability of staff and buildings, partly LEA planned response to curriculum and inSET need and partly organised teacher association contribution to the professional work of teachers, all within the constraints of available resources' (op.cit).

However, change was on the horizon. Although the James Report in 1972 and the White Paper which followed had both recommended a major expansion in inSET, Weindling et al (op.cit p.28) point out that this was 'never fully realised'. They suggest that cuts in education began to seriously affect teachers centres and closures began in the early eighties. Morant looking ahead in 1978 believed that 'general purpose teachers' centres were not going to acquire additional resources on the scale enabling them to become fully and effectively, on the one hand in-service providers and on the other change agents for curriculum development' (p203). He suggested, particularly regarding small rural multipurpose centres, that 'it is uncertain whether survival in their present form can be justified on educational or economic grounds'. Thornbury (1973: 141) looking ahead in 1973, in the light of the James Report, senses that 'new mechanisms for turning the classroom teacher into an automaton are to hand'. He suggests that 'an insidious spread of centralised curriculum could now be pushed into schools under the masquerade of inspecting what teachers have learned on courses' (ibid.).

1.7 The Influence On Teachers' Centres Of Major Policy Changes

In the 1980s, at the same time as a number of surveys had been set up to evaluate a whole range of aspects of the teachers' centre and in-service education in general, major policy changes by central government began to change the climate in which both teachers' centres and inSET were operating. (Kinder and Harland 1991) Lee identifies it as a decade in which 'educational reform has dominated educational policy'. (1997: 12) A national curriculum was proposed, dreaded, piloted and then 'imposed' by the 1988 education act. This included new forms of assessment for pupils at seven, eleven and fourteen, with league tables published, supposedly to make schools more accountable for what they did and give parents more choice. Schools were to receive the majority of their budgets directly (LMS - Local Management of Schools) and this included a portion delegated for in-service training. Initially LEAs could decide how much of the inSET budget to delegate. In the 1992 Education Act, a national framework for the provision of inspection services was introduced to replace the traditional government inspectors. Schools were to be inspected regularly and the inspection reports were to be made public.

The 'centralisation of the power to define and control the priorities' of inSET by the use of grants from central government was introduced in 1986 (Harland et al 1993: 4). The nature of these grants changed quite frequently 'with little advance warning' (Harland and Kinder (1992: 25). In the beginning there was provision for local initiatives by the LEAs in conjunction with schools but later, I understand that these grants could only be used for training in areas which the government specified, with schools also receiving a 'delegated' amount for inSET in their budget. The first type of grant was called GRIST-Grant Related In-service Training, the present one is GEST -Grants for Education Support and Training. Teachers were contracted to spend five days each year on professional development.

1.7.1 Changes in the education service.

All of these initiatives were forcing changes at every level of the education service. However, Harland et al (1993) point to the contrast between the various reforms for education in schools and the continuing absence of a coherent national strategy to give a framework for inSET. They do not mention it, but there does not seem to have been a clear role in these reforms for teachers' centres either. Without 'sustained policies within a predictable structure' Harland et al feel: that the new inspection and appraisal system lacks the necessary support; that teachers, particularly in the primary sector, where each teacher had to come to grips with all the new curriculum subjects, would lack consistent and coordinated training for the new, and then later the revised, curriculum documents; and that the private sector involvement in training envisioned by government was envisioning, and school spending on training, would be very difficult to monitor and evaluate (p1). LEA advisors felt that the nature of discreet short term grants, with frequent changes of focus, made it difficult for schools to plan for, and for agencies to deliver efficient and effective inSET (Harland and Kinder 1992).

As the moves towards centralising control of curriculum came onto the horizon, several writers in the early 80s began to worry about the threat to the notion of 'professionalism' in teaching. Taylor's suspicion (1980: 336), that when concern about cost effectiveness and accountability of in-service provision are considered, authorities are likely to be inclined to be more direct and prescriptive about the 'direction of professional development activities', and that investment in a more systematic and itemisable 'training' was becoming horribly true. Dadds (1997: 32) regrets the type of training which she believes has emerged from the major educational changes of the decade. The 'delivery' or 'empty vessel' model of inSET she believes has treated teachers as technicians and failed to acknowledge the 'crucial role of teachers' understandings about, and experiences of, children'. Kirk (1992: 141) notes the way many writers felt the initiatives "de-skilled teachers", 'whose task is simply to implement government inspired or government-controlled curriculum plans'.

