Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Leaders' surgery

Oranges being squeezed

Segmenting budgets

Q Our budget is going to be squeezed next year and I feel CPD is an area
where we may be able to achieve better value for money by developing
a strategy that makes more use of our in-house knowledge and expertise.
Would a skills audit be the best place to start? If so, what will it entail?

A Using in-house expertise is always a good place to start and peer mentoring and peer observation are two good ways to help improve the skills of all involved. A skills audit would be one way of assessing what sorts of experience and assets exist in the school or college. Assessing what external accreditation that staff may have would also be useful here.

If you are part of a chain, federation, partnership or consortium you might want to extend the audit across all the institutions. One excellent way of improving practice is to observe people from other schools or colleges working and then sharing that practice with others.

The easiest way of setting up such an audit is a basic pro-forma on which staff can list:

  • their formal qualifications

  • any current medium or long-term professional development they are currently involved in (such as National Professional Qualification for Headship, diplomas, National College programmes)

  • other relevant short courses or online programmes they have engaged with

  • internal learning groups, either departmental, whole-school or peer review

  • recent personal research (for example reading or Teacher TV programmes, which, incidentally, are an excellent free resource)

  • areas of responsibility and general areas of interest

This should not only give you a clear picture of people's skills and experience but also their interests and in which areas they might wish to develop.

Using school-based programmes, such as Leading from the Middle or the new professional partners established by the National College, is a cost-effective way of accessing an outside perspective or expertise not available in your school as part of a training programme. If you want your own internal professional development to be accredited - with points towards formal qualifications such as master's degrees - the Teacher Learning Academy will help you do that.

The TDA also has a network of facilitators that can help you audit your own practice and put you in touch with other schools looking at similar areas for development.

And remember, there are still some free or nearly free CPD opportunities out there - for example, taster sessions for in-depth courses - where you can get some excellent input.

Finally, you may feel that a day from a good consultant working in your school with a group of staff is worth the money, particularly if it builds upon the skills identified by the audit and the learning is therefore easily transferable to other members of staff, either in the school or across the partnership.

To find out more about ASCL's bespoke consultancy service, see www.ascl.org.uk/consultancy

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