NPC/03/03/A: Response to Institute for Learning and Teaching consulation on Continuing Professional Development

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Also in Consultations 2003...

by Tim Brown

On behalf of the National Postgraduate Committee (NPC) I am pleased to respond to the Institute of Learning and Teaching for Higher Education consultation on continuing professional development. I am grateful for the supporting comments conveyed by the NPC for this consultation.

Tim Brown
General Secretary
National Postgraduate Committee


Executive summary

In response to this short consultation, we generally agree with a number of the statements presented. However, we have raised points of concern in light of postgraduates who teach that may wish to take on continuing professional development while they are a postgraduate. We would encourage access in this area so that recognition of their progress can be carried through if they wish to pursue academic teaching.


The National Postgraduate Committee (NPC) is a charity with the aim of furthering UK postgraduate education in the public interest. We organise meetings and conferences, publish best practice guidelines and seek to influence public policy on all aspects of postgraduate education. Our membership consists of affiliated students unions from across the UK; we have one full-time officer, the General Secretary, and fourteen voluntary officers. We work closely with the National Union of Students and the lecturers unions as well as other bodies relevant to postgraduate education.

Response to the Questions

Please find below our response to the questions as set out in the original consultation paper which we have arranged so that our response can be communicated amongst our members via electronic means.

1. Expectations placed on members

During the consultation on the nature and structure of the Framework itself, many members expressed the view that the ILTHE should make completion of the Framework a requirement for members to remain in good standing. In expressing this opinion, and as something of a quid pro quo, members asked the ILTHE to work with HEIs to develop ways in which additional benefits to members might result from completion of the Framework.

Statement 1a:

As the professional body for learning and teaching in higher education, the ILTHE expects its members to engage in CPD activity and to be able to confirm that such activity has taken place.

We agree

Any Additional Comments We support the fact that staff should monitor their progress in higher education teaching which often gets undermined by demands of research. We also support development of postgraduate research students by monitoring their teaching progress.

Statement 1b:

To be in good standing, members are expected to be able to demonstrate:

  • commitment to their own continuing professional development in relation to the ILTHE's areas of professional activity and core knowledge;

We agree

  • commitment to the ILTHE's professional values;

We agree

  • willingness to open their practice to peer comment and review;

We agree

  • willingness to make their CPD Framework available to the ILTHE on request.

We agree

Any additional comments None

2. The length of the CPD cycle

It is expected that members will opt to complete the CPD Framework either on an annual basis or to timescales specified in the personal development and review/appraisal cycles of their institution. However, it is proposed that members should complete the Framework within a maximum of three years for each CPD cycle.

Statement 2:

Members are expected to complete the Continuing Professional Development Framework at least once every three years;

We disagree

Any additional comments This system of reviewing may be useful for academic staff working on a permanent basis, however, we would say that there needs to be some flexibility for postgraduate students who teach, who may otherwise be only teaching as postgraduates for a period of three years or less.

3. Expectations in relation to the number of hours to be spent in CPD each year

Whilst some organisations expect their members to complete a minimum number of verifiable hours of CPD per year, the ILTHE is currently planning not to specify a required number of hours. The main reason for this decision is to emphasise the varied forms of CPD undertaken irrespective of the numbers of hours spent. The ILTHE also takes the view that much valuable CPD takes place as part of other day-to-day activities for which it is difficult to assign specific numbers of hours.

Statement 3:

There should be no formal requirement on members to complete a minimum number of verifiable hours of CPD per year

We agree

Any additional comments We strongly support this since the number of hours and arrangement of teaching hours for postgraduates is variable. Therefore the process of CPD would change according to the hours worked.

4. Synergies with HEIs and the requirements of other professional associations

Members and HEI representatives have indicated that the use of the Framework is likely to be maximised if it is not only a requirement of the ILTHE but also integrated with the learning and teaching and human resource strategies and procedures of HEIs.

Integration does, however, raise additional issues:

  • HEIs might well require the Framework to be available to non-members;
  • there is a need to explore issues of ownership by members, their HEIs and the ILTHE.

Statement 4a:

  • the ILTHE should continue to explore with HEIs ways in which the ILTHE CPD Framework might be harmonised with HEI learning and teaching and human resource strategies

We agree

Statement 4b:

the ILTHE CPD Framework should be available to non-members as well as members

We disagree

Any additional comments While the framework should be available for non members to refer to we would not support any accreditation being given to them while they were not members. Making information available may lead to membership, however.

5. Processing completed or partially-completed Frameworks

The June 2002 Project Report (see Appendix 1) argues that large-scale central monitoring of members' CPD Frameworks, even if feasible and cost-effective, would have the disadvantage of placing monitoring and the development of an overview of CPD activity in the hands of the few. Whilst it is recommended that a small percentage of Frameworks be monitored centrally, the main process of monitoring and review should be by local and regional panels. How this would work is described in the Notes of Guidance to the Framework (see Appendix 2).