This view is tempered by other writers however, who make the point that class teaching, by its very nature can not be completely prescribed from above. Kirk argues that the interpretation of national aims and the transference of curriculum packages into the classroom still 'requires an extremely diverse range of professional judgments', (ibid) This view which was also taken by Gough (1989: 52) who claimed that 'no matter how centralised the decision making, and the apparent rigidities imposed upon teachers, there is - usually - considerable room for maneuver'. Kirk (op.cit) points out that schemes published for teachers were still regarded as resources not courses, and that teachers were fact criticised by OFSTED for letting schemes influence their teaching too much.

1.7.2 Changes in approaches to in-service training.

In a study of factors that bring about change in the classroom, English (1995) came to the general conclusion that external factors such as national curriculum and exam boards are more significant in bringing about change than is in-service training. He found that the teachers in his sample identified the national curriculum and all its associated assessment procedures as being the single most important factor in bringing about change in their classes, with commercial schemes also bringing about considerable pressure, particularly in secondary schools. InSet in fact was quite low down on their list.

However, although inSET was not found to initiate change, when the avalanche of change arrived, provoked by a range of other factors, the changes certainly created the need for rapid and effective dissemination and training. Kirk (1992: 140) notes that many of the changes could not be effected 'without significant adjustments in the ways in which teachers discharge their professional responsibilities: no curriculum development without teacher development'.

The need for a modified approach to in-service education, at a time when less central funding was available, was found to bring with it a number of problems. Lee (1997: 15) points out that one of the major problems of the more recent curriculum changes, and the system reforms that have taken place, has been the lack of financial support to match the recognition of the importance of in-service education and training to support these developments. The availability of GRIST money, to buy in supply cover for teachers on courses, temporarily resulted in an upsurge in the demand for inSET. The emphasis, however, was on whole staff rather than on individual teachers. Morrison et al (1989: 159) note the 'burgeoning field of externally-led, school-focused in-service courses'. Phipps (1994) claims that individual teacher education had been pushed into the background as schools respond to DFE requirements. Emphasis has shifted to institutional rather than individual needs.

The increase in demand and the change of emphasis for inSET seemed to place too great a burden on teachers' centres. Alternative approaches to training began to be employed. Cascade approaches gained popularity. In the past the amount of feedback to schools from teachers who had attended courses was found to be very 'patchy'. According to Henderson (1977) feedback mechanisms rarely existed. He found feedback tended to be more systematic, and influential to staff behaviour when more than one teacher from a school had attended a course and in particular where the head also attended the course or actively promoted feedback from their staff.

Writing 1989, Morrison et al suggest that the cascade model of training had been found to be a successful way of very quickly training teachers in the use of new curriculum innovations, though they add the proviso 'provided that certain conditions are met' (p.159). They evaluate an externally led course, which was 'complemented and informed' by on-going school based development. They believe that this type of cascaded course, normally involving passive receipt of a 'diet of prescriptions and received wisdoms', could not on its own provide solutions to the implementation of new curriculum. However, if there is provision for 'an admixture of input and discussion, corporate planning, the sharing of experience and the planning of proposals' there is more likelihood of success (ibid). They do acknowledge that there are problems with this model of training and their cascade model is tremendously complex.

A further approach which seems to have been adopted by many LEAs was the appointment of advisory teachers. Stanton 1990 found that the number of advisory teachers had increased and that most of the new appointments were connected with the new education initiatives. He quotes Stillman and Grant's (1989) belief that LEAs saw them as 'an economical way of rapidly promoting change' (op.cit p.53).

One big problem identified with this teacher advisory approach to training, was that the intended continued development did not take place once the advisory teacher no longer worked the school. In the project evaluated by Kinder and Harland (1991), after the teacher advisors had run what seemed to be effective school based courses, the schools were supposed to sustain the project for themselves. They found that schools did not appear to have the time, the resources, the cultural climate or the expertise in delivery of inSET to take up the baton from the advisory teacher. A high school inSET coordinator we interviewed, identified similar problems inhibiting his staff. Phipps also found that the one intensive week of demonstrations in a completely new approach to inSET and teaching was not sufficient. He felt it needed continued follow up. He found that what actually happened after the consultant has left the school depended greatly on the senior management team in school (1994).

