Professional Exchange Continuing Professional Development (CPD)


The TSNLA has been working on phase 2 of the Exchange. We have been working with the WEA and Humber Learning Consortium to develop two Exchange groups and the initiative will complete in July 2018

The project is based on key elements such as exchange of experience and knowledge, a 'bottom-up' approach to identifying Continuing Professional Development needs, the integration of the Professional Standards and extended reach through participant sharing.  The Exchange will build around one national and three regional professional networks, and deliver free at the point of delivery face-to-face CPD sessions, having identified needs through pre-participating self assessment questionnaires.

The Exchange is based on key elements including:

  • Creating a CPD Champion role within each of the regional partners
  • An exchange of experience and knowledge – drawing on practitioners' own experience and skills
  • A 'bottom-up' approach to identifying Continuing Professional Development needs – as well as drawing on local knowledge, national policy and the work of the OTLA projects (Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment) and the Regional Specialist Leads in English and Maths
  • The integration of the ETF Professional Standards
  • Extended reach through participant sharing – with an active role for participants to cascade the learning to colleagues, teams and networks
  • Demonstrating how CPD learning is put into practice to the benefit of learners

One of the key features of the programme will be in calling on participants to share their own knowledge and expertise (hence the 'Exchange') both through initial CPD delivery and by sharing the content afterwards with at least two other colleagues.

June 2018 Update

The Third Sector Exchange has been funded by the Education and Training Foundation. In partnership with the WEA and Humber Learning Consortium two Exchange groups have been active, in the London and South East area with the WEA and in Humberside with Humber Learning Consortium. Key principles of the Exchange approach have been to encourage an approach based on exchange between participants rather than a more traditional training delivery and to integrate the Professional Standards.

The WEA Exchange group

19 tutors were participants in four meetings – the focus of the Exchange was on RARPA in the WEA non-accredited provision. The aim was to work with tutors on how the necessary paperwork (the Student Learner Record, the ‘Tell Us About It’ learner feedback form and the group profile) could be used more effectively to support both the learners and organisational requirements. The majority of the learners the tutors work with are older people who are learning for leisure and pleasure.

The first session was face to face and the remaining three by video conference. Group members have been encouraged to present elements of their ongoing work to the group.

The group identified objectives for themselves: making learning outcomes ‘smarter’, effective use of the SLR, TUAI and group profile in all stages of the RARPA process, using technology to support assessment and recording achievement and developing active approaches to assessment.

Members of the group chose specific learning objectives to work on individually or with other group members. Progress was made in the following ways:

Making Learning Outcomes Smarter:

·       They can be written to allow for more flexibility so that students can influence the learning programme

·       They can be more flexible in order to accommodate all levels – so that the more able can stretch and to support those starting at lower levels

·       Course outcomes can be linked to ‘softer’ outcomes

·       Introduce the learning outcomes in the first session in a discursive and creative way, ensuring that participants understand them, thus lessening any barriers to them

Using the Student Learner Record, the ’Tell Us About It’ and the Group Profile:

·       The need to make the forms relevant for all students

·       The information collected should inform developing tutor practice

·       Tutors need to make the forms work for their groups e.g. working with pairs or small groups to complete the TUAI

Using Technology to support assessment and recording achievement:

·       Use a Google form to gather feedback from the whole group and individuals – this can be used throughout learning to gather ongoing feedback and circulated through a platform (Padlet) or email

·       Using photos to capture progress through actual work, sharing via Pinterest or other online portfolios

·       Celebrate outcomes in the last session (quizzes, debates etc.) and video or photograph these

Developing active approaches to assessment:

·       Use different approaches to recording assessment, feedback and achievement rather than just written comments on the SLR

·       That this is especially important for art and craft and other practical courses

·       Have a presentation at the end of the course – sharing outcomes

As well as taking part in the group volunteers have also participated in WEA training and dissemination meetings and have given feedback to other tutors and staff about the Exchange group and the relevance of its work and progress.

The Humber Learning Consortium Exchange group

In contrast to the WEA group the 14 participants were working with learners who are 25+ and lacking in formal qualifications and who want to progress into work or within their work settings. HLC is the managing agent for contracts such as Building Better Opportunities and uses RARPA as the quality assurance framework for its sub-contractors.

All sessions were face to face – in response to the group consensus being a preference for this rather than having video sessions as well. At the start of the group participants rated their current level on a number of the Professional Standards – and at the end repeated this to check what progress might have been made. People chose according to their own interests on the day.

It is clear that participants were seeing personal progress by the end of the group, with examples being significant progress in ‘Evaluating your practice with others and assessing its impact on learning’ (from 2 to 5 out of a possible 6); ‘Enabling learners to share responsibility for their own learning and assessment, setting goals that stretch and challenge’ (from 3 to 6); ‘Understand the teaching and professional role and your responsibilities’ (from 2 to 5).

