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Created: 17 August 2012 | Last Updated: 10 October 2017 | Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version | Make Text Smaller Make Text Larger |

Professional Learning Events - guide to organisation

Learning Reps are encouraged to be involved with Professional Learning personnel in various kinds of partnership working. One form of very successful partnership work is holding joint Professional Learning events. 

These events are held to raise awareness of Professional Learning opportunities, increase partnership working, and increase the profile of EIS Learning Reps to teachers and lecturers.

A large number of events have been held throughout Scotland and the evaluations are very positive. The events are organised jointly by the local Learning Reps and the local authority/FE/HE/Professional Learning personnel. These events will continue to be run on various topics to give those who attend as much support as possible with their Professional Learning.

We set out below a guide on how to organise a successful joint Professional Learning event and the procedures to follow to ensure that the event will be well-organised and attract the maximum number of participants. 

First Steps:

Meet with the appropriate person within the local authority or FE/HE Institution to discuss and identify a theme for the event which will resonate with teachers/lecturers and encourage them to give up their own time to attend. 

The event can be on any theme and can take any format which is thought will be best e.g. keynote speakers; keynote speaker plus workshops; workshops; professional dialogue panel event.

It is very important at this stage to decide who will carry out which functions in terms of organising the event, including booking the venue and catering, inviting keynote speakers/workshop contributors, registrations for the event.

The timing of the event is not only important with regard to when it is actually held, but also in terms of the necessary time required for successful organisation of the event. 

It is vital that the details of the event are promoted when the required time can be given to deal with registrations etc. 

It is crucial that when members start to show an interest in attending the event that they receive a prompt response either giving clarification on the event and/or acknowledging receipt of registration.

Costs for the event should be discussed and the Learning Rep should contact the Education Department as soon as possible to find out what funding is available from the EIS for the event - email Leigh Meechan or telephone 0131 225 6244.

The local authority/college/higher education institution should advise what contribution they can make to the costs e.g. providing the venue for the event. 

If workshops are going to be held a brief description of each workshop should be obtained from the contributor so that when the workshops are advertised teachers/lecturers have enough information to make an informed choice regarding which workshop(s) they wish to attend.

This also avoids a lot of unnecessary contact from those wishing to attend as they will have all the information they require.

It is advisable to be realistic about the number of workshops which are planned. If it is the first event this is particularly relevant as it is unknown what the likely take-up of places will be. 

It is better to have fewer workshops with good numbers in them than advertise too many and have to cancel some due to lack of numbers. 

The original Professional Learning events which featured workshops started off with a few workshops and then gradually built these up as attendance for each event increased.

Keynote Speakers/Workshop Contributors:

If the event is going to feature keynote speakers/workshop contributors they need to be identified and contacted as soon as possible as it is likely their diaries will be busy. 

The Professional Learning events which have been held have attracted well-respected figures within Scottish education and this is an important factor in encouraging people to attend the event. 

If the Learning Rep wants to invite keynote speakers/workshop contributors they can contact the EIS who can assist in this regard Telephone 0131 225 6244.

If technical support is required for the events e.g. for laptops, projectors it is important that this is put in place well in advance to ensure that the equipment functions on the day.

A number of Professional Learning event posters from previous Professional Learning events are included in the handbook to give Learning Reps ideas for their own events in terms of themes, content and time.

Venue and Timing for the Event:

The venue for the event is important as a good venue can make a significant difference as to whether people attend or not. 

It is a good idea to open up the event to surrounding areas if it is a joint event with a local authority - this increases the number of participants and also means that the keynote speakers and/or workshop contributors only have to attend one event rather than several individual events in the surrounding areas.

There have been occasions when several local authorities have worked with the local Learning Reps to put on a joint event on this basis and these have proved to be very successful.

Joint events with local authorities do not have to be held in a hotel as there are some very good schools which can be used for the events, particularly the newer builds, but hotels can be used if this is thought to be appropriate. 

Adequate parking is an aspect which should be taken into account. The FE/HE events will be held within the college/higher education institution.

It is very important that the event is held at a time both in terms of day/date/time which will encourage maximum participation. Successful events have been held on Saturday mornings or, on some occasions, in the evening. 

It depends on what Learning Reps and the Professional Learning personnel think is the best time for teachers/lecturers. If it is going to be held on a Saturday it is best to hold it in the morning only, most people do not want to attend a full day event on a Saturday. It is best to finish the event by around 1 pm if possible.

Catering is also important to the success of the event and consideration should be given to the time of day the event is being held and what is most appropriate in this regard. A lot of the events have included hot breakfast rolls on Saturday mornings as this also provides an opportunity for participants to network and chat with others. If it is an evening or afternoon event then sandwiches are usually provided.