With the move to LMS the schools could buy in training from an increasing range of sources. However, they found it increasingly difficult to manage their finances. In a survey of how primary schools used their 'Baker Days', as the training days were called, Newton and Newton (cited in Kirk 1992) found that most of the time available was spent on planning and preparation for work in the classroom, with less than one day being spent on developing knowledge and skills. One-quarter of this was spent on concerns about OFSTED and one-half on an some aspect of the national curriculum. An inSET coordinator from one large high school said that this pattern was also true of his school. He claimed that, while it probably was not strictly what the days had been established for, 'custom and practice' had gradually taken over. He explained that schools still received grants for staff training but government specifies the focus for this training, and this money (GEST) cannot be used for anything else. Last year's focus was school effectiveness. However, the money which is delegated for inSET in the school budget from the LEA can be used for other expenditures. He claimed that his school had not used any of this money for inSET in the last three years; that it had always been used for more pressing and essential things. He maintained that although the teachers' centre still advertised courses these were often canceled because of low up-take.

Many teachers' centres have now closed. In some LEAs training centres have been established e.g. the Heath Training and Development Centre in Calderdale. The emphasis at this centre is on training and this is training for a wider clientele than just teachers. As it can include support and clerical staff, lunch time supervisors and any one else involved with schools, it certainly is not of and for the teacher anymore. Like other centres in Yorkshire, it serves a very wide area and so can not really be considered 'local'. Rather than there being a 'Jack of all trades' warden, the inSET is organised and coordinated by one of the senior advisers, and the advisory team is based there. It does not house any sort of resource centre for teachers.

1.8 Evaluation Of Effectiveness.

1.8.1 Apparent success.

Teachers' centres expanded and proliferated and gave the appearance, it seems of working well. Thornbury (1973: 1-2) claims that 'the idea was so psychologically sound that it is a puzzle to know why they have not dotted the educational landscape for decades.' He suggests they 'met the felt needs of teachers and show the futility of attempting educational reform without teachers being directly and importantly involved'. He believed that they had achieved a 'silent educational revolution' (ibid). Weindling et al (1983: 153) felt that centres could 'fulfill an important role in supporting the professional development of teachers and providing an environment in which teachers feel able to make a critical analysis of their teaching.' They both found that teachers' centres had become important and sometimes major providers of in-service education, and that teachers' comments were overwhelmingly in favour of them. Weindling et al note that in 1982, at a time when 'every aspect of local authority expenditure' was being scrutinised, almost nine out of ten centres was still receiving the support of LEAs because they claim they 'provide professional support for substantial numbers of teachers at relatively low cost' (p149).

Commentators at the time attributed a number of strengths and advantages to the teachers' centre phenomenon. While Gough (1974: 12) emphasised that the contribution teachers' centres made to inSET should only be seen as complementary to that provided elsewhere, he did attribute certain 'unique qualities' to teachers' centres. He highlights their local nature, the freedom they provide from the normal hierarchies of school or local authority systems and the 'tendency they have to involve the teachers themselves in the decision making, the design and the implementation of their in-service programmes'. He claims they are characterised by being both accessible and acceptable. Newman et al (1981) pointed to the advantages teachers' centres had of offering opportunities for:

a. the diagnosis and provision of inSET which was local in nature,
b. swift response to needs,
c. a secure environment,
d. professional esteem - arising from a sense of involvement. (cited Gough 1989: 51)
The following strengths of teacher's centres were considered as well known by Morant (p.202):
1. Teachers' centres are accessible geographically to many teachers.
2. Control by teachers is exercised through teacher-dominated steering committees.
3. Short term professional needs of teachers can be responded to rapidly by teachers' centres.
4. Teachers' centre premises provide a neutral meeting ground for teachers, advisers and other members of the education service.
5. Wardens of teachers' centres are able to draw on the expertise of tutors selected for their subject or interest skill or knowledge, rather than because of their institutional background.
1.8.2 Need for more stringent criteria.

However, these assessments were mainly based on the views of three wardens of teachers' centres who had written quite extensively on the subject, Thornbury (1973), Kahn (1976) and Gough (1975). Thornbury fact makes the point that during the rapid expansion of teachers' centres, actively encouraged by the Schools Council, the evaluation of success seemed to involve 'the click of the turnstile' more than anything else. This was not a very illuminating criteria. Thornbury suggested that a 'concept' like 'teachers' centre' needed to be evaluated more critically than it had been so far, by looking to schools to identify any impact.

