Cosán

1. What is Cosán?

Cosán (the Irish for pathway) is the National Framework for Teachers’ Learning (CPD) which has been developed by the Teaching Council following a comprehensive consultation and drafting process.

Cosán  recognises that teachers are already committed to their professional learning and seeks to provide reassurance to the profession and the public that teachers are engaging in life-long learning by publically acknowledging the full range of learning activities that teachers undertake including formal, informal, personal and professional.

Cosán is currently going through a teacher-led development process. This involves teachers or schools opting in to trial Cosán in their setting. These teachers/schools are then facilitated in providing feedback to the Council through regional Cosán workshops and shared learning days.

-          Download the Cosán framework document

-          Graphic depicting the key elements of Cosán

-          Find out more about the Cosán Development Process

-          Opt in to the Cosán Development Process

2. Why is the Teaching Council getting involved in teachers' learning?

All of the Council's work is underpinned by the Teaching Council Act. As set out in the Act, the Council's functions in relation to continuing professional development (CPD) provide that the Council will advise the Minister in relation to teachers' CPD, promote engagement in CPD, conduct research into it and raise awareness of the benefit of teachers' learning, among the public and teaching profession alike.

- Download the Teaching Council Act

3. How was Cosán developed?

Cosán was developed following two phases of consultation.

The first phase of consultation commenced in October 2014 when, before drafting the framework, the Council consulted with teachers on teachers' learning. This consultation process involved an online survey, 25 nationwide consultation workshops and whole-school feedback following school-based workshops. The Council also gathered insights from teachers who had carried out recent research in CPD. In total, 3,349 teachers participated in this phase of consultation and their feedback informed the first draft of the Cosán Framework which was published in May 2015.

The second phase of consultation sought the views of both teachers and education stakeholders on this first draft of the framework. This phase of consultation also involved an online survey, a series of nationwide workshops and school-based meetings. The Council also convened a national consultation event for stakeholders, held follow up bilateral meetings with stakeholders and accepted written feedback on the draft framework. More than 1,600 teachers and stakeholders contributed to this second phase of consultation and the draft framework was revised in light of their feedback.

The revised draft framework was approved by Council on 15 February 2016.

The updated draft of the Cosán Framework is now facilitating the current Cosán Development phase. During this phase, teachers and schools can opt in the process and apply the framework in their particular setting. The Council continues to gather feedback from this process through nationwide workshops, school visits and shared learning days.

- Read more about the drafting of the Cosán Framework

- Find out about the ongoing Cosán Development Process

- Opt in to the Cosán Development Process

4. What kinds of learning does Cosán recognise?

Central to Cosán is the notion that teachers' learning should have an impact on their practice and on the learning of their students.

As such, Cosán is a flexible framework which values teachers' learning through a range of learning processes which teachers have told us can have an impact on their practice. Learning processes such as engagement in professional conversations, reading a relevant article, team teaching with a colleague and engaging in collaborative reflection afterwards, attendance at a professional learning event, facilitating school-based learning, engaging in mentoring/ coaching etc. are all valued under Cosán.

Cosán recognises that learning which has an impact can happen individually or collaboratively, it can be personal, professional, school based, external, formal or informal.

- Link to graphic depicting a variety of learning processes valued by Cosán

5. Who decides what learning teachers engage in under Cosán?

Cosán recognises teachers as autonomous and responsible professionals and as such proposes that teachers themselves should identify and prioritise the learning which they feel will be of benefit to them and their students.

Cosán recognises that the breadth of teachers' learning the importance of teachers having access to rich and varied learning opportunities to enable them choose the opportunities which they feel will have the most impact.

Once Section 39 of the Teaching Council Act is implemented the Teaching Council will have a role in the review and accreditation of programmes relating to the continuing education and training of teachers.  

6. Who will decide if the learning that teachers engage in is having an impact on their practice and on their students' learning?

Cosán recognises that teachers themselves are best placed to identify and prioritise the learning which they feel benefits them and their students and that teachers themselves are also best placed to determine the impact of this learning on their practice and on the learning of their students.

7. How can teachers determine the impact of their learning on their practice?

To facilitate teachers in both identifying their learning needs and in determining the impact of their learning, Cosán encourages teachers to engage in cycles of planning, evidence gathering, reflection and ongoing learning (sometimes referred to as portfolio based learning). It is proposed that teachers would identify from their own practice, examples of their teaching which will help them to determine the impact of their learning on their practice. Teachers who are engaging in the Cosán Development Phase are currently engaging in these processes either collaboratively or individually and are providing feedback to the Council on what the most effective, sustainable and helpful models of portfolio-based learning for teachers might be.

