Ultimate CPD – the CPD community model


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:


A suggestion of what I might be able to offer

It looks like a Top Trump but it isn’t supposed to make one person ‘better’ than another.

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:

From @informed_ed David Weston

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:

” This year I developed my teaching/role by doing X it has made impact Y. I have used CPD time wisely.I have not been ‘told’ what I’m doing but have designed my own programme. I have enjoyed my CPD”


Exam factories


I had a very interesting conversation with my niece yesterday. She’s in year 11 in a secondary school, which has just come out of special measures. She is a bright and articulate young lady and told me the following things that I could only sit and nod at, out of frustration & empathy rather than with agreement.

In September of year 11, her school decided that they would enter the students for iGCSE English ( I’m not sure if it was as well as normal GCSE or instead). The plan was to enter them for the November exam. For this to work they had to complete iGCSE coursework in this very short period of time. They were ‘made’ to stay behind after normal school hours to get this coursework done in time. But then of course, in October the Government decided to change the rules about early entry GCSEs and that the results from these would not count in the schools headline figures in the summer. Because of this, they dropped the iGCSE for all the students. They’d just worked incredibly hard on coursework to be told it wasn’t worth anything. As you can imagine this didn’t make the students feel valued. She even asked a member of staff about it and their reply was along the lines of ‘we have no choice’.

I think this was the beginning of her realisation that actually she wasn’t an individual for whom the school wanted to develop and nurture, but a number. A statistic. Her following anecdotes supported this hypothesis.

She told me that in the year 11 assemblies leading up to the exams, the assembly leader has made a big deal of the ‘count down’ to how much time they had left. “You’ve only got two months now” etc I think this is probably an understabable method of trying to get students focused. However she then told me that an assembly leader said something like “the school has paid a significant amount of money  for you to do these exams. If you let us down by not doing well, you’ve wasted our money”. This is horrific emotional blackmail. I was seriously unimpressed.

Also, the school has not run any trips for students since they went into SM. Her memories of her year 7-9 trips are the type of memories you recall twenty or more years later. They are, for most, some of the most memorable times ‘at school’.  Why have they stopped them? Do they feel under pressure to have children in the class room every day possible?

Finally, she explained how she felt that everything in the past year was about ‘how to do an exam’. She explained all the techniques she’s been taught. She felt that whilst she now knows how to write exams she hasn’t been prepared for life beyond secondary school. She said that she and her peers don’t know how to write a CV, apply for a bank account or to write their application for college.  Whilst discussing politics she admitted that she hadn’t been taught any of it.  It was my sister in law who has told her the basics.  This is the part that really saddened me. Schools are required to present a balanced and broad curriculum. It doesn’t sound like she’s had that in the past two years.

She was so clear about how these things made her and her peers feel. She suggested plausible alternatives on how to make the experience of year 11 balanced but effective.

So, whilst I’m sure the school is hoping for better results this summer, I really hope at some point someone in the organisation or failing that, an inspector speaks to the children about their experiences. I hope that they take on board that we have the privilege of working with these bright, articulate students who do want the best for themselves in terms of results but also in terms of being prepared for life. Otherwise we’re just running exams factories.







These are her and my opinions and interpretations.

Humane leadership in schools


A few things have inspired this post including a post from @msHMFL  and then this account of a headteacher basically ‘conning’ his/her staff.

 What does being a humane leader mean in the context of a school?

Remember what a full timetable of teaching with duties, is like

Whilst the lives are leaders involve different responsibilities and possibly more varied scenarios, these are not more important than a teacher’s. They are equally challenging and can be equally stressful. A tough class for 1 hour can be as stressful as a tough meeting for 1 hour but neither is more important. A leader that remembers this will have empathy and in turn will display humanity to a team. Without this, a hierarchical attitude will divide leadership & teaching staff. Not a good recipe.

‘Life’ doesn’t always conveniently occur in holiday time

Whilst teachers have more than the average person’s ‘holiday’ or I prefer to say ‘time out of the school building’, key life events do not always conveniently fall in these times. People need time off. The tricky aspect of this for a leader is what should be allowed/not allowed.

What is the humane solution to a request for time off?

If it were you in the position, what would you hope a leader would say to you?

Whilst leaders need to balance the good of the school community with that of individual needs, the humane approach pays dividends in terms of loyalty and future relations.

“Do what I say, not as I do”

Sometimes people in power tell their staff to do/not to do something and then do it themselves. For example,  tell staff not to park in the disabled space in the front of the school, and then park in it themselves.  Staff like to see that if there are rules or protocols in place then it applies to all. If there are caveats only based on position of power, respect is lost and again, the sense of empathy and humanity are lost.

