A sea change in CPD
In independent schools particularly, a quiet, but welcome and significant sea change is underway. Heads have abandoned condensing CPD into the busy start-of-term schedules or competing with all other schools for the same trainers on the same days. Instead, the adoption of very different models have emerged.
Changing training content
One immediate part of the revolution in CPD is the change in courses now being sought by schools. Ambitious schools now have very different expectations for the content of their staff training. In place of traditional, subject based courses, schools have placed greater significance to school-wide learner focussed themes. Courses for reinforcing active learning, enabling stretch and challenge, fostering higher order thinking and growth mindsets, or ensuring excellent pupil outcomes are proving more successful in energising teachers’ practice and providing relevant development for teachers of all subjects and of all levels of experience.
ISI are now including judgement criteria on teaching methodology and the learning and progress demonstrated by the pupils. Pupil outcomes are now under much closer scrutiny.
These changes have been driven by a number of factors. Compelling educational research like Hattie’s and Dweck’s have been one key influence on teacher development. Research has highlighted the aspects of teaching practice that have the greatest effect on pupil outcomes and schools are keen to be well informed. Equally teachers are wanting to demonstrate and master a new set of aptitudes and skills in their practice and seeking training that helps unlock their pupls’ learning capability. Another significant factor that has changed expectations of teacher training is the shift in focus of ISI inspections. ISI are now including judgement criteria on teaching methodology and the learning and progress demonstrated by the pupils. Pupil outcomes are now under much closer scrutiny.
The rethinking of CPD delivery
Fresher and more flexible approaches to the timing and delivery of CPD have also proven more successful in engaging the whole staff.
One approach has been to establish whole school development days giving internal staff an opportunity to present their practice alongside external experts in a programme of elective workshops. ‘Through’ schools in particular are combining forces to make these a refreshing opportunity to commune across the prep/ secondary divide and share good practice.
Other approaches include inviting keynote speakers with follow-up sessions to reenergised the ‘twilight training’ format. Also, breaking from the ‘thou shalt train after school’ tradition, external trainers are being booked in term time to give a carousel of training sessions making use of departmental meeting time and ‘non contact’ periods. This is allowing all staff to attend and allowing delivery to be targeted and relevent. These methods have proven time and cost effective and staff have welcomed the opportunity to take part in flexible and convenient sessions tailored to their year group or subject area in smaller groups.
Expecting teachers to attend an external course and ‘cascade’ the details is being seen as unfair, unrealistic and adding little value.
In the majority of cases, expecting teachers to attend an external course and ‘cascade’ the details have been eclipsed by these methods of flexible in-house training and the result has been CPD becomes a shared and accessible event for all departments and phases.
Coaching, mentoring and sustained support
More striking changes in independent school CPD thinking has been to introduce more coaching and mentoring programmes. Middle leaders and the leads in safeguarding, academic and pastoral areas have all found having a mentor to guide and instruct them has been more reassuring and enlightening than attending an external day course. Lead teams have benefited from coaching in areas such as lesson observations, having difficult conversations and effecting new measures. Most significantly, coaching and mentoring has emerged as powerful way forward in preparing for inspection.
How to take part in the revolution
These measures have but the ‘C’ back into CPD. Staff and school development is moving from being a bolt-on or box-ticked once a term to a continued and purposeful schedule of events that all staff are expected to contribute to and engage with.
To give useful guidance in rethinking your CPD, JMC will be publishing a series of blogs in which school leaders discuss how the measures above have been put into practice and the changes they have seen. Use the ‘Contact us’ tool or Subscribe box below to ensure you don’t miss these enlightening articles as they are published.