Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

A whole new level

Brian Lightman looks at the new challenges for CPD delivery and the proposal in the Children's Plan to make teaching a masters level profession.

Do you remember when inset days were first introduced? At the beginning of one 'Baker Day', I recall sitting in a draughty school hall waiting to find out what the day would be about. We felt no ownership - and message about the danger of compulsion has remained with me since.

The world of CPD has changed beyond recognition now and goes way beyond any shadow of a one-size-fits-all approach. Programmes which were once based on that vast file of inset courses provided by the LEA around April time (if you were lucky) have been replaced by a planned and evaluated approach which views CPD as an integral part of working life.

Present day programmes are based on a far wider menu of opportunities ranging from working groups and networks to peer observation, job shadowing, action research and more formal study.

In the context of a more diverse workforce, performance management and the vast agenda of change, all staff need to develop new skills and knowledge. The challenges CPD leaders face now are very different. They relate to using scarce resources to meet the needs of all staff, assuring quality and balancing the needs of the individual with those of the institution.

Effective succession planning in the light of demographic trends cannot be left to chance, nor can effective induction. There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that turnover amongst support staff in the new kinds of roles we have created is too high, especially where their training and induction needs are not being met.

A topic which is causing considerable debate has been the proposal in the Children's Plan to make teaching a masters level profession. This is a laudable attempt to raise the status of teaching. However the current debate centres around the following pitfalls which need to be avoided:

Masters level accreditation is different than a masters degree. Making new teachers follow demanding courses at the very time of their career where their workload is immense could put some under unacceptable pressure. On the other hand providing opportunities to recognise classroom-based development work and small scale research which help them to develop their classroom skills would be highly worthwhile. The TLA could be the key to this.

Compulsion could destroy a highly worthwhile idea.

Some of the most effective CPD is based around visits to other institutions and sharing ideas with colleagues. We must not allow an overemphasis on accreditation to lead to an unhealthy focus on outcomes rather than process.

Accreditation costs must not divert scarce resources away from delivery of training opportunities and hopes must not be raised unless new funding is made available.

A focus on teachers must not be to the detriment of all of the other staff who work in our schools and colleges. CPD has to be planned coherently in order to achieve the fine balance between individual, institutional and system wide development needs.

There was never a greater need for a coherent, institution wide approach to CPD planned across the piece and led by a member of the leadership team. This needs to be reflected in national initiatives and structures as well.

ASCL is planning a pair of major national conferences on the CPD in June and July, followed by a publication sharing good practice on the subject in the autumn.

ASCL's Professional Committee is planning to complete the review of our CPD policy at June Council. We would welcome your comments and ideas about CPD in the meantime.

Brian Lightman

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