1st February 2008 at 00:00
Sara Bubb on the mutual support and comfort of a training session.

Going on a well chosen course is one of the best ways to gain a good level of professional development very quickly.

Some schools, such as Sneyd Community School in Walsall, have a programme of training sessions for new teachers about common concerns that can be addressed en masse, but even more importantly, they benefit from the opportunity to share experiences.

Many local authorities run courses for new teachers. They offer practical ideas and an essential support network: it's good to realise you're not the only one who isn't enjoying the job or liking their pupils.

A London primary teacher enjoys going along to the Wandsworth new teacher sessions: "Sharing horror stories is great because you know that you're not alone."

Sometimes schools get together to run sessions on local issues, such as working with different groups of new arrivals.

The opportunity to network with other new teachers and broaden horizons is an important factor in deciding whether to go on a course. Those organised by the local authority enable you to meet people from nearby schools and get to know the advisers and inspectors. Sometimes the local scene is too insular, so going to a venue that attracts a wider range of people can give a broader perspective. It's also a good way to find out about jobs.

Being out of the school building and atmosphere gives you time and space to think. However, there's a danger that, although the day is inspiring, you go back into school and by 9.05am you are too overwhelmed to put things into practice. You need to be an active learner, always thinking about what you can implement.

But new teachers agree - the best kind of professional development is learning from each other.

Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. Her Successful Induction for New Teachers is published by Sage.

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