Ensuring professional
development is 

While continuing professional development (CPD) plays a key role in many sectors, in order to be truly effective when it comes to teaching, a school has to know the specific developmental needs of its staff, and ensure that training will positively impact student outcomes. Damien Roberts, director and co-founder of SchooliP discusses…

Teaching is one of the most important professions that affects our future generation; therefore improvement can only be achieved if we invest in effective professional development that will help build skills and develop classroom practices.

The Department for Education (DfE) is now recognising the need to implement more robust training and support with its “Standard for teachers’ professional development” and the associated guidancefor schools.

The two documents should be used in conjunction to enable schools to address and manage professional development; forming a strong partnership between headteachers, the senior leadership team, teachers and training providers, with ongoing discussion, support and collaboration being encouraged between all parties.

Schools should regularly look to invest in training courses for its teachers, however, to really reap the benefits and gain real value, a school must first identify the specific developmental needs of its staff to ensure that the proposed training sessions will positively impact student outcomes.

So where do we start?

There are many different types of training; in-house, external, day training, residential courses, online training, conferences, and much more. The investment in time and money can be significant, so the benefits must match up to this. When it comes to CPD, there are a number of considerations that should be made.

1. Think of your long-term goals and what you want to achieve: Are you hoping to take a closer look at the way you assess your pupils? Would you like to find inspiration in using new technology to teach the curriculum? You may have a list of priorities from your own professional development review, or perhaps there’s something within the school-wide improvement plan that you want to up skill in, in order to contribute towards the overall goals.

2. Secondly,choose the training that’s right for you: Consider the benefits you’ll gain from attending the course, such as ongoing support or resources to bring back and share with colleagues. Don’t just choose based on what is advertised either; insight and recommendations from peers is far more valuable than anything.Feedback could come in the form of discussions, reviews or ratings from colleagues or staff from neighbouring schools or institutions. It’s a great way of working out how to use your time wisely, especially with ever-increasing workloads.

3. Ensure it’s going to provide long-term gain: Following the training session, you’ll need to make sure that what you’ve learned is embedded and consolidated. By creating a digital CPD record, you can leave notes on the immediate effects of the course, and then monitor those effects over the course of a predefined timescale (for example, three or six months). This will help assess the long-term impact of what you’ve learned. This record can then be accessed by other members of staff in your school looking to attend similar sessions, or you can send a link to the details to the rest of your department as a recommendation. Working this way using a central digital system also provides a platform for ongoing discussion, meaning that other teachers can ask their own specific questions about the course, and you can add updates about your progress as you go!

Utilising technology throughout the CPD process not only keeps everything in a central platform, but allows you to reflect and review data quickly and easily at any point throughout the year. This way of extracting information can be particularly useful for senior leaders and Ofsted, who can access a whole catalogue of CPD information, including reviews and recommendations, which they can use to justify expenditure, or evidence where they have addressed areas for development. Having a range of pre-populated CPD information all available at a push of a button means that professional development co-coordinators can assign and distribute courses very quickly, helping to both save time and streamline the entire process.

Identifying the right CPD courses can be hugely valuable to each individual’s personal career development, which subsequently has a positive impact on providing students with the best possible learning experience. Furthermore, being able to share this experience and best practice with colleagues can only lead to greater collaboration and whole-school improvement. Conducting all of this online takes the process to the next level, helping schools save time and money, while ensuring every teacher gets the support and training that they need.

For more information on improving professional development, click here.

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