Most careers require a certain amount of CPD in order to stay at the forefront of methodology, technology, process, or all of the above.
When it comes to teaching however, it is an essential part of keeping lessons current and yourself engaged in your career.
It also provides you with the opportunity to take your career in a new direction, developing skills to support children with Special Educational Needs. Or that can help the school as a whole.
Your school will have its own policy regarding CPD provision, the impact CPD should have, coaching or research requirements and – of course – budget.
However, the Standard for Teacher’s Professional Development from the Department for Education outlines expectations for CPD and what you should do to request personal development from your school.
Why CPD is Important for Teachers
Schools across the UK invest around £900 million on CPD including traditional training days through to online distance learning courses.
CPD allows primary and secondary school teachers to keep up to date with the latest developments and best practices. These can be used by you to enhance everyday teaching.
Teaching methods are continually developing, and CPD gives you the opportunity to learn new techniques and strategies.
It can also give you the knowledge and skills to support specific needs among students that aren’t always covered in mainstream teacher training. Such as how to support students with disabilities or quite specific special education needs.
Personal development offers you one of the best ways to improve your skills, increase your overall job satisfaction and enhance your lessons. Across an entire school it can have a profoundly positive effect.
The overriding purpose of CPD is create an environment where continuous improvement and a high quality of teaching is the norm. CPD should also address development needs, maximise strengths and enable all teachers to meet the challenge of modern teaching.
What CPD needs to Achieve
The Department for Education’s guidelines dictate that teachers are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
This means you are required to objectively assess your abilities and identify training that would bridge any gaps in your knowledge. Or help you improve any areas of weakness.
The DfE states it is up to the teacher to respond to advice and feedback from colleagues and leadership, and identify appropriate professional development programmes.
In other words, where specific areas of focus have been identified as part of your development plan, it is up to you to find a suitable course.
For any course you find, you will need to be able to identify how it meets the requirements of your development plan. And any benefits to the school and your students or pupils. This includes where it relates to specific parts of the curriculum.
You are to know and understand the relevant subjects and areas of the curriculum relevant to you and assess their effectiveness. And your ability to deliver the subject matter.
You are also expected to reflect on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching. This – in turn – will give you the needed insight into where to improve or where your interests lie.
The DfE doesn’t actually outline any specific requirement for content, duration or method any CPD programmes the school adopts.
It is up to each school to determine what qualifies as CPD and how to implement it.
Some schools may decide to administrate this at the department level – allow department heads to identify with their team what courses would be beneficial.
In other schools this is handled by a dedicated CPD co-ordinator. Either way, the school has quite a lot of autonomy when it comes to defining CPD.
The DfE are clear that personal development of teachers must be a partnership between teachers, headteachers and leadership teams.
They outline a set of criteria to measure the success of this collaboration:
- CPD should focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes
- Your training should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
- It should include collaboration and expert challenge
- Development programmes should be sustained over time
- Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership
Ofsted has a similar definition – stating that CPD should be “aligned with the curriculum, and the extent to which this develops teachers’ content knowledge and teaching content knowledge over time, so that they are able to deliver better teaching for pupils.”
In other words, CPD should help to make you a better teacher. Which is pretty reasonable considering the objective of any training course is to make you better at something.
Can you Request CPD?
Schools will generally outline their CPD policies and make such documentation available to all staff. It will also outline how to request CPD provision.
While your school may have a CPD lead or CPD co-ordinator, you are within your rights to identify and request a specific CPD course. Especially if it relates to an objective set out following your performance review.
To give yourself the best chance of getting your application approved, try to link the CPD course outcomes with the school’s development plan. Or indicate how it will positively impact your teaching and your students.
You should also include any research or other evidence that demonstrates the value of the course. Where there is a cost, include that too.
If your chosen CPD course is online, then it is easier to work around time allocated to teaching. Otherwise you will also have to include the impact of staffing and how you propose to mitigate that.
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