Shaun Ellison wrote in his excellent book – Perfect Teacher Led CPD – ‘A school is only ever as good as its teachers.’ However it seems to me that people outside of the classroom, but have a huge control over what they think education should be, seem to forget this. Education it seems is always in a state of flux. Once as a professional body we get use to the changes, a new wave of educational thinking and reform come into play. That is why it as a school, as teachers and as colleagues we are best placed to deal with this and ensure the best for our students. There is a wealth of knowledge in every school; experienced teachers who have seen and done it all, new teachers to the profession that are up to date with modern educational ideas and teachers who have experience from other schools to ensure we do not get insular. It is our professional duty to develop our subject knowledge and teaching skill, to collaborate together and engage in a dialogue about to do this. With these thoughts ringing in my head, I ventured out of my comfort zone within the PE Department and got involved in the delivery of whole school CPD.
Review and Reflect
The first thing I did was try to gain some feedback from my colleagues. I questionnaired the whole teaching staff and then spoke to every Head of Department individually about their feelings of the current delivery of CPD. The feedback was overwhelmingly negative. The key concerns by staff were:
- There was no flexibility in CPD
- Too much CPD was delivered lecture style and by someone who didn’t have the slightest knowledge of the context of the school
- There was no time given to go deeper into CPD that was actually interesting or of perceived benefit
- You had no choice in the areas of CPD being delivered
- No credit was given for things done outside the normal whole school and twilight CPD sessions
- The area of subject knowledge wasn’t considered part of CPD
I reviewed our current provision:
3 Whole School CPD sessions on INSET days of which SLT chose the topics. On the whole these session were well received, because it gave staff the chance to mix with others outside their own department. However the main issued raised was that although the topics/speaker/information was interesting it didn’t take into context of the school and was quickly forgotten in the hustle and bustle of day to day teaching. There was no time planned for follow up and potential implementation.
6 Twilight CPD sessions – last year these were: What are QR Codes, E-Safety, How to use Edmodo, Practical uses of the iPad in the classroom, how to write a good report, UCAS statement writing. Whilst some were interesting, they didn’t really set the world alight.
Implementation of CPD 2014/2015
This year the school has tried to change that and deliver a system of CPD that rectifies the main issues raised by colleagues. A group of teachers under guidance of an Assistant Head are working together to ensure CPD is flexible, meaningful and looks to improve practice. We have introduced a ‘credit’ system very much like in medicine. We want all staff to gain 8 Credits during the year (obviously staff who are on a part time contract have their credit target changed). It usually works out that an hour of CPD works out as a credit. Those who want to run CPD within the school will obviously gain extra credit.
So what are we offering as a school this year as CPD?
Teaching and Learning Communities:
At the end of last year we gave teachers 10 areas from Hattie’s effect sizes to vote for as the focus of the TLC’s. Over 70% of staff voted for a focus of Marking and Feedback. The TLC’s are small groups of teachers (a minimum of three from different departments to have them run) with a specific focus and a view to improving practice and then sharing with the rest of the school community.
- DIRT – How to incorporate dedicated improvement and reflection time into lessons. Use this method to focus students’ attention on how to make progress instead of reliance on grades.
- Verbal Feedback – How to log, record, show progress and improve both teacher and student verbal feedback.
- Peer and Self Marking – Teaching students how to give good feedback and the validation process by teachers.
- Differentiation through homework tasks.
- Feedback and Marking to stretch the highly able
- Life after levels – to research and implement a new marking system for Years 7 to 9 for next academic year
- Marking in improve literacy skills
- Feedback and marking to support EAL students and their families
Some teachers wanted to be involved in TLCs but felt we hadn’t supplied enough choice. We invited them to run their own:
- E-Feedback – using technology to help with feedback in the classroom and at home
- Learning Conversations – how to develop learning logs between staff and students
- Learning how to learn – how current research in cognitive science can aid teaching and learning.
As a member of a community your responsibility is to attend a minimum of 1 x half-termly meeting (30 minute minimum), think of a project that will improve your practice, an observation of a group member with regards to project focus, followed by written feedback. The aim of the group is that there is a sharing of knowledge and experience and you can discuss your project with other teachers.
