CPD Week looks at ways to promote the generation of ideas for staff development

Generating ideas for development, growth and effectiveness is essential and yet how often do we devote time to it as individuals and as institutions? This week’s CPD Week looks at how we might blast ideas out for the benefit of the development of ourselves, each other and our schools, with more frequency and finesse! We also take a look at the changes to the rules concerning the employment of overseas trained teachers.

Quote of the week

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” Oscar Wilde

Practical Tips Generating ideas One of the most effective ways for a school to reinvigorate itself is not by buying in so-called expert help but by asking for ideas from the people that know it best − the staff. This relatively simple and effective method for giving people a say and encouraging development through creativity seems to be under-used in schools, so how can we make it work?

The Institute of Ideas recently ran a ‘two-day festival’ of debates on education. Billed as a ‘Battle of Ideas’ www.battleofideas.org.uk, the event discussed such issues as:

  • What is education for?
  • Academic freedom under threat
  • What’s the point of exams?
  • Teach the word to sing
  • Should evolution be taught as the only truth?
  • School sport: selling kids short?
  • Moralising the curriculum: the battle for children’s minds?

While it could be argued that debates of this kind don’t actually move things forward, the process of ideas generation and debate can be incredibly healthy and invariably change does emerge as a result of them. Taking the lead from the Institute of Ideas, the following thoughts may help the generation of ideas in your school:

  • First pick some issues that you want to focus on in your school. As CPD coordinator you are in a great position to be able to assess which areas could do with an injection of thoughts and ideas. For example, you may see a need to boost your school’s commitment to the Every Child Matters agenda or personalisation, or there may be features of your school’s development plan which would benefit from focus.
  • When you have a list of around 10 issues or topics, think about how you might generate ideas on them and what kind of ideas you are after. For example, does your school simply want food for thought or solutions to real problems? And will you devote time to it when staff members are all together (for example at the end or beginning of a staff meeting or on a training day), or is this to be done by teachers as and when they can fit it in? Will ideas be written or discussed, individual or generated in groups? An exercise like this can be as big and effective as you make it! You will know how best to design this to suit your colleagues.
  • Once ideas have been generated (and the way in which you gather and collate them will depend very much on the way in which you generate them) what happens next? Think about setting a time limit for action so that the energy that emerges from this burst of creativity can be harnessed for best use.

The new Core Professional Standards mention specifically the need for teachers to have a ‘creative and constructively critical approach towards innovation’ and mass exercises such as this can help to achieve such an approach as well as being great ways of shaking out ideas on what is and isn’t working in your school and also on what might work for the better in the future. While it may not flow as you’d like first time, or the results may not be immediately applicable, it’s well worth committing time to the generation of ideas as an investment in your school’s future and that of its staff.

Find out more

The Core Standards can be downloaded here

The ‘Battle of Ideas’ website can be found here www.battleofideas.org.uk

Information and issues

Overseas trained teachers and the ‘four-year rule’

Following consultation on some draft amendments to the arrangements for overseas trained teachers (OTTs), the DCSF has decided that the following changes should be made:   

  • From September 2008, overseas trained teachers who have not managed to get Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) within four years will not be permitted to continue teaching. This applies even if they are doing employment-based teacher training. If the four years they are permitted runs out while they are on a training programme, they will need to get all aspects of the training completed and be recommended for QTS by the end of August 2008.
  • OTTs who are instructors can go on the OTT programme as long as it can be completed by the end of August 2008. In the event of the four years having elapsed, the OTT can work in the independent sector or apply for a PGCE to gain QTS.

There will be extensions to the deadlines which are imposed on unqualified teachers including OTTs in the event of maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave.

Find out more

You can find out more about the updated regulations for OTTs on the Teachernet website www.teachernet.gov.uk

Let us know what you think about this CPD Week issue by leaving a comment below. 

This e-bulletin issue was first published in November 2007

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.