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 Capacity building resources

Professional learning

Marion Jones


Marion is a Reader in Education at Liverpool John Moores University

Since the introduction of a professional standards framework for teachers and teacher educators on initial training (DfEE, 1998) and induction (DfEE, 1999) an increasing emphasis on early / continuing professional development (DfES, 2007) professional learning in education has been widely promoted in policy and practice. The recognition of its importance is also reflected in the proliferation of postgraduate programmes which support trainee and qualified teachers in engaging in practitioner research. In practice settings, mentoring schemes have been introduced to provide individual support for professional learning by placing emphasis on reflective practice (Schön, 1983; 1987), while the collaborative aspect of learning has become an integral aspect of educational partnerships and learning networks. Although a ubiquitous concept, professional learning is difficult to define, as it manifests itself in a variety of ways. It can take place formally or within a structured programme or occur informally and incidental (Coffield, 2000; Bell & Dale, 1999; McGivney, 1999) through experience and within communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). It is concerned with the development of professional knowledge (Eraut, 1984) and competence and the formation of professional identity. However, relevant discourses highlight potential tensions between notions of performativity and humanistic models of professional learning, which is reflected in the adoption of a predominantly technicist or critically reflective approach to professional learning and growth depending on the culture within which it is embedded and the external pressures incumbent upon it.

The Changing Teacher Roles, Identies amd Professionilsm (C-TRIP): An Annotated Bibliography


Coffield, D. A. (2000) The Necessity of Informal Learning. Bristol : The Policy Press

Dale, M. & Bell, J. (1999) Informal Learning in the Workplace . Department for Education and Employment Research Report No 134. London : DfEE August 1999

DfEE (1998) ‘Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status' High Status, High Standards. Circular 4/9787. London : DfEE

DfEE (1999) The Induction Period for Newly Qualified Teachers. Circular 5/99. London : DfEE

DfES (2007)

Eraut, M. (1994) Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence. London : Routledge

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

McGivney, V. (1999) Informal Learning in the Community. A Trigger for Change and Development. Leicester : NIACE

Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. New York : Basic Books

Schön, D. (1987) Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass

How to reference this page: Jones M. (2007) Professional learning. London: TLRP. Online at (accessed )

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