The teaching profession is built around learning and knowledge. Teachers are challenged to not just pass on information but instil a genuine sense of understanding in their pupils or students.
It’s a challenging yet rewarding job. However, in order to stay motivated and capable of delivering the best possible lessons, teachers need teaching too.
Continuing Professional Development (or CPD) is essential to remaining a competent, effective and innovative educator. That applies to all teachers, whether you’re primary, secondary or a university lecturer.
Setting time aside to invest in your own learning can help to reinvigorate your career or even take it in a new and unexpected direction.
The importance of CPD can’t be understated – hence its emphasis during appraisals. Essentially your school sees the value in your personal development, so you should too.
Fortunately, there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to CPD courses. So you’ll have no trouble finding a training programme that can meet your personal and professional requirements.
The importance of CPD
Any headteacher worth their salt fully sees the value in their teachers investing in themselves. It improves teaching outcomes; it improves grades and enriches the schools as a whole.
However, most primary and secondary schools only allocate around 0.5% of their budget to CPD. A 2017 survey of 20,000 teachers indicated that their schools had zero budget for CPD.
Budget cuts and time constraints add up and it can create an environment in which personal development gets put (eternally) on the back burner.
This can lead to burnout and stale teaching practices and poor student achievement.
CPD is essential to both primary and secondary teachers to build learning strategies, develop interaction skills and develop specialist knowledge to support children achieve.
The investment in yourself in this way can help with motivation, confidence and renew your commitment to teaching. The skills you learn can introduce you to entirely new ways of teaching, pastoral care and engaging students with their learning.
Because CPD is available in many different formats, covering a host of different subjects, there is a course available to meet almost any personal development goal.
Which is essentially the point. It is designed to help you continually improve in your career, improve the quality of your teaching and foster excellence among your pupils or students.
It will also allow you to develop your confidence and presentation skills as you can present back what you’ve learned to your colleagues. In this way everyone benefits from your investment.
What you can learn
The prevalence of distance learning providers makes CPD courses more accessible too. It also solves the problem of having to be in two places at once.
Because study can happen around teaching hours, you don’t have to find cover for your lessons or any of the other headaches taking a day out of school brings.
CPD course are designed to give you the tools you need to deliver your lessons as effectively as possible in an increasingly challenging environment.
Education is constantly changing either through political or social pressures so keeping pace with best practices and leading-edge teaching methods is key.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) section of the UK National Education Union states that CPD for primary and secondary teachers can incorporate:
- Training courses and workshops
- Studying for a qualification or accreditation
- Online courses/webinars/podcasts
- Observation and shadowing
- Peer group exchanges
- Attending exhibitions and conferences
- International exchanges
- Self-reflection, personal reading or research
- What Makes Effective CPD for Teachers?
For CPD to be effective it has to be:
- Evidence-based – what research underpins the training?
- Practical – how can you apply what you’ve learned?
- Affordable – budgets are tight so you need to spend the school’s money responsibly
- Enjoyable – it has to be worth your time not only from a practical standpoint, but you need to have found the experience valuable too
It’s not always easy to find a course that ticks all the boxes. Not least because a lot of providers are in it for the money, rather than to produce something of value.
This can be frustrating for teachers and SLTs alike as schools can’t afford to waste money on courses that won’t provide value.
Always check the course provider is accredited in some way. Reputable distance learning providers have to jump through the same hoops as schools do when it comes to their courses. So they’re a good place to start.
CPD for Primary and Secondary Teachers
The Department for Education encourage teachers to complete CPD each year. This is sometimes easier said than done but it’s important all the same.
Regardless, when planning your CPD you need to ensure that any course you take will be effective and add value to you and the school.
Before enrolling on to any CPD course you should consider the following to ensure it’s going to deliver on its promises:
Identified Need – Does it meet an identified requirement or school objective? If the course description is vague and woolly then chances are the course will be the same.
Relevance – Is it relevant to your learning out comes or area of specialism. Not every course is going to be suitable and they shouldn’t be one size fits all. Be discerning so you get the most value out of the experience.
Ongoing Learning – Many courses are useful but give you nowhere to go once you’ve finished. The best CPD courses are the ones that encourage you to develop your learning further. Either through additional courses or independent research and learning.
Tutor Support – The course providers should provide you with tutor support throughout the course and – ideally – afterwards too.
Transferrable Skills – The course material should be easily digestible and transferable. While teaching is a solitary profession at times, schools are at their best when knowledge is shared.
The course should encourage you to share what you’ve learned with you colleagues, as opposed to making sure the whole school has to enrol to get the benefit.
CPD is an essential yet rewarding experience when you find the right course. It allows you to grapple with new information, new skills and new approaches.
It also gives you the opportunity to reflect on your career and – through the knowledge you’ve gained – decide what the next steps are.
It’s an empowering and rewarding experience that should be seized upon.
learndirect are a leading provider of distance learning courses, offering a wide range of online CPD, teaching and educational courses for teachers.
To below view the courses available or speak to a member of our sales team who will be able to advise you further.