This CPD Week we consider how to share staff learning and promote a culture of celebrating achievement. We also take a look at teachers’ main areas of concern as identified by the annual survey of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’
Brian Tracy

Practical Tips

Celebrating staff learning
We are all supposed to be committed to lifelong learning and should be engaging in it as an integral part of any working (and non-working) day. The question is, do we celebrate achievements sufficiently to encourage the sharing of best practice that can and should happen as a result? The danger is that we become so busy acquiring new knowledge that we never bother to apply it to our own work and the work of the school.

In order to make the most of the learning undertaken by you and your colleagues, follow these tips for celebrating professional and personal development:

  • View the celebration of new learning as a way of encouraging collective responsibility for professional development at your school, as well as enhancing teaching and learning.
  • Celebrating learning generally leads to collaboration and the development of best practice among a wider group of colleagues. Better to spread the word than to keep it under wraps.
  • Simply acknowledging staff learning during meetings helps to inform staff of what their colleagues have been doing and what impact they might expect. Some schools give teachers the chance to ‘say two things’ about any learning or training they have done, so that core meaning is passed on to others − however briefly. Focus on things that could easily be put into practice and provide the facility for further discussion (perhaps in a ‘buddying’ or mentoring programme).
  • Keep in mind that creating the space to celebrate learning will give teachers a voice in your school and will help to build trust and respect between colleagues.
  • Be aware of the time it takes new learning to embed. If you want it to be sustainable, you are looking realistically at three to five years. Taking a longer-term approach to the sharing of new learning, perhaps revisiting it over time, can help to ensure that opportunities aren’t lost during these time periods.
  • Celebration and acknowledgement help to improve the quality of the kinds of professional learning conversations that lead to positive and sustainable change.
  • Allow this celebration and sharing of success to trigger debate and discussion. This is vital for lasting change in your school.

If the aim is to gain maximum benefit out of all professional learning undertaken by staff members we have to give time to its celebration and consolidation before marching on towards the next phase. Make sure that this vital stage isn’t rushed in your school.

Issues and Information

The latest Annual Survey of Trends from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) made some interesting findings about teachers’ concerns. In primary schools, staffing concerns remain relatively high with recruitment and retention difficulties often cited. Buildings urgently in need of replacement or refurbishment are also cause for concern in the primary sector. The secondary sector shares the concern over staffing, this time in relation to the quality, quantity and experience of applicants, as well as budgets and buildings. Interestingly, concerns about inspections showed a decrease in both primary and secondary schools compared with previous years.

While a larger proportion of secondary heads than primary heads rated pupil behaviour as a concern, inspection is a comparatively larger concern for the primary sector. Significantly, classroom/welfare assistants are the top priority for additional funding for both primary and secondary heads, with learning mentors, teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants being most frequently mentioned.

It can be useful to compare these national findings with any such trends you may have noticed in your own school and map out how they are reflected in your plans for CPD. It may require creative problem-solving, but one key question to ask is: In what way can this school’s long term plans for CPD help to alleviate identified concerns?

Find out more

You can download the latest Annual Survey of Trends (changes in schools’ concerns) free of charge.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in February 2008

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.