This week we explore four eminently achievable ways of boosting the ‘softer’ side of CPD in schools without necessarily having to devote vast sums to the causeQuote of the Week

“Strive for excellence, not perfection.”

− H. Jackson Browne

Pratical Tips

Habit-busting, habit-forming It can be easy to slip into the belief that development, whether personal or professional, is something that happens at a particular time and under specific circumstances. Yet it might help if we become more aware of the development potential of each and every day. I’d hate that to be interpreted as an excuse not to push for more good quality, specifically targeted professional development, but there is a need to identify and exploit the potential of the daily inspirations and developments which lead to greater expertise in the job. As a professional development leader it is useful to create a culture of maximising the potential for professional and personal development. In turn this invariably leads to providing the kind of support structure which can effectively raise the profile of CPD. This will help to encourage ongoing professional dialogues between staff and will enable a reciprocal ‘vulnerability’ and sense of equality in learning from each other to flourish. There’s no need to make grand gestures when promoting the accessibility of day to day CPD opportunities. Adopting these four key suggestions − or helping others to do so − for just a week at first can help to transform professional learning in your school inexpensively and subtly.

1. Change one thing: find one way of making a significant change to a single existing aspect of your work. For example, if you currently allow each task to take up as much time as it needs, be strict about allocating time slots for each task you undertake and monitor the impact this has on your productivity and effectiveness. If this doesn’t have a positive effect, try a different approach, and aim to understand what it was about working in that way that did and did not suit.

2. Introduce something new: create a new feature in your work routines. For example, start regular observations of peers to develop key features of classroom work, begin working collaboratively where possible or offer coaching on a specific area of your expertise.

3. Undertake purposeful reflection: keep a learning journal for a week. Make sure that this is both reflective and reflexive. Don’t forget to read back over it! It’s useful to do this at different intervals such as a week, a month or a term or longer. This can really help to show progress and development.

4. Work closely with a colleague: build a close working relationship with a professional buddy either within or outside your school. Be clear about the purpose of such a relationship and keep it focused.

This approach is a blend of expansion and introspection and just might offer the refreshment your school needs at this stage of the year, not to mention raising the profile of CPD in the minds of those you work with.

Issues and Information Spotlight on leadership

The leadership of schools is increasingly in the spotlight as more governing bodies struggle to fill headship vacancies. Developing leadership talent in-house is an important way of building up the country’s ‘stock’ of future leaders. The National College for School Leadership’s Annual Leadership Conference helps to achieve this. This year’s conference runs from 18-20 June in Birmingham and registration is now open. The conference is aimed at school leaders and people with an interest in future leadership (perhaps currently in a leadership team).

You can find out more about the conference, including key features of the programme from the NCSL website, by emailing or calling 0845 363 1478.

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.