Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a topic that is frequently bandied around education as a magic potion to resolve all troubles. How often do you hear the words “we need CPD on something like this”,
“I saw this flyer and thought of what you said last week, you should go, it may help”? All of which are fine and the sessions are probably delivered by an engaging professional, however, does the CPD directly impact the classroom? If it does then great. If it doesn’t, and you remember the lunch more than the content, it was probably a waste of precious time and money.
I recently completed a piece of work with a West Yorkshire independent school. I was called in to support one pupil experiencing some issues, after realisation from the parent and headteacher that support was needed. After a few meetings and great openness from the school, it was clear they had a fantastic resource and ability to provide high-quality education and an environment in which to thrive. However, they also had a lack of specialism to support social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
The ability to identify gaps in school and how to address them is what makes a great headteacher.
In this case, the CPD was not about sending one or two staff to external courses, it was about developing the capacity and skills in school for all staff and more importantly all pupils. This was delivered in the following format:
- Open discussion and identification of need
- 1:1 contact with the staff mainly affected by challenging behaviour
- Informal discussions, questions and answers sessions with the staff team to ensure that all areas were covered
- Planning and delivery of targeted whole school CPD and across the differing key stages to ensure it was bespoke to the developmental stage of the children and aided transition
- Review and feedback to staff and observations re: implementation of strategies
- Total time: 7.5 hours of CPD
The above highlights the strategic element of support through a time, implementation and cost-efficient model, but what was the actual impact?
Staff fed back that they are now more equipped to support pupils, and pupils are engaged more with learning. The pupil that we were asked to support is now receiving an education programme that caters for their needs with a solid understanding from staff of the ‘why’ behind their behaviours. The staff are now in a position where they are more confident to address behaviour and social needs, and are aware that children need to learn how to behave just as they need to learn how to read, write and interact.
The element that seemed to have most impact was having somebody to talk to who was deemed an expert in their chosen field
Throughout the process, staff received direct advice, resources, evidence tools and scripts. The element that seemed to have most impact was having somebody to talk to who was deemed an expert in their chosen field. This support alone can give staff and leaders a confidence in an arena that is littered with potential challenge and criticism. To cascade the CPD from the top down as well as the bottom up ensured that all involved met in the middle with the children at the centre.
Next steps for the school’s CPD have highlighted differing needs. These include:
- Parent support using Pivot’s in-house social worker
- Support with Education Health and Care Plans preparation.
CPD delivered in the above format allows needs to be identified in a whole school manner rather than the traditional external CPD route for individual staff, which often doesn’t allow for learnings to be disseminated across all staff due to time restrictions and lack of expert knowledge.