Feedback from participants has been positive:

‘I now integrate the RARPA structure into my work with clients. This has benefited them by giving them a more focussed and meaningful experience.’

‘It has been important in helping me to ensure that all of their journey is logged correctly and covers all stages of RARPA.’

‘I have realised that learners enjoy recording their progress and state that this motivates them.’

Sharing the learning

Both Exchange groups were encouraged to share the learning so that the benefits of the Exchange were spread further. For the WEA volunteers from the group have fed back to internal staff training and dissemination groups and their work is supporting the organisation in developing its ‘paperwork’ so that it becomes more user friendly. For Humber Learning Consortium participants have fed back within their own organisations through staff meetings, CPD sessions, discussions with colleagues and supervision sessions.

The investment of the Education and Training Foundation has been crucial to this initiative.

January 2018 Update

The Third Sector Professional Exchange is funded by the Education and Training Foundation as part of their responsibility to improve the quality of teaching and learning in adult learning settings. There are several Exchanges operating throughout England, mostly in the FE college sector and all bigger projects than the Third Sector one.

The TSNLA is the project manager for the Exchange and delighted to be working with two delivery partners: the WEA as a national provider of learning and Humber Learning Consortium (HLC) operating as a managing agent of 45 small providers in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The Exchange is based on learning groups working with a theme over 4 meetings (face to face and virtual), seeking to make the process as much of an ‘Exchange’ as possible through interactive methods and participants being encouraged to cascade their learning to colleagues. All learning methods are placed within the context of the Professional Standards for FE Teachers (produced by the ETF).

Independently, both partners have opted to focus on RARPA (recognising and recording progress and achievement) – largely because each provider or provider system is focussing on their delivery of non-accredited learning. For the WEA the focus is on art and history tutors and for HLC it is providers working mostly on the Building Better Opportunities programme. The WEA cohort is working with typically older learners, learning for leisure and pleasure and who are well qualified and often difficult to engage in questions such as progression in learning. The HLC cohort is working with learners aged 25+ who are typically lacking in formal qualifications and want to progress.

Both WEA and HLC held very positive first sessions in December, using a variety of approaches to determine participant’s knowledge of RARPA and to explore what goals would be useful to pursue that would progress both individual participants and organisations. One example of this is to explore how learning outcomes could be made SMARTER (specific, measurable, achievable, time bound) as well as open to learner or student input and linked to softer outcomes.

Part of the project is to identify and share both learning from this process and useful tools and resources which underpin the programme. Participants will also keep a simple learning journal and assess progress against three elements of the professional standards over the life of the group.

The Professional Standards:


RARPA updated 2017 guidance:


For more information contact John Harris on john.harris@thirdsectorconsultancy.org and 01943 463047


May 2017 Update

 So far the project has delivered 9 out of 10 CPD workshops:

 ·       Using Technology in teaching and learning

·       Functional Skills in problem-solving

·       Using an online peer review model

·       Supporting learners with additional support needs

There have been 123 enthusiastic delegates at the 9 workshops and there is one more workshop to come. Our target number is to involve at least 135 delegates. All delegates taking part are asked to complete three stages of an evaluation process. The process is designed to capture some of the impact of experiencing the CPD on offer.

Participants are asked to record their thoughts about the learning and the implementation of this learning in relation to how this has affected their teaching practice with learners. They are also expected to go away from the CPD sessions and share this learning with at least two other colleagues in some way.

Partner organisations are currently gathering this data from the 123 participants, but initial data suggests that the sharing with other colleagues is progressing well. We will have more information on this shortly.

 Here are some comments on the impact of the CPD on delegate’s practice:

 ‘At the event I learnt about useful Dyslexia Apps. I have shared this useful resource with colleagues. We have run a group training event to share with colleagues and have started to use these in groups.’

 ‘The key changes are how we record CPD and the level of detail we include which has led to a much greater level of sharing our CPD experiences with each other as a team.  This event has also highlighted how many CPD events that we do everyday within our roles and how we can maximise these, but more importantly how we can record these for our own and others benefit.’

 Here are some comments on the impact on learners:

 ‘I have extended the reach to learners on a global scale. 150 followers to 3.5K in 3 months.’

 ‘It is more enriching for them. They are also using this ICT in demonstrating some of their learning.’

 ‘My learners have benefited by my increased level of knowledge and experience which to me has always been at the heart of CPD in the first place.  However, this event has also provided me with a practical benefit for my learners as most of them have to complete a 'managing personal and professional development unit' in one form or another and many have listened to and adapted the practices that I picked up on the day, and as always just as my learners learn from me I am also learning from them.’