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Rachel Stubley and Irene Schwab Hello and welcome to this edition of the RaPAL journal, which focuses particularly on the process of professional development for adult literacy practitioners. We, the editors, are both adult literacy teacher educators, and over the years we have worked to support trainee tutors in becoming skilled and dedicated teachers of language and literacies. Since the millennium, we have seen how gaining a subject specialist teaching qualification has helped many practitioners develop skills and understanding and move into a close and committed community of practice.

In the last 2 or 3 years, policy changes across the UK (e.g. following the publication of the Lingfield Report in 2012) have meant that qualifications are not valued as they once were, and funding for training has disappeared. Nevertheless, many teachers, both new and experienced, still value the opportunity for literacy specialist professional development, and many colleges and other employers still recognise the value of well-trained staff. We believe that professional development is a marvellous opportunity to extend and deepen practice. Such views are supported by research, which shows that being involved in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) supports good practice in teaching (Block and Mangieri, 2009; Fletcher, 2014).

The articles in this issue of the RaPAL Journal are examples of how Initial Teacher Education and CPD can promote reflection on issues of concern to teachers, and support creative thinking about how to deal with these. Section 1 starts with Helena Gannon's moving response to a learner's progress into work, and how her learner's life has been changed by becoming more confident with reading and writing. Jonathan Mann discusses how CPD has supported his development as a teacher of English on vocational courses; Joanne Sutton and Katie-Jane Knight reflect on how their perceptions have changed as they develop their teaching skills and become participants in their community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991); and Sonia Morris describes how, moving away from formal support mechanisms, using What's App offers peer support and empowerment.

In section 2, we can see further development of creative and innovative ideas through the work of Linda Ruas who considers how to cover sensitive and controversial issues in the classroom critically. Both Clare Tyrer and Sarah Telfer reflect on collaborative learning approaches, Clare through technology and Sarah through creative writing. Qasir Shah outlines his journey through a range of courses and what he has learned about literacy and his learning along the way

Section 3 (our academic peer-reviewed section) contains an extended piece by Angela Cahill. This is a fascinating and thoughtful description of her research project (conducted in the context of a Masters course), which explores the teaching of phonics with a small literacy group in Ireland within an overall social practices approach.

We believe these pieces are evidence of the value of CPD and reflection in helping us keep our practice dynamic and responsive. Professional development challenges us to take risks in our teaching, which is not easy. However, the writers in this issue of the Journal show us that the rewards can be considerable.

Finally, the editors have put together a list of some of their favourite and recommended resources for “learning literacies”. This is followed by the review section, which looks at two very different new titles. We hope the contributors to this edition of the RaPAL Journal will have inspired you to do some additional reading and/or professional development yourselves!

References Block, C. C. and Mangieri, J. N. (2009). Exemplary Literacy Teachers: What schools can do to promote success for all students. New York and London: The Guilford Press

Fletcher, J. (2014). 'A review of effective reading literacy practices for young adolescent 11 to 13 year old students'. Educational Review, 66 (3), 293-310.

Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lingfield, R. (October 2012). Professionalism in Further Education: Final Report of the Independent Review Panel London Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


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