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The right course

Done well, it is about valuing staff: helping them work better, advance in their careers and enjoy the job more. Done badly, it is a grim day at the mercy of a clipboard-wielding martinet.

The right sort of continuing professional development can transform careers and improve schools, as our supplement, On Course, shows today. It doesn't have to be a sunshine sabbatical - it can be as simple as watching a colleague teach. The vital ingredient is to meet the teacher's needs.

Good provision is cost-effective: a project for second and third-year teachers seems to be improving retention rates (page ??). Ironically, just as innovative CPD is flourishing and the General Teaching Council is campaigning for an entitlement for all teachers and the Government wants more structured approaches in schools, popular national schemes are disappearing... thanks to another Government initiative, to put more cash into schools. It may be RIP for good CPD without ringfencing or a re-think.

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