One of the main advantages of local or regional monitoring, apart from the direct involvement of members, is the developmental input to members, HEIs and the ILTHE resulting from the production of local and national reports. For example, local or regional reports and a subsequent UK-wide report prepared centrally by the ILTHE could be used:

  • by members to assess their development in relation to the wider experience of colleagues including discipline based networks;
  • by HEIs in relation to their learning and teaching and human resource strategies;
  • by the ILTHE to gather information on identified CPD needs and activity;
  • by the ILTHE in relation to good standing;
  • by the ILTHE as evidence in relation to the maintenance and development of professional standards.

Statement 5a:

the ILTHE should continue to explore the introduction of a system for local, regional and/or subject-based monitoring and reporting on members' CPD frameworks (as described in the Notes of Guidance to the Framework)

We agree

the ILTHE should introduce central monitoring of CPD Frameworks for a small, randomly determined percentage of members

We agree

Any additional comments We identify that the subject and/or regional based monitoring is more practical although we would request that the performance of mentors are sufficiently monitored to be assured of their judgements.

6. Using the CPD Framework as a route to membership

If the Framework were made available to non-members, it could be used as a route to membership equivalent to the Initial Entry Route for Experienced Staff. To be used for this purpose, the Framework would need to be completed by prospective members in such a way that evidence is provided that all the areas of professional activity, core knowledge and professional values have been covered adequately and sufficiently in the completed CPD Framework.

It is also likely that the ILTHE would require that:

  • the Framework is completed in full;
  • Frameworks for two completed CPD cycles are submitted;
  • there is evidence of rationales and reflection;
  • there is corroborating support from a colleague or mentor as part of the Framework itself;
  • there is an additional, supporting reference.

Statement 6:

Completion of the CPD Framework by non-members should become a route to membership (subject to the kinds of condition specified above)

We agree

Any additional comments We support this statement based on our comments made to statement 4a.

7. The CPD Framework, the award of Fellowship, and the award of other benefits

The ILTHE has not yet introduced the category of Fellowship and it is not anticipated that this will be introduced until the membership led ILTHE Council has considered the principles upon which such a category should be based. Members participating in the CPD pilot project, however, have suggested that a future award of Fellowship of the ILTHE could be granted following the successful completion of CPD as recorded in the Framework. This could provide a significant incentive to members to engage in CPD and to complete the Framework.

Should the category of Fellow be introduced, it is likely that the ILTHE would require the successful completion and accreditation of the CPD Framework over, say, a minimum of five years.

An alternative approach to achieving the status of Fellow could be to require any alternative scheme introduced by the ILTHE to include as a prerequisite that applicants be in good standing in relation to their CPD activity and the completion of the CPD Framework.

Similarly, applicants for other benefits (e.g. small grants) provided by the ILTHE could be required to be in good standing.

Statement 7a:

Demonstrating you have been engaged in CPD for 5 years is adequate for the award of Fellowship

We agree

CPD should not be linked solely to the award of Fellowship, but could be used as one element of a wider accredited framework of activity in order to fulfil future requirements for the award of Fellowship of the ILTHE

We agree

Statement 7b:

the ILTHE should make the award of benefits (for example, small grants scheme) subject to applicants being in good standing in relation to CPD

We agree

Any additional comments While we may support the idea of fellowship after 5 years of CPD, we would possibly not support those who have limited teaching hours gaining such experience since this may indicate that the staff concerned is either research focused or working part time.

8. The electronic completion and logging of CPD Frameworks

During the previous consultation, some members requested the provision of a central, confidential facility for completing and submitting CPD Frameworks. Some members also suggested that the ILTHE should offer two additional facilities:

  • the formal accreditation by ILTHE accreditors of submitted CPD Frameworks if so requested by individual members, and
  • the forwarding of members' accredited frameworks to support applications for promotion, for new posts, etc., also if requested by members.

Statement 8a:

The ILTHE should make available a central, confidential facility for the completion and submission of CPD Frameworks by members.

We agree

Statement 8b:

The ILTHE should make available, on request by members, confirmation that the member is in good standing with respect to CPD.

We agree

Statement 8c:

The ILTHE should make available to individual members, upon request, copies of their CPD Framework with confirmation that the Framework has been accredited by the ILTHE.

We agree

Any additional comments None

9. The accreditation of other CPD Frameworks and of institutional strategies and procedures

The June 2002 Project Report (see Appendix 1) recommends that the ILTHE consider accrediting the CPD frameworks of other organisations as alternatives to the completion of the ILTHE's own Framework where these alternatives can clearly demonstrate that they meet the ILTHE's requirements.

Statement 9:

the ILTHE should accredit the CPD frameworks of other organisations as alternatives to the completion of the ILTHE's own Framework where these alternatives can clearly demonstrate that they meet the ILTHE's requirements;

We agree

Any additional comments We appreciate that other frameworks being used will ease the access for a number of academics, however, we would recommend strict indicators are set to evaluate whether other frameworks sufficiently meet the standards required.

10. Additional comments

We would not add any other comments other than those outlined in the executive summary.

Please indicate the basis on which you are responding:
1) as an ILTHE member
2) on behalf of the following HEI organisation The National Postgraduate Committee
3) Other