Bolam (1980: 95) claims the increased interest and commitment to inSET was 'to a worrying extent, built on an act of faith'. Henderson (1977: 4) points out that James admitted that his belief the effectiveness of in-service education had to be something of 'an act of faith' because 'surprisingly little hard information exists as to what effect various kinds of post-experience training actually have on teaching and the teacher'. The seemingly widely accepted assumption that the new methods being advocated by teachers centres would be effective because they 'accorded with current notions of good practice' was criticised by Topping and Brindle (1978), who believed that 'observable and measurable changes the children are the crucial criteria of the effectiveness of an in-service course'. Natham (1990) in particular notes the lack of systematic monitoring or evaluation of the effectiveness inSET prior to 1987; an effectiveness which was likely to be limited anyway by the facts that in-service in the 1970s was uncoordinated, and that it was left to individuals to 'undertake some form of education that might influence their teaching or enhance their prospects of promotion' (Lee 1997: 9). As Milroy (1974: 35) concludes 'all in-service could be said to be desirable but it was more difficult to assess its real impact not only on the individual teacher but on the quality of education'.

1.8.3 Increased interest in evaluation

Attention began to focus increasingly on evaluation from the late 1970s. This can clearly be seen from the growing number of articles the British Journal of In-service Education the 1980s, which reported the evaluation of various aspects of teacher education. The purpose of much of the early evaluation, mainly carried out by teachers' centre leaders or course directors, was to look at how courses could be modified for use with future groups. Some studies did also look at the long term effectiveness provided by in-service education though Henderson (1977: 5) points to the often subjective nature of such evaluation which generally lacked clear objectives and 'appropriate judgmental criteria'. (Interestingly, however, despite the many claims for its 'importance', the impact of local curriculum development does not seem to have been thoroughly investigated.)

By the end of the eighties research into the effectiveness of inSET was gathering 'momentum'. According to Kinder and Harland (1991: 2) this was mainly response to new funding and to requests for such lines of enquiry from the DES. The call for more thorough investigation into the effectiveness of inSET probably reflected as much as anything the cuts in education at the time, a factor which was noted as influential by all the studies mentioned here. Topping and Brindle (1978) point out that 'as purse strings tightened' it had become more necessary to question the effectiveness of inSET activities. According to Henderson (1977) economic factors suddenly 'required administrators, at both DES and LEA levels, to ask more searching questions about "value for money'". Milroy (1974) suggests that a more coherent policy was necessary, the ad hoc growth of in-service and teachers' centres had to be made more cost effective and coordinated and had to relate more effectively to a range of specific needs. If money was to be spent on educating teachers it had to be money well spent.

1.8.4 Problems related to assessing effectiveness.

Kinder and Harland (1991) attribute the lack of evaluation studies before this time to the constraints of time, money and probably most importantly the very real problem of the technical difficulties associated with attempting to identify the impact of particular strategies on classrooms. In a study by Bolem (1981 cited in Bolam 1983) into the effectiveness of inSET in OECD countries, he points out that this type of research is generally inconclusive for a number reasons. One major difficulty is the problem of finding an appropriate methodology which would give reliable information on the impact of courses on teacher behaviour and, even more problematic, which would identify change in student behaviour directly attributable to a particular experience of teacher education. English (1995: 295) asserted that ' the notion of attributing changes in classroom practice to in-service training activities in the past is fraught with difficulties regardless of the investigative approach that is adopted. '

1.9 Exploration Of The Issues Relating To Evaluation.

1.9.1 Professional development or teacher training.

The problems with how to evaluate inSET lead researchers to explore a range" of questions which are probably helpful in considering the general nature and usefulness of teachers' centres. One aspect looked at was the nature of inSET, whether it was more effective to provide teachers with 'education' so that they developed professional skills, or whether 'training' was needed to help them to master particular classroom practices or the use of specific curriculum materials. It was generally felt by those in the teachers' centre movement that professional development was essential for effective teaching (Kahn 1984) and that this required a much wider knowledge base than simple 'training' could provide. The use of the word "education" rather than "training" in the title of the NCTCL journal reflects their belief that training is only one part of teacher education (Lee 1997).

Looking to the teacher, Taylor (1980: 338) speaks strongly of 'professional responsibility' and suggests that all types of training and study experiences would be useless if the individual teacher did not feel committed to professional growth (p.336). He believed that if teacher education could 'establish, maintain and enhance' such a commitment, teachers would be able to make use of, and compensate for any gaps or deficiencies available resources ways 'that have favourable outcomes for student learning in the classroom'. Each teacher would need to use 'all means available to become a better-educated person, to develop judgments and skills and to keep in touch with ideas and innovations his or her own cognate fields'(p.337). Dadds (1997: 33) also discusses the importance of professional responsibility and defines it as nurturing within oneself 'inner wisdom and critical judgment about what can be provided for each child in each situation'. She sees the theories and methods provided by 'experts' only as 'supportive resources' (p.34).

