I took over the CPD programme at Berkhamsted in 2013 and after considering the work at Cramlington Learning Village, I devised a programme that:
- was role specific;
- included research bursaries for action research;
- catered for personal well-being as well as pedagogical concerns;
- enabled teachers at school to access leading experts through twilight sessions and the TLAB conferences by staying in the school grounds.
At the end of each twilight CPD session, I send a survey to all staff asking for a rating and comments on the session itself (comments are anonymous). This is an important part of any project in school – close monitoring allows for calibration and circumvents frustration from colleagues. The stats for this year are below:
- 89% think the sessions were useful (up from 83% last year);
- 6% think the sessions were not useful (down from 12% last year).
- 5% were unsure about the usefulness of the session (same as last year).
Although pleased that the usefulness rating has increased, there is still more work to be done on the making sure the sessions are relevant to everyone and this will form the focus for next year. The online CPD portal (built in SharePoint) will be available for staff to request CPD and be linked to their professional development targets created by the appraisal system. On the ‘unsure’ rating, the contextual comments were usually focussed on the need to think more carefully about the training in relation to the teacher’s work. I think this is a good thing – the ‘slow hunch‘ or diffuse thinking is an essential process in making ideas stick.
Next year, I will hand over the CPD project to my colleague Rosie McColl, Deputy Head at Berkhamsted Girls. There are a few lessons I will take away that will stay with me:
- Any CPD needs to be part of the wider strategic framework and not some ‘bolt on’ with a trendy speaker launching a ‘big idea’ which is not really mentioned again;
- Teacher research based on classroom skills/pedagogy is invaluable;
- Time throughout the year should be given over for CPD;
- Work should be shared across the school community at regular intervals;
- You should be wary of the performativity aspect of CPD when considering impact (it may look different but nothing has substantively changed);
- A relentless focus on a few areas is best (see Greg McKeown’s Essentialism);
- CPD should take a holistic view (personal well-being as a clear example).
Rosie will do a great job next year as the school moves towards exploring Building Learning Power in greater detail.