In December 1968, the Association for Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education (ATCDE) called a meeting to establish a new ‘In-Service Section’. At that meeting Bob Gough, who was in charge of the Teachers’ Centre at Rachael Macmillan College of Education, met with Malcolm Lee from Doncaster Metropolitan Institute of HE and David Johnston from the Institute of Education, London University. Their friendship and continued collaboration marked the start of both an effective ATCDE In-service section and in 1974, the first issue of the British Journal of In-Service Education, today, the world renowned journal, Professional Development in Education.

It is important to understand the concept of In-Service at this time. A Schools Council had been established in 1964 which had given some thought to the In-Service situation but there was no co-ordinated plan. Teachers could opt to take an award bearing course as there were some secondments in those days, or to attend a Teachers’ Centre or to do nothing. A Committee of Inquiry on Teacher Education and Training set up in 1970 finally identified ‘In-Service’ as the third cycle and, importantly, recommended that teachers should be entitled to paid release for in-service education and training. Also that a network of ‘professional centres’ be established and that teachers in schools should have opportunities to take part in curriculum development projects. The landmark James report in 1972 then highlighted numerous concerns, in particular the overdependence on initial training as distinct from continuing education and training. Critically in 1987, ‘Specific Grants for INSET’ were introduced, the first major attempt to link policy and funding. This led to the establishment of many Departments of In-Service Education in both Colleges of Education and Universities.

From 1988 onwards, the annual conferences of what was now the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) In-Service Section attracted ever growing numbers, meeting at different Colleges and Universities around the country. We were very grateful for financial support received from NATFHE but the decision was taken to become financially independent. Thus, in 1991 we became the In-Service Tutors Association (ISTA), in 1995 the In-Service Professional Development Association (IPDA) and, in 2002 the International Professional Development Association, with a new website!

Activity and active engagement with members was the key to the growing membership of IPDA and it would be difficult to account for this success without acknowledging the work of the many committee members who have served the Association since its conception.*

In 2001 the Association elected its first President, Professor Ray Bolam and in 2003 annual prizes were introduced to acknowledge and reward outstanding professional development contributions.

Apart from the annual conferences, numerous seminars were organised with a target of at least three a year. The idea of setting up Regional/National Associations was supported by the Committee and to that end the annual conferences were held in Scotland (2005) and N. Ireland (2006) hoping to emulate the success of the then very active IPDA Wales.

As our international membership grew, ease of access was ever more critical, hence the decision in 2010 to hold the annual conference at the Aston University Conference Centre. By 2012 conference attendance reached over one hundred with colleagues from thirteen different countries attending.

The growth of our international membership has to be seen alongside the growth of the Journal as the two are very clearly linked. In 1998, the British Journal of Education became the Journal of In-Service Education, acknowledging the increasing numbers of international articles, finally changing to Professional Development in Education in 2009.

Again the success of the Journal, a world leader in its field, owes a great debt to all those who have served on the Editorial Board. There was a requirement for Board members to be IPDA members but care was taken in the Constitution to ensure the independence of the Editorial Board in relation to the quality of the journal. A policy was adopted in the 1990s to hold one Board meeting a year outside of the UK and this, coupled with attendance at organisations such as AERA, raised the profile of the Association as well as the Journal. We have been fortunate in having the active support of our publishers, previously Triangle Press, currently Routledge: Taylor Francis Group and our thanks go to them.

I sincerely believe that IPDA has made, and will continue to make, a contribution to continuing professional development. The issues of the 1970s, arising from a lack of co-ordination, have been supplanted today by what many see as an over-centralised and over- regulated system stifling the creativity of teachers. It is clear that there will always be a need for independent bodies to assess and hopefully limit the damage and IPDA is well placed to carry out that task.


Tony Bates
Hon Treasurer IPDA 1989-2012

A list of IPDA Officers from 1988 to 2012 is available from the archives on request. Please contact