The aims of the providers of inSET are seen as indicators of their beliefs about the professional nature of teaching. Dadds (1997) analyses the attitudes of teacher educators and criticises those who believe that teachers, who work so closely with children, ' should have their thinking about the nature of good practice arranged for them by those outside schools'. While she asserts that 'it cannot be the best interests of our children to be educated by teachers whose intellect and professionalism are viewed in this way', she maintains that 'professional development based on the cultivation of informed understanding, judgment and "voice" can help to counteract the more obvious failings of the worst delivery models'. She suggests achieving professional development through inSET courses by asking teachers to reflect on their own experiences and by nurturing a belief themselves as 'potential experts'.

Though "reflection", (Schon 1983), as a general approach to post-experience education has wide acceptance, Lee (1997: 11) notes, in his survey of research into the development of inSET, that there is no 'clearly articulated and agreed concept of teacher development' available. Judge (1980: 340), investigating the validity that teaching can claim to be a 'profession', also points out that there has never been a 'universally recognised pattern of education and training' for the "profession" nor has there been agreement about the 'necessary' content of such training. Chambers (1977: 93) claims 'there are as many variants in interpretation as to the role and significance attached to "inSET" as there are people taking part in the discussions'. He particularly notes the difficulty of distinguishing between the training and educative aspects of inSET. This lack of clarity makes it difficult to assess how effectively teachers' centres can achieve the aims of developing teachers as professionals rather than, as Dadds sees the alternative, 'the uncritical implementers of outside policies' (1997: 32).

The notion of teaching being a profession has lead to considerable debate over the years with implications for training. Judge (ibid) is rather circumspect about the idea of teachers' professionalism. He points out that teaching unlike other professions is a 'mass profession', that it is performed by 'an embarrassingly wide range of practitioners approaching the task with different assumptions, intentions, intellectual equipment and qualifications'. When answering questionnaires about what they felt they needed most from teachers' centres or inSET, a fairly large proportion of teachers seem to reliably plump for courses which provide ideas which are immediately applicable to their teaching. Bradley, Rood and Padfield (1974: 44) found that, while there had been an increase in the number of teachers interested in some form of curriculum development work at the teachers' centre, many of the teachers in their survey still wanted 'bread and butter activities' which could be 'related easily with the classroom situation and to which they (could) be directly transferred'. In the Bristol 'SITE' project, reported by Bolem (1983: 16), it was found that 40% claimed they attended in-service courses to improve professional knowledge while 21% wanted to improve their teaching.

1.9.2 Selecting effective training methods.

The question of which methods of teacher education were effective in the long term was also perceived as very pertinent. From his survey of evaluation outcomes, Henderson (1977: 4) felt trainers 'would like to be able to identify the formats and techniques which were most appropriate and effective in specific situations'. As mentioned above, many of the early writers claimed that involvement in curriculum development, even if this meant 're-inventing the wheel', was the most effective way of improving teaching. However, Richards (1972: 31) questions whether, primary teachers at least, really got very far 'with defining new objectives of their own, devising their own experimental procedures or developing their own mini curricula' the way Schools Council Working Paper 10 suggested they should. He feels that the Schools Council greatly underestimated the 'complexities of local curriculum development'. He maintains that good teaching is 'largely intuitive' while 'teasing out the underlying rationale of good practice, formulating it for others to try out and then evaluating it in a wider setting are very difficult procedures, calling for much expert help and entailing far more time and effort than the vast majority of teachers can reasonably expend'.

Weindling et al's finding (1983) that this kind of involvement in curriculum work only reached a small number of teachers. Lee (1997) asserts that the national projects which were developing curriculum during the 1960s and early 1970s did not have significant effects on teaching. It therefore seems likely, as Richards implies, that however much the curriculum developers got out of the experience and however good the materials were that they produced, this type of professional development through involvement with curriculum development, as organised at the centres, was never going to be influential enough to have widespread and lasting effects.

Trying to establish the way in which different types of training, resources, experiences and government directives influence what happens the classroom is seen as an important precursor to planning effective in-service. Stanton (1990) points out, referring to Wragg's (1987) findings, that teachers develop set patterns of working which they 'successfully rehearse on many occasions'. For their skills to develop these 'self-perpetuating routines' need to be changed in some way. Maxwell (1992: 174) suggests that for effective training an in-service regime needs to have models 'that make it more likely that, as a result of attendance at an in-service, changes in teacher attitudes and behaviour will occur'. Wragg believed that such changes needed to be well structured and supported or they would be too stressful (cited Stanton op.cit).

