Following from posts on CPD and discussions on Twitter I’ve decided to come up with the ‘ultimate’ model for CPD based around a school that is in some sort of federation/chain/pyramid. In my limited knowledge I believe that ‘Teaching School alliances’ had a similar remit but in my own experience can see little impact for all individuals across the alliance. I also think that the requirement to be ‘Outstanding’ is unhelpful. I think it’s naive to think that just because a school isn’t ‘Outstanding’ it can’t offer expertise.
These are first thoughts. I will add/edit as people inspire and comment.
One coordinator – several leaders
In this model I suggest the following roles:
CPD Community coordinator – Their role is to bring all school’s needs together. To oversee all sessions. To book and organise external consultants. To analyse the CPD needs fed in from schools to ensure that all are catered for. To make possible matches where needed. To maintain the directory of people and development sessions.
CPD leaders – At least one in each school. They pull together all their staff’s needs and feed them into the coordinator. They monitor participation. Where necessary, they authorise time in school hours when needed.
‘Experts’ (need to think of a better title)- these are the people who are included in the directory. Teachers, HLTAs, TAs, middle leaders, senior leaders, Governors, everyone! They offer their areas of expertise. They run development sessions. A clear, simple accessible database of the expert profiles is sent to all staff termly.
Subject teams – specialists who represent a specific subject. Hold a subject webinar/network meet once or twice a year. Have significant expertise/experience in their area. The ‘go to’ people for that area.
Use what you’ve got
There is a huge amount of expertise within a school. If you are working with more than one school than this rapidly multiplies.
How do we share our expertise so the right people are supporting those that need it?
Firstly, I suggest a simple but clear record of who can do what. Everyone in the CPD community should have access to it and it should be updated termly to keep it ‘live’. If I want support in ‘questioning’ for example, I should be able to easily search all the people in my CPD community that have offered ‘questioning’ as something they can advise/coach on. I should be able to contact them at any time. I shouldn’t have to go through a bureaucratic process. Giving their email is the simplest way of doing this. If I’d like to meet with them then we can arrange at a mutually convenient time or if necessary, my CPD budget ( I suggest giving teachers their own CPD here) can pay for supply/travel costs. There won’t be many cases where a whole day is needed.
All staff on upper pay scale could be asked to create a profile of what they can offer. Other staff can volunteer.You may wish to use ASTs/SLEs/SLT/Leading practitioners in slightly different ways but it is essential that they too get personalised CPD, they don’t just offer it for others. They’re often missed out.
Here is my example of what my CPD community profile might look like:
Staff can also offer development sessions focussed on what they can offer. For example, I might offer a session for teachers ‘Using data to support your learning’. I may get 1 or 2 colleagues but if this links to their development it is useful.
If you record these development sessions or even better, make them a live session so even if your CPD community colleagues are too far away, they can log-in and join the webinar session, you can then re-use them and start a bank of CPD videos.
This may even become part of a school’s appraisal system. As a CPD target you could offer development sessions and/or coach/mentor over the year and/or attend them.
Cost effective, quick & easy
One problem I can see with the teaching school model is that it is bureaucratic and expensive. This system means that you can contact anyone in the CPD community quickly and easily. Communication may just be one email and you get the answer you were looking for. Where longer amounts of time are needed this can be checked by the school CPD leader but if you are in charge of your own CPD budget you can work out costs and see what can be achieved.
There are many people who are willing to give their time and expertise for nothing. Whilst we shouldn’t exploit this, it is a hugely underused resource in schools.
The CPD community could consider what sort of ways people can be appropriately recognised for the work they do.
You may never meet
I’ve been harping on about this for a while. I think the power of CPD comes in sharing with people you may never meet in person. This is because technology has enabled us to share around the world without the need for travel. I truly believe that webinars are THE way forward for ensuring that CPD is appropriate, targeted, cost-effective and time-effective.
If the CPD community invest in online webinar software it will mean schools can collaborate from around the country.
Think of an academy chain scenario with schools around the country. You could ensure that every single English department collaborates and shares in an hour, between 4-5pm. I believe the power of this is yet unknown but I believe it has huge potential for minimal cost and time. They could do this for ALL subjects and beyond into key teaching areas including assessment, questioning, behaviour management etc The focuses are endless and as long as it is appropriate for one person it is a valuable use of time.
Buying in is cheaper
In situations where there may be a need for an external consultant or expert needed, schools can share the cost and the time. Some courses cost £200+ and with supply cover and transport can cost £500 for a member of staff to leave school. If the consultant can come to you and work with several members of staff, it will cost less and the programme can be personalised to the needs of the schools.
This doesn’t have to be a whole day of staff off timetable. If the consultant can come from 12pm-6pm then you can divide this up and avoid cover. To make the extra hours humane, ensure there are snacks and drinks for staff.
Ask the consultant if you can record the session. They may say ‘no’ however if they agree it will be for internal purposes only, this session can be available to all the staff in the CPD community that want to watch it. It is also then a valuable resource for the future.
Research across contexts
Whilst it may not be for everyone, these CPD communities would enable teachers carry out educational action research across contexts, with different students and if willing, involving different teachers.
There is a good chance that across a network of schools there will be someone who is interested in developing the same thing as me. We can share, collaborate and support each other.
Putting the individual in charge
The important aspect of this model is that individuals are in charge of their own CPD. They should only be involved in CPD that directly impacts their practice. No more whole school CPD. In this post I explain how CPD can be personalised and this would fit directly into this model.
There will also be limited need for ‘one off’ training that isn’t followed through. My areas for development should be tracked and monitored. In some cases, a teacher may have one thing they want to focus on for the entire year. In other cases, there might be some short term goals every term or less.
This model is not a “choose 3 development sessions each term” menu model. In this model, although teachers may choose what are the chances that throughout the year, the sessions will fit every single member of staff’s goals? The offered sessions should come from the CPD needs audited by the school CPD leader including appraisal targets. It needs to be montiored and rigorous but humane and reasonable.
This can be shown through the professional portfolio explained here. An individual can keep a log of everything they do, how they use it, whether it was effective etc all in one place. They can keep their appraisal targets, observations, webinars, notes, blogs, reflections all in one place.
I propose all members of staff engage in this model including support staff and governors.
Impact? Did it work?
This is the crux. Have the development sessions/coaching/mentoring/emails worked?
It is often impossible to evidence this but we can try. David Weston (@informed_edu) from NTEN has listed what makes effective CPD:
I also think that all evaluations, evidence of impact etc should be shared in an appropriate format with everyone involved. It shouldn’t just be the CPD coordinator or CPD leaders saying ‘it all worked really well’, it needs honest, reflective and helpful feedback that should be used to inform the next year of training.
I think the CPD community model could meet most if not all of these. It’s a huge proposal but I think that if done properly it would save schools money and time and overall provide more effective CPD than some do at the moment.
I believe that at the end of each academic year all staff should be able to say: