This CPD Week looks at strategies for getting staff started on professional development portfolios, and explores the various formats they can take word-2512426

Formats for Professional Develoment Portfolios Info Sheet.doc

All progress occurs because people dare to be different.
Harry Millner

Getting staff enthusiastic about portfolios
It can be hugely beneficial for a school to get all staff on board when it comes to developing their portfolios. Prioritising this issue will not only help individuals focus on their own learning, but it will benefit the school in turn through their staff’s enhanced professionalism. Here are some strategies for achieving this which may work in your setting:

  • Put together a brief PowerPoint presentation on portfolios to use in staff meetings during the autumn term, and perhaps again in the summer term to re-emphasise the idea as a new school year approaches. This needn’t take up much time. Just a 10-15 minute presentation would suffice to plant the seeds of portfolios in the minds of colleagues and get them started.
  • Include a section on keeping professional development portfolios in your school’s staff handbook. You may also want to encourage individual subject leaders/coordinators to do the same in their departmental handbooks, looking at subject-specific aspects of a portfolio.
  • Make sure that the induction of new staff, and the induction programme for newly qualified staff, includes detailed reference to the need to maintain a professional development portfolio, right up to the most senior levels!
  • Find out if it is possible to make a budget available to staff to get them started with their portfolios. This doesn’t need to be a large sum of money, but a little can go a long way in establishing sound practices.
  • Consider making the maintenance of a professional development portfolio a whole-school initiative which includes and involves every member of staff. If you can encourage the head and other members of the senior leadership team to demonstrate their active commitment to keeping a professional development portfolio, even better!
  • Take opportunities to emphasise the kinds of activities and reflections which might form evidence for a portfolio.
  • Encourage staff to use their professional development portfolios in their performance reviews.
  • Consider devoting a little time on staff development days to the maintenance of portfolios.
  • Encourage staff to make contributions to each others’ portfolios, particularly in response to some training they have delivered (in the form of an evaluation) or collaborative work. Feedback on mentoring and coaching can be useful to include in a portfolio too. These comments from colleagues all help to paint a detailed picture of the development of an individual over time.
  • Create a culture of openness by asking staff to show you, as professional learning leader, their portfolios as they develop through each year.
  • Gather good examples of professional development portfolios to show colleagues, or ask enthusiasts on your staff to share theirs with others so that staff get a good idea of the range and variation there can be within the concept. You may also want to team up with your equivalent in a neighbouring school to share examples between schools as well as within.
  • Encourage the use of portfolios as a way of informing CPD priorities for the future.
  • With permission, consider showing governors a selection of portfolios to provide evidence of development being undertaken by staff. Governors may also wish to keep portfolios of their development too.

Maintaining a professional development portfolio needn’t be a drain on precious resources such as time and money. Once the idea is embedded and staff have started the process, regular top-ups (ideally done during time set-aside at school) are all it takes.

Find out more
There are two information sheets linked to the creation and maintenance of professional development portfolios; one on the structure of a portfolio and one on the formats that portfolios can take (covering storage issues too).

This e-bulletin issue was first published in October 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.