In the eighties researchers looked more closely at the ways different types of inSET impacted on teacher behaviour. Bolem (1981) points out the need to recognise that teachers are adult learners, though Topping and Brindle (1978) note that techniques of teaching teachers are far less well developed than have been techniques of teaching children. They looked at the teachers context and pointed out that they usually have neither the supervision nor the attention, recognition and approval which other learners often receive. 'Teachers are supposed to be self motivating and work for subtle individual satisfactions and long-term, deferred goals like promotion' (p.50). Wood and Thompson (1980: 375) point out that 'most' inSET focuses on 'information assimilation' which they claim does not 'fit into what we know about adults and adult learning'. They identify this as a 'major flaw' in teacher development programmes (ibid).

Little research has been undertaken into the implications for approaches to training of the way adults learn. Several writers mention the work of Joyce and Showers (1980) who attempted to inform inSET regimes by looking at the way teachers acquired skills and strategies. They differentiated quite clearly between the goals of 'fine tuning existing approaches' and 'mastering and implementing new ones' and noted how much easier the former is to achieve than the latter (p.380). They identified four levels of impact to classify the outcomes of training - awareness; concepts and organised knowledge; principles and skills; and application and problem solving. They maintained that awareness of the importance of an area and the understanding of relevant knowledge are likely to have little impact in the classroom if they are not supported by the acquisition of the skills needed to apply what has been learnt and to adapt it to new circumstances, and the ability to integrate the new strategy into a teaching repertoire. The advisory teachers providing classroom support in the survey by Kinder and Harland (1991) found that little progress could be made with some teachers in the areas the project was trying to focus attention on because more fundamental skills in general classroom practices and organisation were lacking.

Regarding the training strategies able to achieve these outcomes, Kinder and Harland found that, in the studies they examined, certain main training components were made use of:

· presentation of theory or description of skill or strategy;
· modeling or demonstration of skills or models of teaching;
· practice in simulated and classroom settings;
· structured and open feedback (giving information about performance);
· coaching for application (hands-on, in-classroom assistance with the transfer of skills and strategies to the classroom) (p. 3 80).
They suggest that, while all of these were useful training strategies, when used together they each have far more power than when used alone. They also believe that there is no point looking for impact on student learning until the fourth 'outcome' has been achieved.

A much more detailed framework of outcomes was developed by Kinder and Harland (1991). They used Joyce and Showers training outcomes but expanded this to include motivation and value-orientated changes because they found the nature of outcomes to be more complex and broad ranging.

Several studies have looked at how radical change teachers' classroom behaviour and style can be achieved and have concluded that long term in-service programmes are necessary. Each stresses the importance of the teacher receiving on-going classroom support. English (1995) reports that Fullan (1982) identifies seven key features of the change process and stresses that change is both incremental and developmental. Eraut et al (1988) found that in-service would need to last at least a year. In the light of such hypotheses, Bolem (1983) points out that 'pedagogically inSET is frequently badly planned and implemented.....modeling practice and feedback are rare; on the job coaching is even rarer', (p. 16)

It is probable that teachers' centres, their traditional approach to inSET, could only contribute to a limited part of such a framework of training strategies. Morant (1978: 202) felt that, 'while the majority of general purpose centres regard in-service work as their chief function', at that time, they had not actually 'progressed beyond the "instructional course" phase their institutional development'.

1.9.3 Individual or staff development.

A third aspect studies began to look at was whether it was more effective for inSET to work with individual teachers or to target a staff as a whole. Traditionally the teachers' centre had treated the teacher as an individual, both terms of curriculum development and of in-service education. The SITE project in Bristol found that only 4% of teachers in their sample considered whether a particular course might be beneficial to the needs of the school when they selected a course to attend (Bolem 1983).

With increasing concern about school effectiveness and value for money, this practice began to be questioned. From the end of the seventies, there had been a growing feeling that individual teacher development away from the school did not necessarily provide tangible benefits for the school. In Henderson's evaluation (1977: 15) he comes to the general conclusion that in-service training was more likely to be effective if it was designed 'to involve the school as a system rather than the teacher as an individual'.

