Next step - How do I become ... A CPD manager?

19th June 2009 at 01:00
Guiding the development of colleagues is not about flicking through course guides but building a whole-school vision

A hot conference room, a rambling speaker, awful coffee, poor biscuits and a take-home resource pack that ends up in the waste bin: it is an experience of continuing professional development that most teachers will have had at one time or another. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The role of a CPD programme manager is to ensure teachers get the training and development they need. It is not just about sending colleagues on away days, but also about creating a vision for whole-staff development.

"I've got the best job in the school," says Sue Kelly, CPD leader at Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, and author of The CPD Co- ordinator's Toolkit. "It's also an incredibly important job, because as teachers we owe it to our students to model good learning."

A CPD manager is responsible for identifying areas where staff development is needed. At Millais School, every teacher fills in a detailed survey, allowing Ms Kelly to distinguish between needs that are specific to individuals, departments, or the entire staff. Then she can set about finding solutions, and that doesn't just mean flicking through the latest catalogue of courses and bought-in training days.

"Professional development can take different forms," she says. "You have to be creative and make the most of in-house expertise. The answer might be team-teaching, a departmental workshop, or encouraging someone to film their own lessons and take a look at what's happening.

"You are trying to create a dynamic learning environment, and the tighter your budget, the more imaginative you have to be."

In most schools, the role is taken on by a member of the senior leadership team, such as a deputy or assistant head, but it can also work well if the CPD leader is a middle manager. The person certainly needs to be someone who staff feel comfortable talking to about any problems they might be having, and it is important that people see CPD as something they are involved in, not something that is handed down from above.

If it is a job that appeals, then you need to keep up to speed on educational theories and research, and try to take an interest in political initiatives.

You do not have to be the font of all wisdom, but you do need to know what training is available and what other schools are doing. You will have to prove you can handle a budget, and you will need to develop your own ideas of what CPD is and how best to deliver it.

Gill Yates has been CPD co-ordinator at Ormskirk School in Lancashire for eight years, and during that time she has moved the school towards a model of CPD that is centred on a partnership with Edge Hill University in Lancashire.

"Sending teachers on courses is expensive and potentially disruptive," she says. "The modules at Edge Hill encourage staff to reflect on what they do in the classroom, perhaps by developing a portfolio of work that can be accredited and that can count towards a masters-level qualification. It's an ongoing, long-term process."

Occasionally schools will advertise for CPD managers, or at least the role will form part of a wider job description, but more often it is a post that gets filled internally. Ms Yates, for example, grew into the job as a natural extension of other duties, she says.

"I'm delighted that I did, because it's so rewarding to see colleagues develop, and to see the impact in the classroom on children's learning. CPD is what drives a school forward."

Next week: Subject leader


- Salary: May be part of the job description for assistant or deputy heads. If not, expect an allowance of at least Pounds 5,000.

- Key qualities: Listening skills, tact and a passion for pedagogy.

- Qualifications: You need to be able to demonstrate your own enthusiasm for CPD, and that it's played an important role in your career. Useful to have a higher degree, such as an MEd - though not essential.

- Next steps: To find out more, read The CPD Co-ordinators' Toolkit: Training and Staff Development in Schools by Sue Kelly. Also, see the CPD Zone of the TDA website,

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