Some examples of how teachers might reflect on their professional learning and its impact on their practice, and how teachers might gather and/or share these reflections, where appropriate, are available on the Teaching Council website.

The Cosán Development Process will also examine the potential for ICT-based solutions to facilitate reflection and ongoing learning.

- View examples of how teachers might reflect on their learning and gather evidence of its impact.

8. Why is reflection so central to Cosán and where can I find out more about reflection?

Teachers continually reflect on practice in a variety of ways. The Cosán framework proposes that teachers would reflect on their professional learning - either collaboratively or individually and that this reflection will facilitate teachers in determining the impact of this learning on their practice.

There are various definitions and models of reflection and during the Cosán Development Process teachers have pointed to the need for more accessible information on the concept of reflection. In response, the Council has developed resources for teachers on reflection and aims to add to these resources as the Development Phase continues.

The Cosán Development Process will also examine the potential for ICT-based solutions to facilitate reflection and ongoing learning.

- Access the Council's resources on reflection

- View examples of how teachers might reflect gather/ record these reflections on their professional learning.

9. As a teacher, how can I reflect on my professional learning in a meaningful way?

There are many definitions of reflection and various tools which can be used in different contexts to aid reflection.

Reflection can be both individual and collaborative. In line with the Council's underpinning principles of shared professional responsibility and collective professional confidence, the Council believes that collaborative reflection can be particularly effective when reflecting on professional learning. When asked how they reflect on their professional learning, the vast majority of teachers who are involved in the Cosán Development process indicated that they reflect on their professional learning through professional conversations with colleagues. For more on teachers' professional conversations you might like to watch this short video from Professor Helen Timperley (University of Auckland). Her work has looked specifically at the enablers for effective conversations.

- Access information and a short video on reflecting on professional learning

- Access a webinar and an ezine on reflection.

10. Will teachers have to submit a professional learning portfolio to the Teaching Council for assessment as part of Cosán?

Cosán encourages teachers to engage in cycles of planning, evidence gathering, reflection and ongoing learning (sometimes referred to as portfolio based learning). Cosán proposes that teachers decide what evidence they gather to show the impact of their learning on practice and also decide how they record it. Teachers can also decide if, and which elements they want to share with others such as colleagues in order to inform and support professional conversations.

The Cosán framework does not stipulate that teachers must share their portfolio or evidence they gather showing the impact of their learning, with the Teaching Council.

11. Will teachers have to gather a certain number of CPD hours or credits as part of Cosán?

No. The Cosán framework does not mandate CPD hours or credit requirements for teachers.

Cosán recognises teachers as autonomous and responsible professionals and as such states that teachers themselves should identify and prioritise the learning which they feel benefits them and their pupils and that teachers would also determine the impact of this learning on their practice and on the learning of their students.

12. Is engagement in Cosán linked to renewal of registration?

The Council has decided that at this time, renewal of teachers' registration will not be subject to engagement in professional learning.

The Council continues to engage with teachers as part of the Cosán Development Process on all aspects of the framework in advance of national implementation and continues to gather the views of teachers on this topic.

- Read the statement from Council on the link between Cosán and registration renewal

13. My school is already involved in a number of initiatives, how will we have time for Cosán?

Cosán values a wide range of learning. Engagement in initiatives such as Droichead, JCT, SSE, SEN allocation model etc. provide learning opportunities for teachers which can have a real impact on their practice and on the learning of their students. As such, there is significant overlap between engagement in other initiatives and engagement in Cosán, particularly where engagement in other initiatives involve elements of planning, evidence gathering and reflection either on a collaborative or individual basis. 

14. How can my school get involved in the Cosán Development Process?

The Council welcomes whole-school involvement in Cosán.

Your school can get involved in the Cosán Development Process by completing this short survey. The Council will then contact you to inform you of upcoming regional Cosán workshops or to arrange a school visit from Council staff. Both workshops and school visits will provide an overview of the Cosán Framework and explore how the framework would work in your particular context.

15. How can I get involved in the Cosán Development Process?

You can get involved in the Cosán Development Process by completing this short survey. The Council will then contact you to invite you to attend a regional workshop to explore how the framework would work in your particular context.

The work of the Council is underpinned by the values of shared professional responsibility, collective professional confidence and professionally-led regulation and as such the Council would encourage participation in the Cosán Development process on a whole-school basis.