Midwinter (1974: 14) pointed to 'the truism that teachers operate groups and are institution bound'. He said that teachers' centres needed to take more cognizance of these facts and suggested that it was school staff as a unit which have to be energized and mobilized. Eighty percent of teachers in the SITE Project were found to be in favour of each school having a clear inSET policy linked to school goals, although only 13% said they already had such a policy (Bolem 1983). Bolem suggests his findings show that teachers were interested in job or school related inSET, which in turn seems to suggest they were not convinced of the efficacy of individual professional development. He mentions a number of surveys undertaken at the time. The main finding was the need for 'in-service work to be school-orientated or focused, was important to relate in-service programmes to the curriculum and life of the school' (op.cit p.35).

Bolem points out that school focused inSET increases the potential for the type of on the job training and coaching advocated by Joyce and Showers'. Gough (1997: 25) in his survey of articles about teachers' centres notes that 'in the 1980s accounts of staff development were becoming more common'. In response to government initiatives to improve the teaching of primary science, Calderdale LEA mounted a number of central courses. They found that while these successfully did what they intended to do, i.e. demonstrate what science education could involve, they only reached 1/3 of the primary teachers and seemed to be preaching to the converted. To tackle this problem they began to experiment with school based courses and found these more successful (Kinder and Harland (1991).

The issues surrounding training and professionalism continue to provoke discussion. The point of view taken seems to reflect the way the teaching force is regarded: whether it is seen as a body of 'professionals with a measure of autonomy over the work they do' or as 'vocational workers implementing learning programmes designed by others' (Lee 1997: 18). This opinion in turn seems to be influenced by current educational policy and the imperatives for training this has created. This can be seen England at the moment where, after a decade of teachers being seen as a members of 'a staff in a regime of increased central control, there has been a shift back to talk of teachers as individual 'professionals' in the latest white paper (1997).

It appears that the question of whether professional development or more focused, rigorous training is appropriate depends on where the teaching body stands in relationship to major curriculum and methodological change. English (1995) suggests that, regarding educational change, the aims of inSET may in the past have been inappropriate. He quotes Fullan's suggestion that the ultimate aim of inSET, as far as courses are concerned, should be 'less to implement a specific innovation or policy and more to create individual and organisational habits and structures that make continuous learning a valued and endemic part of the culture of schools and teaching.' Henderson (1976) concludes from his findings that inSET 'intensified, focused or enabled existing predilections for change rather than initiating it'. It is possibly more appropriate to give concerns about 'professional development' more time, space and money once major change has become fairly well established. At such a point, in-service education at teachers' centres could be more concerned with the development of any new curriculum initiatives, and the 'fine tuning' of competence, rather than with trying to help teachers to take on board completely new ways of teaching. Thus teachers' centres could concentrate on what in the early 1970s they are thought to be best at; giving support to teachers who were responsible for their own professional development. This government is resurrecting the idea of a General Teaching Council and the possibility of professional centres. However, it is too early to know what form these would take or what they will have learnt from the experiences of 'teachers' centres'.


The Approach
Influences On How The Centre Works

In June 1998 we visited the Elmete Professional Development Centre - the closest institution to the old John Taylor's Teacher Centre we once had in Leeds. This visit provided some stark contrasts to the descriptions of teachers' centres in the 1970s.

The Approach

There has been a dramatic change in approach at the Centre. The Centre Leader felt it was most effective to go into schools and work directly with head teachers and school staff. He claimed that head teachers were reluctant to pay for individual teachers to go out of school for training.

The Centre works as a business, and in so doing differs very considerably with the way teachers' centres did in the past. The relationship between the Centre and the schools in the authority is organised on the basis of a 'service agreement'. There are a number of levels of service that schools can choose to buy into each year. The senior advisors, working as link advisors, have access to resources available in the authority. Part of their job is to broker these resources with the schools. The centre leader claims that the service agreements are a key way in which centres have adapted dramatically to the changing climate in education and in the wider world of commerce.

In this authority, all the government funding for inSET is delegated to the schools. When budgets were first shifted to schools in the late eighties, centres were not expected to continue to have a role. However, the level of 'buy back' into the services being offered by the advisory staff has remained high. Services provided are directed mainly towards primary education in response to these 'market forces'. The centre leader claimed primary schools still felt they needed someone to interpret government policy and provide focuses for their teacher development programmes.

Funding comes from central government for certain services and from clusters of schools for other services, such as those provided by the 'service agreements'. It is important to note that the amount of money generated by courses at the Centre is declining as school based or focused work is increasing.

To provide the services the schools require, the Centre is made up of a number of units which include:

· A team of primary teacher advisors-
- these are generic rather than subject specialists;
- they aim to bring about school improvement;
- teams go out and work in classrooms with teachers.
· An Assessment and Achievement Unit.
· A Multicultural Education Service, which has a link with special services in the authority.
· An Early Years Provision team consisting of a co-ordinator and eight advisors, four of whom are seconded to the centre for one or two years.