Part of one of the INSET days will be given to groups presenting their findings on their specific focus within Marking and Feedback. Involvement in a TLC would be 8 credits.
This is an informal sharing of good practice held in the school canteen one morning a month and lasts for 20 minutes. Anybody can attend and tea, coffee and danish are provided for free. Everyone who attends must bring something they have done in lessons to share with the rest of the group.
This is a formal sharing of good practice and is open to anyone to attend. The format is 10 minute presentation and 5 minute Q and A. This again takes place one morning a month. We have asked teachers we know with strengths to share their good practice, resources and then open up to questions for their colleagues afterwards. This is our programme this year:
- Electronic Feedback
- Standards, Expectations and Behaviour for 6th Form
- What is SOLO
- Virtual Teacher, Real Teaching
- University Tutorial and Lecture style teaching
- Promoting Wellbeing and Mindfulness before exams
- Effective Questioning
- How to create a positive learning environment
- Assessment for learning, or of learning?
- Year 7 to 9 Behaviour Management strategies after exams
Attendance at a combination of at least 6 Teach Eats or Teach Meets earns a credit.
A number of experienced teachers have been trained as coaches. This is an ‘optional service’ and completely private between the teacher and the coach. Any teacher may ask for coaching with a specific focus. Usually this would involve an initial meeting to work through the focus, an observation and then a final meeting. Heads of Department can use it too, if they feel that a member of their department requires extra support. There are 3 credits attached to coaching.
Twilight CPD Sessions:
We are still offering the traditional 6 after schools Twilight CPD sessions. We asked all staff to send us their suggestions and then got them to vote. The top 6 options this year are:
- How to observe a lesson effectively
- Tackling Homophobic Bullying
- Stretch and Challenge
- 4Matrix and Progress 8
- Supporting PP and EAL students
- Using Technology in the classroom
- Good practices in behaviour management
Attendance at a CPD session is worth 1 credit.
This is a year long course with certification (internally) for aspiring and new Heads of Department. It is very similar in content and delivery to the Middle Leaders Programme that is deliver by the National College of Teaching and Leadership. This involves attending 6 meetings, 360 diagnostic, a project to improve an area of leadership and attendance at another school for a day.
Involvement on this course would award you 8 credits.
To ensure greater flexibility staff can apply for CPD credits personally to SLT. Things that have already been considered and signed off this year that have never in the past: rugby coaching course, attendance at new examination courses, completing a Masters or PhD, Chemistry/Biology to Physics Teacher conversion course, lesson observations in different department, visit to school and share good practice and departmental INSET. This has been very well received by most of the teaching staff and allows them to be able to rewarded for what they do outside of school, especially if it is building subject knowledge.
All CPD has to be logged via Bluesky Education. The logging involves filling in details of the CPD with personal reflection on impact and then a Senior Leader approving. Whilst the change in delivery of CPD seems to be very welcome (at least at the moment), the onus of responsibility on the individual teacher to log their CPD has caused a few grumbles, especially comments regarding workload. Whilst I understand accountability, there needs to be a way of making this easier for the staff to do. On a personal note I love Bluesky and find it very user friendly and makes me think about the CPD I have been involved in.
What I hope for the future of CPD at my school:
I hope that this year we can deliver a range of opportunities that will engage, enthuse and motivate other teachers. To allow them to develop their strength, to reflect and improve areas of development or just have the chance to talk to other staff outside of their department. (Which I think can be some of the most useful CPD there is). CPD shouldn’t be about telling a teacher what you should be doing, as there is no one more knowledgeable about your subject, your classroom and the children you teach then you. However CPD provision should support and facilitate your time in school, with a particular focus on refining teaching practices you do and the improvement of the learning of your students. If as a teacher you are not getting anything out of CPD, then perhaps you should look to take on the responsibility.
I’d be very interested in hearing views from other teachers about what we are offering and how it could be improved. One area that I still haven’t got my head around is the impact that CPD should have. I know I have to review our provision at the end of the year, but I can only think in terms of qualitative data gained from teachers. From my reading and understanding, effective CPD should have an impact on the learning of students. I’m just not sure how to go about gaining that information.