Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Targeting Teacher Training - The Importance of Good CPD

Someone said to me recently, "the best training you can have is experience on the job." While I don't deny the essential and huge benefits of experience on the job, I feel that great quality training gives you the time and space to reflect on what you are doing currently, hone the skills you are using at present and develop new skills. The right training given to the right teacher can ignite a level of passion they did not know was there - it did with me.  The benefits of good quality CPD far outweighs the monetary cost.  That training will look very different for each individual mind you - different strokes for different folks.  It is the job of senior leadership teams to seek out what might fit.  It is our duty to develop the aspirations of great teaching or great leading in our schools

I have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to have some great training in my time as a teacher and leader so far. I have had bosses that have looked at me, seen potential and allowed me to develop. it is the best gift you can give a professional. I know how powerful a good course can be. I have been on many great courses, a few of which changed me forever. Every line manager I have ever had has been great at encouraging me to go on great CPD courses.  I have been lucky in this aspect of my job and for that I will be forever grateful.

Being new to my school and role this year, my current line manager was more than happy to sign me up for some CPD. He actually found the course I'm about to go on and thought I would love it - shows how well he knows me already - I do! This course runs on a flipped model where the participants read up and watch videos in preparation for each session to discuss them when we meet. Our meetings are held at four outstanding schools across the country where we get to see each topic in practise. Plus we get to work with teachers from all over the UK. This course looks to be something very different for a lover of CPD and a self-confessed nerd.  They asked me to blog about my thoughts before starting - happily I did.

As an NQT, many moons ago, I was given freedom to choose a course I liked.  I chose one called 'Excellent English Teaching'. I remember sitting round the table, looking at all the others on the course and feeling very inexperienced indeed. There was a neat, serious looking lady with a laptop and then there was me with my tatty note pad and messy hair. Despite my initial fears, the day was brilliant.  Everyone was friendly, the trainer was fun and made every thing really interactive and we came away from the day with a book full of activities we could use the very next day. I was hooked. The training was inspiring and invigorated the frazzled NQT that was me. It opened my eyes to active learning and making lessons fun and away I went.

Another significant training session I was asked to go on was a day course called 'Creating a Literacy Community' hosted by a wonderful Head Teacher, Graham Tyrer. He had started the Literacy Leaders scheme in his school, allowing students to take charge of their learning by becoming experts and teaching one element of literacy to whole classes across the school. He was a great speaker - passionate, knowledgeable and inspiring. There were so many things I took away from that day and developed upon in every role I have taken since. I was so excited by the idea of independent, student lead learning that I had a been shown that I never looked back.

A year into my time as a middle leader, I was sent on a course called 'New to Middle Leadership' that was invaluable to me. The course was run by two effervescent women from the Institute of Education who really knew their stuff. There were six sessions over the year, covering everything from coaching to data analysis, creating a vision to having difficult conversations. The actual sessions were run by very experienced and passionate practitioners, which is always a winner. Over the course I really started to appreciate something I had always known but never really put my finger on properly. I learnt a huge amount from working with people in different roles, above and below me in the school structure. On the course I worked with aspirant middle leaders as well as very experienced ones and we all learnt so much from one another. That is something I am always mindful of now in my job. An NQT to a Head Teacher, we all have things we can learn from one another.

My most recent training was my most intensive course yet. I was chosen by my previous school to apply for the Teaching Leaders course. This is a two year, full-on, brilliant course. The interview process was similar to a job interview and only the most committed, some may say obsessive, middle leaders get through.  This means that everyone on the course loves their job, is enthusiastic and will do whatever they can to make a difference - recipe for success.  The course stared with a week residential with the full cohort of teachers on a university campus in our summer holiday. Horrific idea to some - I loved it.  The best training, experiential learning events and lectures I could possibly have imagined ensued. Exhausting, enthralling and great fun. The teachers were all completely committed, enthusiastic and went the extra mile in their job. A great bunch to meet. The course guided you to oversee an improvement initiative in your school and attend evening and weekend sessions regularly. Not for the feint hearted that's for sure. You were given a mentor / coach - mine was the wonderful Peg Hulse and I miss her terribly. I saw just what a powerful force a group of teacher who are all enthused about their job can be. Life long friends were made and real development in myself as a teacher and leader were evident.

The strange thing was, once I was no longer on the Teaching Leaders course I missed the focus and extra curricular sessions they provided. So I looked for my own CPD to fill the Teaching Leaders shaped hole in my life.  I found Twitter and Teachmeets - but that's a story for another time. I love furthering myself as a leader and teacher and don't think that is going away any time soon.

So here I am. The next exciting course has begun, SSATs School Leaders for the Future.  I can't wait.


  1. Excellent blog MsFindlater, I too believe in continuing CPD. My blog (http://truthofteaching.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/pgce-gtp-dtlls-are-they-really-useful/) looks at the importance of initial teacher training, another thing that teachers take for granted

  2. I enjoyed reading this and found your energy, passion and enthusiasm refreshing!

    When you're a head, you will enjoy encouraging, inspiring, supporting and challenging others, as others have done for you. One sign of a great head is someone who has 'grown' other leaders.

    Peg Hulse is a friend - we were deputies and then heads together, so I've made sure she's seen this!

    Good luck in the future.

  3. Teachers,School Leaders and Teacher Educators are key actors in maintaining and improving the quality of education and and it is very necessary for teachers.IGCSE Schools in India