Protecting your staff

Someone said to me “You don’t ever want to see your Headteacher panicking/upset, in the same way you never want to see your parent/s panicking/upset” . Leaders in schools should in some sense be a ‘buffer’ for staff. There are many things that teachers do not need to concern themselves about. Not because they don’t deserve to know about them, but it is the job of leaders to manage situations, so you get the best out of them.

Do you strategically manage situations?

Do you strategically manage situations?

Apologies for those who you who don’t watch this but it reminds me of a situation from the current TV series of ‘The Call Centre’. In a misunderstanding,  a member of staff randomly announces to the call centre that she won’t be working with them anymore. It causes emotional scenes of ‘saying goodbye’ with some divisions as to what she’s been asked to do. Both the manager and the boss, Nev, can see that this kind of ‘announcement’ is not good for the morale of the team. Nev then takes action to speak to the team to set the record straight and to try to dispel any kind of division or change in motivation. He clearly knew that there are some things that should be dealt with in a particular way in order to protect his staff and their well-being. It isn’t about hiding realities but managing them.

The benefits of humane leadership

I think the key benefit from humane leaderships is the trust that it develops. If people can see that you care and will understand anything that may affect them whilst at work. The concept of ‘multipliers’ comes in to play. If you trust staff to do their jobs and give them opportunities you will get “40%” more from them.


Are you a multiplier?

People will also start to form a team a feel a sense of belonging in the team. If you know you’re going to be treated humanely, you will be able to share the ups and downs of teaching and in turn become stronger in the collaborative support it brings.


It’s not easy to always balance humanity with rigour and accountability but if you recall a leader from your past whom you respected and trusted, they were probably a humane leader.

Planning fragmented lessons to enhance memory


Two weeks ago I taught a lesson where students were finding out information about a particular topic and presented it in a poster format. Since then I had another lesson in which we didn’t discuss this at all, but worked on a connected topic.At the very end of the lesson they answered an exam question on the connected topic (based on the mark scheme requirements) and I hoped they would peer mark them but we ran out of time.

Today, at the beginning of the lesson I gave them the exam question back and they peer marked them using the mark scheme.  I then gave them back their poster and asked them questions which required them to show knowledge and understanding of the content. They had to evaluate in this case which they thought was the most effective point.

This wasn’t planned but I’ve been thinking

If we plan for fragmented lessons, will it help students remember more effectively?

I think that most people plan their lessons to be ‘complete’, where the ideal is to complete all work where possible within one lesson or maybe two consecutive lessons. My suggestion is that if we deliberately plan for the activities to be split and taught in consequent lessons (2 or 3 lessons from when the original topic was taught) will this mean that students are having to use their memory more to recall the content, to then apply/evaluate etc?

I see my classes once a week so it was two weeks since they’d done the poster. None of them said ‘I don’t remember doing this. I don’t remember what it is”

What might be the optimum time to leave between first looking at the topic/piece of work and then revisiting it?

At which point will they say “We did this ages ago, I can’t remember what it was”? ( if ever?)

In both my examples today, students had to use higher order thinking skills than in the original task relating to the knowledge. They had to apply the mark scheme in the peer marking and in the poster they had to evaluate by giving their opinion and justifying it.

Would this type of planning be more effective if in the revisit, higher level skills are used?

What if we planned to regularly (more than twice) use the same piece of work/topic? 

When would it become ‘boring’ or ‘overused’?

Does interweaving of topics help with memory?

Today was just chance, but I might trial this kind of planning to see if it has an impact. The only problem is, how to measure it’s impact?


Are you a Sat Nav leader?





I’ve been thinking about this all week in relation to the ‘bus’ analogy used by many leaders in education. Martin Robinson reminded me with a Sat Nav reference so here are my thoughts.


Sat Nav leaders…

  • Follow one route and don’t veer off for anything
  • Keep their eyes on the screen, ignoring the beauty of the journey 
  • Favour technology (Sat Nav) over the traditional (map) without realising there is use in both
  • Don’t sit before a long journey and work out the journey route, possible hold ups or alternatives. There is no long term strategy it’s just following the directions given as and when they’re given.
  • Regardless of what signs tell them they stick with the sat Nav even if they lead to ‘no through’ roads, deep weirs, or low bridges. They carry on regardless.
  • Favour the ‘voice’ of the Sat Nav over the reasoning of the others in the vehicle


Do leaders have the critical thinking skills needed to lead strategically yet humanely?








Please note this is in no way meant to be derogatory to those who have been injured or lost their lives to Sat Navs. No offence is intended.