CPD a term no longer fit for purpose?

3 September, 2019



The term CPD is no longer fit for purpose, there are too many dimensions.

It is not resulting in the productivity gains we require if we are to continue to reduce resources whilst expecting ever improving outcomes.

The complexity of needs facing teachers and leaders (SEND, mental health, social mobility, EBAC, inclusion) becomes ever greater.

Inherent tensions in the term CPD make it unworkable.

Here are just some of the tensions

Reactive v proactive

Are we implementing a central agenda, reacting to local needs or forging a more autonomous path?

Research based v evidence-based v instinct

Do we do what the research says and pursue high probability, or do we build our own internal evidence base and understand what is already working in our context or given the paucity of time do we trust our instinctual judgement and solve immediate problems?

Inputs v habits

Should we seek out the new and exciting and focus on motivation and good feedback or do we take the more difficult path and challenge engrained habits to reset the default position?

Professional v ideological

Is teaching a profession and if so, what are our codes and non-negotiable, or do we remain true to the ideological underpinnings that brought us into teaching in the first place?

Perception v reality

Do we trust our perception and views, or do we take on board objective feedback and face the reality of what evidence inform us about our teaching and the learning development at our school?

Pedagogical v programmes

Is pedagogy the bedrock of what we do, or should we be implementing others programmes that have ‘proven’ their effectiveness?

Individual v whole school

Should we make the individual teacher the focus of the change so development is a one size fits one or should we make the collective the priority in models of development?

Impact v performance

How important to us really is impact on learner outcomes? Is that just a mantra while what we observe, and judge remains performance of pupils and teachers?

Fast fix v sustainable improvement

Are we best bringing our attention to current deficits and ensuring they meet expected standards, or do we set a more strategic direction where gains can be sustained?

Expert practitioner v shared best practice

Do we engage with outside expertise that challenges against national and world perspectives or should we share amidst colleagues that which we have garnered?

Inquiry v blueprint

Are we best forging our own path with the ownership and depth of understanding that implies or following a path already forged?

Some of the above are both rather than either. Some have easy empirical answers (e.g. the evidence of sharing best practice as having positive impact on anyone but the sharer is not to be found) but is used despite the evidence. Whilst others have not even entered the agenda due to competing pressing priorities.

Isn’t it time to become more specific about the purpose of what we are trying to achieve and let the term CPD drift away?

In Scotland the term CLPL (Continuous Lifelong Professional Learning) is used to describe the individual pathways a teacher takes. This can include; reflection on practice, research, reading, joint planning process and professional inquiry.

Best teachers engage in these naturally (Kraft estimated this at 15% of the teaching force). For the others there is a need for more structured approach.

What we are suggesting here is an individual pathway and a collective pathway. The collective is an all onboard process that deliberately specifies and binds the collaborative efforts. We know from the research that Collective Efficacy has the largest effect size of anything we can do in schools. #visiblelearning #collectiveefficacy

The individual pathway allows the sense of autonomy that seems to provide the thrill that teachers crave if they are to stay invested in a career in education.

By labelling them both as CPD we do an injustice to the workforce.  Time to recognise and celebrate both.

Osiris Educational is the UK’s leading independent training provider for teachers.

We work at the forefront of innovation in education providing pioneering, challenging and effective training solutions in teaching. We use the best and most renowned trainers to help teachers improve their ways of thinking and approaches to teaching.

Contact us today for your CPD needs, email or call 01790 755 787

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