The PDST started life off as a different Four Letter Acronym – the PCSP. Back then, its job was to provide teachers with training in the “new” curriculum. It has developed over time to be the main provider of training for teachers in lots of different areas. Even their website menu can’t take the number of area they now cover!
This doesn’t cover their sub-branch, the wonderfully long acronym PDSTTiE – which used to be called the NCTE. I’ve almost forgotten what both acronyms mean – put it this way – it covers technology in education.
This leads me to the first reform. It’s pretty simple. Lose the separate technology sub-department and bring it into the main PDST (even if it lengthens the menu to uncomfortable territories.)
I actually have no problem with the PDST taking care of all teacher training. In fact, I believe it should have the monopoly on all CPD for teachers. I don’t understand why agencies like the INTO or IPPN or anyone else for that matter should have branches of training associated with them.
That’s my second reform. Any education agency should move its CPD to the PDST. This obviously leads to a risk of private entities coming in which gives me the third reform. Any PDST training completed by teachers gets them official credit. I know I’m stepping into Cosán territory here and maybe I am.
The next reform would be to remove SSE completely. It’s a tautology that’s covered by everything above it in the menu of options.
One of the main problems I foresee with these reforms is that we end up with very dull standardised seminars where PDST workers deliver a very standardised set of PowerPoints. This is already happening. I haven’t been to a seminar in ages where the presenter seems to be unable to bring any aspect of themselves to the day. My last reform would be that the teachers working with the PDST need to passionate about their area and have a proven track record in the area, then have the freedom to deliver the content of an area with their own personality. The benefit of having more interesting and useful seminars, to me, outweighs the benefit of everyone getting exactly the same boring message. There can be a minimum expectation put on the trainer and after that the floor is theirs.
Lastly, trainers need to be trained in training. I know this already happens but it needs to be a much bigger emphasis. There is nothing more depressing than sitting behind a desk while a trainer stands reading the slides behind them. Also depressing are ice-breakers, asking for feedback from the crowd before telling them the right answers on the next slide, or “fun” activities to break up a PowerPoint.
Finally, and I’ve already covered this in a previous article, the PDST should be the sole providers of summer courses.
I think the PDST is one of the better agencies involved in education. Perhaps “reform” was too harsh a word; a few tweaks might suffice.