As a senior leader, you may have responsibility for the continuing professional development (CPD) of all staff at your school. Get it right and it could become the main driver for improving student outcomes as well as aiding recruitment and retention. Knowing where to start when designing and implementing whole-school CPD is often the biggest hurdle for those new to senior leadership, so here are some tried and tested tips.
Identify student outcomes
Start with your intended outcomes. What are the skills you want students to acquire according to school or national curriculum needs? For example, at my school we have identified improving students’ vocabulary as an area for support.
Pinpoint skills gaps
Once you know what you want to achieve, pinpoint any skills gaps that need to be filled in order for staff to deliver the outcomes. Identify the experts (internal and external) who can support CPD delivery.
Establish a baseline
To evaluate the success of your CPD, you’ll need a baseline. We undertake a questionnaire before beginning our annual CPD cycle. This year, one question was: “How confident are you in teaching vocabulary for communication?”
Effective CPD doesn’t happen overnight; you need to build it into your timetable. Our school closes an hour early every other Monday when we hold two hours of staff training in the form of a teaching and learning forum (TLF).
Six sessions are for the whole school, spaced across the year, so colleagues can reflect on and incorporate the training into their teaching. The rest are departmental TLFs, where teams work on the whole-school CPD objective but with a subject-specific focus.
Trust your teachers
We have given every colleague the same objective based around vocabulary for communication as part of the current performance management cycle (see feature on appraisals, page 49).
This is not just about making everyone accountable, though: every teacher must believe they can get better without feeling they will be penalised if they try new things that don’t work.
We all complete a disciplined inquiry question every year that scrutinises an aspect of our pedagogy to see if it makes a difference to teaching and student outcomes. If it doesn’t, we know what not to do, and that is just as useful.
Nigel Currie is an assistant headteacher at Huntington School in York