What does effective CPD look like during lockdown?

Laura Tsabet's school has committed to providing meaningful CPD while staff are at home - and the results have been far reaching, she explains

Laura Tsabet

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There have been concerns shared about the detrimental effect that being away from the classroom will have on pupil attainment once the pandemic subsides. 

Will it be more damaging than the infamous summer learning dip? We don’t know.

We are swimming in uncharted waters and cannot possibly predict with any accuracy what the bearing will be upon student attainment upon our return.

Using time away wisely

However, while the Covid-19 pandemic is a tragedy, lockdown does, at least, afford us the time to do the things we simply don’t have the time to do during term time.

So how can this time be best used?

The What Makes Great Teaching? report by Coe et al finds strong evidence that pedagogical knowledge and quality of instruction both directly lead to improved student outcomes. 

Moreover, a key finding of the Teacher Development Trust in 2015 was that carefully designed CPD with a strong focus on pupil outcomes has a “significant impact on student achievement”.

It makes sense, therefore, to allocate some of this time to professional development. At my school, Avonbourne Academies in Bournemouth, we put this in place almost immediately and staff have been eager to capitalise on CPD opportunities as they work from home.

I was already acutely aware of staff desires to engage in CPD opportunities, after a tidal wave of applications for an online CPD course that we were lucky to secure funding for. 

With this in mind, I generated a document containing links to free, high-quality CPD opportunities (both pedagogical and subject-specific) online. Staff could select courses or webinars that they felt met a self-identified area of need and sit these at their leisure.

A remarkable reaction

The reaction to this was remarkable; I had not expected such an overwhelmingly positive response from so many staff. In fact, after sharing the list on Twitter with a similar result, it appears that there is a thirst for these opportunities that should not go ignored. 

The recent popularity of free CPD provided by the likes of ResearchEd, Tom Sherrington and Litdrive also heavily suggest that research-driven or subject-specific CPD is something that many teachers crave.

Following the publication of the list, we implemented the same structure for CPD that we use when in school.

Our CPD provision is firmly embedded in Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction and links Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion classroom strategies to these.

This is to ensure continuity; staff are already familiar with the style and we are able to ensure that our teaching and learning priorities will be consistently covered for the remainder of the school closures – plus the initial work our fabulous vice-principal did in creating it isn’t going to waste.

CPD central

We adapted this to remote learning by creating a staff Google Classroom specifically for CPD; this is a central hub where we can share our training, bulletins and links to relevant reading, as well as hosting staff discussions and obtaining feedback.

Every Monday, we share the weekly Rise and Shine with Rosenshine training – a set of slides outlining our weekly focus, sharing videos of good practice and opportunities for reflection on own teaching. 

Staff are then directed to complete this over the course of the week. They were provided with notebooks and folders prior to school closures so that they have somewhere to record their comments and observations.

A weekly bulletin is also sent out communicating messages from myself and the vice-principal. This includes reminders about upcoming webinars or course deadlines; reading opportunities (such as popular blogs or Tes articles); and staff reviews for some of the optional courses.

We encourage staff to engage with the bulletin at their leisure and discuss their thoughts on the Google Classroom.

Next steps

Naturally, we recognise that there are still improvements to be made in the way of delivering remote CPD to staff. We are still figuring things out.

This is an unparalleled situation that nobody could have predicted nor prepared for, and we are all still finding our way. 

Nevertheless, our next step is to work on voiceovers and video recordings for the weekly training so that there is the same personal touch that we pride ourselves on in school.

We hope that the foundations that we lay now, and the enhancements that will undoubtedly follow as we gain more and more feedback, will have some impact on the quality of provision for students – and, of course, their progress – when we return to school, whenever that may be.

Laura Tsabet is Director of CPD and ITT at a school in Bournemouth. She tweets @lauratsabet

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