The ongoing professional development of teachers is the lifeblood of great teaching. Initial teacher training and education (ITTE) is an important stage in a teacher’s career, but we must not overestimate what it can realistically achieve. ITTE gets teachers to the point of being competent beginners. If we want teachers to thrive in the profession, and build on the great start they had during their training, we have to commit to their ongoing professional learning and development once in post.
Fortunately, there are changes ahead. The Early Career Framework, published in January 2019, will give early career teachers undergoing induction 2 years of professional development and support underpinned by the framework. This has been designed to support development in 5 core areas: behaviour management, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and professional behaviours, and should be based on expert guidance and the best available research and evidence. The Framework will be rolled out nationally from Autumn 2021 and the Department for Education has committed to funding and guaranteeing 5% off timetable for teachers in their second year of teaching (teachers undergoing induction in their first year of teaching will continue to have 10% off timetable).
Support, learning and development form a powerful triumvirate that just might improve retention and well-being. The Early Career Framework has great potential for those at that stage of their careers, especially if funding is forthcoming, but we must also enable all teachers to continue their development at every stage of their careers, not least because they are accountable at every stage of their careers.
However, CPD at a time when budgets are beyond stretched, can be incredibly difficult to achieve. Teachers have always taken it upon themselves to pursue their career interests despite lack of available funding, but it pays for whole school communities to pool ideas about CPD that can be achieved under less than optimum conditions. Taking an audit of the skills and areas of expertise of staff members is a useful place to start. CPD that is generated in house can be extremely well targeted and the benefits can be widely gained for relatively little cost. Using this information, plan a rolling programme of development so that in house expertise is widely and generously shared.
David Weston, CEO at the Teacher Development Trust, knows well the challenges facing schools in the current climate. But there is always some potential for development. Here he shares with us his “starter for five!” which just might make a positive difference in your school:
- To maximise value for money from any CPD, make sure that participants are clear on the impact before they begin, and carefully design multiple opportunities to apply knowledge, reflect, evaluate impact and get expert feedback. (Read more here)
- Use staff meeting times for collaboration and development; clear the agenda of briefing and admin tasks and schedule plenty of time for discussion about research, the best ways to teach and assess and share evidence about how pupils learn.
- Look for sources of external funding for CPD; a number of charities offer funds which you can apply for, plus, make sure to explore the Apprenticeship Levy which can be used for some leadership training. (Get a free guide to sources of funding here)
- Consider how to make the case for increasing (or at least protecting) your CPD budget by bench-marking it against local and similar schools (further information here)
- Maximise the impact of school policies and processes that improve teaching and learning: review your school against the DfE CPD Standards and consider an external review of your staff and school development to identify ways to optimise your improvement.
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About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.