What’s on the calendar for tonight?
It’s 4.30 and you have been ushered into a room for mandatory hours of ‘CPD’. Over 47 slides on slips, trips and hazards, ‘differentiation’ or whatever generic training you have had recently. The activities are often verging upon insulting your intelligence. ‘In your groups, mindmap [fill in the blank]’. You’re told ‘You must accrue 30 hours of CPD upon your record’. Shall you invent an action research project to clock up the hours? Your school/college is recycling the same carousel of training (Yes, I have used Kahoot before) so they can ‘evidence’ their commitment to your professional development. We must put a stop to this. A teacher’s time is so pressured already. That time could well be used more effectively. We should demand training that is relevant, effective and will have a positive outcome for ourselves and our students.
What are the ingredients of an effective CPD programme?
In an old report published by Ofsted (2010) it helpfully spelt out the ingredients needed for an effective professional development programme. These ingredients seem to be as relevant as ever and included:
- Regular self-review and identification of key priorities
- That CPD should be balanced carefully between the institutional needs and the requirements identified by the individual.
- That there needs to be flexibility with time and resources to allow for effective professional development. Including the time needed to allow staff to reflect on what they have learnt.
- The need for collaboration with other institutions and a judicious use of external providers.
In contrast, a weak CPD programme is often the result of:
- Lack of planning. This includes giving someone a brief to deliver training the day before it is due. The quality is likely to be poor. Teachers like students, will have different abilities that need to be planned for. The event should be purposeful and engaging.
- Recycled CPD. CPD that revisits the same issues and run by the same people. Training becomes stale.
- Money. Concerns over value for money/lack of budget. Some centres happily blow their budgets on one or two keynote speakers (often alarmist consultants discussing Ofsted) with a disregard for the individual training needs of their staff.
- Weak self-evaluation. The centre therefore fails to identify training needs of the institution and the individual.
- Limited relevance. Training events that give limited practical examples on how it can be applied. Staff consequently, do not see the relevance to their own role or practice.
- When professional development is seen as a sanction (Those ‘supportive’ plans are often seen otherwise).
- CPD that focuses too much upon the front line/lower levels of the organisation. CPD needs to include everyone. If we are stale at the top, it will continue throughout.
- Failure to balance institutional and individual needs. Of course, there will still be the need for ‘all staff’ training but employees need the opportunity to highlight their own training needs. We must trust that individual staff are professionals. Individuals must be afforded the time and money for this training. That may include off-site visits, training with exam boards, time to sit with a peer. If the CPD schedule or budget does not allow for this, then this is a mismanagement of the training programme.
Call to action
Do you recognise the ingredients of a weak CPD programme in your centre? Let’s put a stop to generic training carousels. If it is not good enough for the classroom, then it shouldn’t be good enough in the theatre at 4.30. Centres must invest in their staff and we must insist upon the time and money for relevant CPD. Those that are attending interviews should ask questions about the training programmes they should expect. Highlight relevant courses or ideas during your Appraisals and seek opportunities to feed in to the training calendar.
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