CPD Week looks at opportunities to support school staff holistically, through effective structures for professional development

It seems that the nation is run down. Bugs are taking hold and many schools appear to be operating on a fraction of full power. There’s only one obvious solution: a fresh focus on well-being, this time blending it with our quest for professional development. This week we provide eight practical, easy tips for achieving that blended solution. We also explore what the GTCE Connect Network can do for CPD coordinators.

Quote of the week

“Balance. The ultimate goal.”
Ricky Lankford

Eight Top Tips: Work-life balance and the quest for development

We live in interesting times. Demands on our working lives appear to be increasing, the pressure has a knock-on impact on performance and all this is against a backdrop of rising living costs and a full-on housing crisis affecting new entrants (and others) to the profession. No, I’m not trying to drag you down further in the darkest months of the year, but there’s no doubt that if we don’t take a good, honest look at work-life balance and well-being in our schools, there’s little or no chance of achieving improvements and outcomes for anyone, least of all pupils.

  • The national priorities for CPD revolve around people, pedagogy and personalisation. For this reason among others, a focus on well-being could usefully be embedded in your school’s CPD and Performance Management policies.
  • Be open in your school about discussing the inherent tensions between your school’s development needs and the personal and professional development needs of individuals. The pace of development is important too. Realistic expectations which are personalised to the individual are most likely to have the best outcome.
  • Does performance management in your school encourage everyone to take well-being into consideration? Possibly not, or at least not overtly. How can this be addressed? Consider transforming the language of development used in your school, for example, some may not respond well to the use of ‘targets’ when ‘focus’ or ‘goal’ appears more positive.
  • You may also want to look at the number of ‘targets’ developed with staff members. Perhaps individuals might have a say in the number that they pursue, rather than adopting a uniform approach across the school.
  • Staff are more likely to be enthusiastic about their learning if their contribution to the development debate in your school is acknowledged and valued. Is this the case, or might staff in your school think ‘what’s the point?’ Well-being isn’t always about care over work-life balance; often it can be about effective motivation
  • Move right away from so-called ‘deficit models’ of performance management and transform what your school does into flexible, reflective and reflexive opportunity for ongoing development that is fully owned by the individuals involved.
  • Can you explore ways of disaggregating school closure days so that best use might be made of them? Full days, split days, a combination of the two − there are many possibilities.
  • The way in which success is celebrated in a school can have a strong bearing on an individual’s drive for further development. Schools that handle this important aspect of CPD well tend to make plenty of opportunity for staff members to talk to each other about development undertaken, the impact it has on practice and the personal development that has been derived from it. This also helps to disseminate learning effectively.

If we are to take personalisation seriously as it applies to professional learning and development, we have no option but to embrace fully the well-being of staff. We may have clearly defined goals for what we want to achieve as schools, but we cannot remove the individual from that process − especially when common sense and classroom evidence tell us that pupil outcomes are improved when those teaching and supporting them at school have a strong sense of well-being.

Issues and Information

Finding out what other CPD coordinators are up to is a great way to make sure that your work is as inspired as possible. For this reason, the General Teaching Council for England has established the Connect Network which offers access to research and resources which support teacher learning. In addition it carries the latest news in the field and information on events and activities led by key players in the education world. To create an account and find out more click here

This e-bulletin issue was first published in January 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.