The main findings of the evaluation were as follows:
Finding 1 Teachers can produce high quality research reports when appropriate support is provided, especially in terms of expert knowledge of:
- the nature of professional education practices
- research approaches relevant to enhancing collaborative and person-centred forms of professional education
- the production of high-quality practice-embedded research reports;
- appropriate attitudes on the part of participants in terms of readiness to learn and openness to innovative forms; of providers, in arranging the most beneficial conditions for learning and in delivering appropriate forms of support; of managers, in providing opportunities for the delivery of research-based professional development programmes; of policy makers in openness to the development of new participative forms of supporting professional learning.
Finding 2 Practitioners can learn best and benefit from professional development provision most when the provision is presented in terms of their lifeworld experience. This includes an appropriate form of relevant personal and professional content presented in a practitioner-friendly and practitioner-relevant form of language.
Finding 3 Practitioners’ learning is best supported from an understanding that research may be carried out and its findings may be put into immediate effect.
Finding 4 Sufficient amounts of time should be allocated to professional education programmes that involve ongoing learning and reflection: a concern was voiced consistently by teachers that more time would have been helpful in developing learning and skills acquired from participation on the OTLA programme.
Finding 5 The best ideas and suggestions for research programmes usually come from practitioners themselves, when they see the relevance of the research topic for their own practices, with possible application for colleagues and for the profession.
Finding 6 Learning from previous life episodes may be seen as informing new practices, as shown in the incremental learning by both the team and participants across the years 2018–2020, and as communicated through teachers’ reports and through the nature of the technology-rich content of professional development days; this incremental form of learning often takes the form of and is embedded in a rolling-out of ideas and insights.
Finding 7 Professional development should include the provision of new ideas and new technologies.
Finding 8 Sustainable professional development often best takes the form of the development of a practitioner’s own knowledge, not simply the acquisition and application of others’ knowledge.
Finding 9 Professional education programmes should be grounded in a commitment to dialogue, participation and negotiation. In the OTLA programme it was a case of the team negotiating content and form with teachers, and of teachers negotiating content and form with learners. This was altogether a demonstration of the values of participation, inclusion and democratic discourses as communicated in the aims and values of both the ETF and ccConsultancy.