Keeping your Local Association/Branch Secretary Updated:

If it has been established that there is a possibility of a joint event, the Learning Reps should let the Local Association Secretary/Branch Secretary know that it is likely an event will take place and keep them updated throughout the process of finalising the event.

This is courtesy and also the Local Association/Branch Secretary can assist in promoting the event to members.
Learning Reps should also contact the EIS Professional Learning Rep Co-ordinator to discuss the event and the timescale for promotion. 

Discussion can also take place with the Co-ordinator on the funds available to support the Professional Learning events and how the local authority/college/higher education institution can assist in this regard.

The Professional Learning Rep Co-ordinator can attend any meetings with the local authority/FE/HE Institution to assist with the theme of the event based on previous successful events.

Promotion of the Professional Learning Event:

As a general rule the event details should be finalised and promotion started 6/8 weeks before the event is due to take place. 

Once details are finalised promotional posters, including logos of all partners, can be produced by the EIS and distributed to all schools within the local authority area or within the college/higher education institution if it is an establishment based event.

Individual emails can also be sent to all members in the local authority area/college/higher education institution where the event is being held, with a link to the web-page which contains all the details of the event including the event poster.

If all the details are not finalised 6/8 weeks before the event an individual email can still be sent to members advising that an event is planned on a particular theme on a certain date and asking them to register an interest. 

This way the date of the event has been advised and it is possible to ascertain the likely numbers who will wish to attend. 

These people can then be offered the opportunity to register for the event/workshops first – an "early bird booking”.

It may also be possible, depending on when the event is going to be held, to include details of the event in the Scottish Education Journal, the EIS magazine, which is another good way of promoting the event.

It is important that the local authority/college/higher education institution promotes the event as widely as possible as well as the promotion carried out by the EIS.

An article about each event, once it has been held, appears in the Scottish Education Journal to promote this work. 

Registering for the Event:

If the Learning Rep is registering people for workshops they should do this as the registrations are received, a suggestion would be three lists:

(a) an alphabetical list of those registering;

(b) a list of when they registered (to ensure that if the workshops are over-subscribed the people who registered first will get their workshop choice);

(c) a list of each workshop with the names of those wishing to attend indicating in brackets whether it is their first, second or third choice. This allows you to see which workshops are filling up quickly and which workshops may not run. It is best to know this early on so that participants can be contacted and offered alternatives.

It is also important as it allows the Learning Rep to contact the workshop contributors to let them know that the numbers are small and the workshop might not be viable.

Participants should be advised if a workshop is not going ahead to allow them to register for another workshop.

If someone else is handling registration it is important that they advise the Learning Rep of numbers so that additional promotion can be undertaken if necessary.

Keynote speakers/workshop contributors should be advised of final numbers for the event. 

Administration/Evaluation of the Event:

Once all the registrations have been completed a list of participants should be drawn up to be signed on the day of the event. 

If there are workshops, a list of participants for each workshop should be produced and given to each workshop contributor so that they know how many people are attending their workshop. 

Professional Learning event packs containing information about Learning Reps and Professional Learning are available from the EIS Telephone 0131 225 6244.

Each event is evaluated to measure impact – it is important to ascertain whether the event has met expectations, whether further Professional Learning will be undertaken, and any suggestions participants have on the format and content for future events. 

Evaluation form templates for events featuring keynote speakers and workshops are included in this handbook and printed copies will be made available by the Co-ordinator for the event.

The Learning Rep should mention the evaluation form at the beginning of the event and build in a short time at the end of the event for the evaluations to be completed and handed in before participants leave.

It is also really important that the Learning Rep has a slot at each joint event to talk about their role and how they can help colleagues on a practical level. This slot backs up the Learning Rep Information Pack and it is a good idea for the Learning Rep to be around for a while after the event finishes to talk to anyone who wishes further information/guidance.

The EIS organises Presentation Skills training for Learning Reps to assist them in speaking at events, meetings etc and it is really worthwhile, particularly for new Learning Reps, to attend any such training when available.
Participants are requested to supply their email addresses on the evaluation form as they are contacted by the Co-ordinator within a few weeks of the event to ascertain if they have undertaken, or plan to undertake, Professional Learning.

The Learning Rep and local authority/college/higher education person should meet as soon as possible after the event to discuss the content of the evaluation and consider how to proceed in the future.

Guidance and assistance on all aspects of the organisation of the events can be obtained from:

Leigh Meechan email:
Telephone: 0131 225 6244.