The head of the Centre is a senior advisor who has operational responsibility for each aspect of the Centre. He is answerable to a chief advisor, who provides support and advises on development. Control is delegated to the heads of the various units.

Besides the permanent advisory staff there are a number of seconded teacher advisors. They all plan their work for the year in advance, in consultation with the senior management team at the centre. At the end of each year an annual review looks at what they have achieved. They are held to account for the work they do and the funding they attract. Teacher advisors must make sure they are marketable at the end of their term of secondment. If they are successful, they are almost guaranteed a good career move, if they are not, they will go back to their old job and probably find achieving promotion rather difficult.

Influences On How The Centre Works

DFEE Policy:
OFSTED Inspections:
Other Influences

In the past teachers' centres took on board a whole range of functions and focuses. There was no accepted approach to needs analysis, but in various ways a wide range of local needs were considered and catered for.

Now, the demands of Government drive the system rather than local needs analysis. The centre is seen as a focal point for government policy. It provides personnel who can interpret this policy and outreach to schools, and who can also provide exemplars of good practice.

The centre leader claimed that the government, by forcing change, had induced a 'fear factor' into schools, and many schools have turned to the Centre for help in coping with the onslaught of directives.

The work of the Centre has two major influences: the DFE and OFSTED.

DFEE Policy:

The training that is done at the Centre responds closely to the demands of government policy for schools. At the moment the government's concern is with the teaching of the 'Key Skills' - literacy, numeracy and information technology. Teams of trainers are therefore being established for these three areas. The team already working on the government's literacy proposals - a 'literacy hour' each day for primary school children -includes a core of permanent advisors supported by a number of teacher advisors seconded to the Centre for two years. The DFEE has provided a 'Literacy Hour' training package. The literacy team at the Centre is plugged into the cascade system coming from central government to train all primary teachers in the approach laid down by the DFEE. Next year the government focus moves to Numeracy and the Centre already has an embryonic Numeracy Team in place.

Training for the Literacy Hour: In the authority, two and a half consultants have been appointed by the LEA to have overall responsibility for organising the Literacy Hour training and for the work of the Literacy Team. The materials for the training sessions, as implied above, are central government designed.

The training consists of 2-day conferences at the Centre for the head teacher, a teacher and a governor responsible for literacy from each school in the authority. This group then goes back to the school, relays the training to the rest of the staff, and prepares teaching plans for September when the literacy hour must begin.

In addition consultants will go into schools which have been identified as performing in the lowest 10% of the authority's primary schools and schools which are due for re-inspection by OFSTED, to help them formulate their plans. In the future, as part of school inspections, OFSTED teams will check Literacy Hour plans and implementation strategies. They will also evaluate the effectiveness of each school's Literacy Hour.

OFSTED Inspections:

The work of the Centre personnel is closely tied to OFSTED inspections:

· Each school is expected to have a school development action plan for each year. Advisors from the Centre go into each school for two days each year to help head teachers to write their action plan. They then file a report on the progress made. If schools are found to be failing, a teacher advisor from the Centre goes into that school for one day a week.

· Schools receive a trial inspection from the senior advisors prior to an OFSTED inspection. They advise the school on improvements and try to identify 'priority one schools' - those who are failing - and work with them prior to the inspection. They also maintain a 'watching brief on 'priority 2 schools' - those giving some cause for concern.

· At the end of an inspection the OFSTED team identify areas for improvement. They leave each school with a list of key issues to address and allow 40 days for the school to produce an acceptable action plan. An advisor from the centre assists each head teacher with the writing of this plan and OFSTED return after 6 months to check the plan and progress made to date

These services are all provided out of central funding and the centre staff are very much working out of Centre to target individual schools.

Other Influences

A number of other initiatives are beginning to affect the work of the centre:

· Beacon schools - identified as being particularly successful, they will work in partnership with advisory staff to help other schools to improve.

· Expert teachers - will show failing teachers how to be experts, they will receive a large financial incentive to remain as 'successful teachers' rather than seek promotion out of the classroom.

· Induction for new teachers - New teacher will receive 17 days of support either:

- in the form of training at the centre
- in the form of school based training
- or in the form of an accredited programme with accessed tasks.
· Moves towards working with Institutes of Education to produce forms of accreditation for training programmes.


The work of this modern day Professional Development Centre is certainly a far cry from the work of teachers' centres in the past.