trange times in our school lately. Our last two whole-school in-service training days have been greeted by staff as positive, helpful and extremely useful. This is remarkable because, while in theory teachers are open to continuing professional development and welcome the chance to progress, in practice the reality of these opportunities has often been less than dynamic.
There are, of course, historical reasons for this. The authorities'
penchant for offering in-service at the dog end of a long school day in the twilight hours, competing against family, social life and hunger pangs, has always seemed slightly odd. But, even when the training set-up is more amenable, teachers seem to get it in the neck from the wider community.
The Friday afternoon arrangement to be found in some areas provides an improved chance of inter-school co-operation without diminishing the number of hours taught. Yet it attracts howls of disapproval from those who see it as weakening the school's childminding responsibilities. And there are those who, despite having the benefit of flexible working hours themselves, somehow feel this shouldn't apply to teachers.
After three decades of almost continuous change in education, you would not think it too much that the public might be able to recognise the need for well-organised and resourced training to support teaching and other staff in driving forward these initiatives, rather than expecting them to adapt on the run, as it were.
So, how did we manage to enthuse our overstretched and overworked teachers? Well, as usual, it wasn't rocket science; rather, it was the Race approach.
We approached the in-service planning seeking to make it Relevant, Accessible, with high quality Content that was Easy to apply to the classroom.
We have a CPD committee which looked at the major strands of the school improvement plan, asked staff what would be helpful and then researched the best way to provide it. On the first day, development of ICT in the school was targeted and staff elected into different workshops on the use of Powerpoint, smart boards and the like. They were then given the chance to practise, with support, its practical application. Huge progress was made.
The second in-service focused on promoting positive behaviour, and research told the committee that a visit from Geoff Moss would prove effective.
Staff responded to his lively presentation (think Max Bygraves meets Denis Norden), his obvious grasp of classroom reality and the multiplicity of techniques highlighted for teachers to employ.
You could call it CPD by the people for the people. Then again, the bacon rolls may have helped.