TES Extra - CPD - Nurturing all the talents

17th October 2008 at 01:00
Schools are full of good examples of staff development

Pamela Hepworth has been involved in continuing professional development for 20 years at Ashfield School in Nottinghamshire, where she is assistant head. She is enthusiastic about in-house CPD, moving away from "sending six people on a course when there's five who could stay and teach".

Running CPD for a large school (120 teachers, 98 support staff, 2,000 pupils) means "being flexible, juggling, but above all being fair." Fairness is important: staff meetings have been merged and all staff share CPD.

"We are using CPD to help with workforce remodelling," Pamela says. "We've done a huge amount on support staff. They start off saying, 'I'm nobody, I shouldn't be teaching anything,' but we couldn't manage without their skills."

A computer programme such as Identifit offers a skills analysis that staff bring to performance management.

"We offer it to everyone and we've discovered so many talents that we're using in the classroom," says Pamela.

Ashfield is sending 20 people on MEds, has 16 now qualified at British Sign Language level 4 and two people who have moved on from being teaching assistants to teaching vocational subjects.

At King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, CPD for support staff has been organised by Liz Meadows since 2004.

"It's wonderful to see people develop," says Liz, who is personal assistant to the headteacher, Geoff Barton. "But it also means that we are developing skills that we need here."

Liz doesn't just help the 75 support staff to move up and achieve the TDA's higher level teaching assistant status (seven so far) or gain a certificate of school business management (four so far) or a diploma (two). She also audits "bespoke skills" such as data analysis, video-editing and first aid and arranges for staff to share them in CPD sessions. One teaching assistant is teaching motor mechanics; another is helping with Polish-speaking pupils.

This year, Liz has organised two half-day conferences for 34 local schools to discuss the impact of new government safeguarding (child protection) procedures and the local authority's school reorganisation.

She also runs a network of CPD leaders and a sailing club for pupils.

"Everyone wants to contribute," she says. "We share the ethos of the teachers and the school."

For James Randall, second-year RE teacher at Poole High School in Dorset, termly performance management reviews are his chance to contribute.

"The school sent me on a brilliant six-week course at Southampton University, tutoring graduate PGCE students. When I came back, I said I'd like to have a pastoral role, so they gave me the job of reserve tutor, like assistant head of house."

Poole High is a large school, with many challenging pupils, and about to grow even bigger with the addition of Year 7. It needs young, enthusiastic teachers.

"The school is excellent at listening to teachers and encouraging us to up our game. You can always get help and suggestions for development," says James.

"CPD is all about showing staff that you actually care," says Matthew Gunn, assistant head and CPD director of the Mandeville Upper School in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Matthew used his background in training to reorganise CPD at Mandeville Upper. "All staff are valued and need to be professionally developed," he says.

With 70 teachers, 20 teaching assistants and as many administration staff, that is a lot of performance management reviews in a year. But each gets a one-to-one three times a year to discuss accessing 35 annual twilight sessions and getting involved in coaching where "teachers teach teaching to teachers". It all raises the profile of CPD, Matthew explains.

Mandeville Upper also runs programmes of collaborative enquiry funded by the TDA effective practices programme, where teachers meet with a coach three times in six weeks to develop new teaching approaches (like assessment for learning) in their classes. Each Friday morning, staff share best practice.

"It's also useful to share what hasn't worked," says Matthew.

Perhaps the most successful CPD for the school has been a programme run with university initial teacher training. "We improve the quality of their student teaching and it helps us with recruitment," he says.

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