Professional learning and practitioner research in Wales: Exploring the future for professional agency in a 'learning country'

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    Welsh Government is at a crucial stage in the process of reforming education. Over recent years, significant attempts have been made to build a distinctive education system, drawing inspiration from a range of international influences. Policy and provision are being reconceptualised in Wales, and there is a growing acknowledgement that professional autonomy should be further developed (Wales, 2017).
    The ambition is for a workforce – all of those working with children and young people – which prioritises evidence informed practice as central to professional learning. This is underpinned by reflection and close to practice research, supported by evidence from large-scale research projects in Wales and elsewhere. Welsh Government is involving universities, publishers, the inspectorate and other agencies to co-construct a policy for professional learning that includes a career-long commitment for practitioners to reflect upon, and be involved in, research.
    Previously in Wales, practitioners have tended to engage in research inspired by their own interests and values, often resulting in a deeper sense of professional agency (Hutt and Haywood, 2018). Now, this engagement is framed through statutory professional standards, including an expectation to engage in research. Participation becomes a mandated professional duty. This approach inevitably brings tensions between individual agency and centralised policy and practice. What are the effects on perceptions of professional agency in these contexts?
    This symposium focuses on three sectors of professional practice in Wales, teachers, lecturers and youth workers, who are increasingly engaged in collaborative endeavour. They have differing cultures and professional standards. The symposium will present distinctive narratives (Clandinin, 2016) on learning, enquiry and agency, collected by a team at USW, working across the broad base of professional learning. It will explore the different ways practitioner learning is understood and conceptualised.

    Clandinin, D.J. (2016) Engaging in Narrative Inquiry. Kindle format [e-book reader]. Available at: (Accessed: 12 April 2018).
    Hutt, M. and Haywood, S. (2018) The national Professional Learning offer and the allocation of time. Final report. Submitted to Welsh Government available from: (Accessed: 20 May 2019).
    Wales, The Education Directorate (2017) Our National Mission. Available at (Accessed 12 April 2019).
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventCARN/ ALARA Conference Split 2019 - Hotel President, Split, Croatia
    Duration: 17 Oct 201920 Oct 2019


    ConferenceCARN/ ALARA Conference Split 2019


    • Professional learning
    • professional standards
    • agency
    • action research
    • reflective practice


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