Early professional development is a crucial issue for CPD leaders to tackle. CPD Week offers tips for getting it right

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
Jim Rohn

Introduction If we are to retain great teachers in our schools it is essential to get early professional development right. The link is as simple as that! In this week’s issue we explore some of the crucial issues to tackle in this area, and we also take a look at the Teachers TV behaviour week, in light of recent teachingexpertise poll results which indicate that many of you think your pupils’ behaviour has deteriorated over the past school year.  

Practical tips: Early Professional Development

Recruitment is getting tough. There is a reported 23% rise in the number of unfilled teaching jobs, so making sure that your school is as attractive as possible is paramount in finding and keeping the best teachers. This isn’t about being at the top of the league tables, because that doesn’t necessarily mean that staff are happy and supported effectively in their working lives; it simply means that one particular measure of success places them above other schools (which in itself, isn’t to be knocked).

Exactly how we get early professional development right is unknown, but so much of it is to do with how we respond to the needs of each new teacher as they join and progress in our schools and a lot of this dynamic is about personality. Regardless of the route taken, the Training and Development Agency for Schools is keen to point out the immense benefits to schools of focusing on early professional development. In short, it can:

  • help with staff recruitment and retention
  • help to develop confidence in the workforce which in turn inspires confidence in the young learners they are working with
  • link closely with school development and improvement and help to link teachers with their future learning in the profession
  • boost the overall knowledge base within the school
  • help to engender a commitment to lifelong learning.

The Statutory Guidance on Induction, which was released last month, sets out clear responsibilities for key players to make sure that maximum benefit is gained from early professional development. Implemented correctly, this could really assist schools in nurturing the kind of ‘professional development mindset’ that is essential for all dynamic learning establishments, regardless of the overall outcome of pupils. If you want to polish up the early professional development offered in your school, take these ideas on board:

  • Induction tutors must be able to provide day-to-day monitoring and support for new teachers. It’s a good idea to ensure that NQTs who are moving from induction to their second year in the profession have access to a mentor or professional friend so that this kind of support might continue where necessary. It’s important for teachers to grow in confidence but to simply fall off a cliff when support suddenly dries up is unnecessary and potentially wasteful to the profession.
  • NQTs who have concerns about the level and quality of induction that they are receiving have a responsibility to speak up and should be encouraged to do so. Be open and freely discuss improvements to the development on offer within your school and there will be no need for complaints to be taken further.
  • There should never be any surprises in any form of professional development in schools at any level. Development needs should be identified through sound communication and be based on evidence where possible.
  • Effective early professional development should be coordinated and meaningful, delivered through a range of methods including coaching and mentoring. Explore how this can be achieved in your school if it isn’t already. Often in-house resources are an excellent place to start.
  • Make sure that governors are fully aware of their responsibilities when it comes to monitoring the effectiveness of early professional development and the impact this might be having on recruitment and retention in your school. 
  • Aim to make sure that the learning achieved during the induction period is built on in following years. Performance management is the key tool to use here, and again, use coaching and mentoring, peer collaboration and observation.
  • Look at ways of creating a framework for early professional development within your school. As long as it carefully balances your school’s needs with national priorities it will be a supportive structure for teachers to use. 

Find out more…
The TDA website has more information about early professional development and its place in the learning that teachers undertake      

Issues and information: Behaviour week on Teachers TV   

In a teachingexpertise poll last week, 36% of participants said that behaviour in their school had slightly deteriorated over the school year, and 31% said behaviour had ‘greatly deteriorated’.

If you want to finish your term with a close look at some top behaviour management tips, take a look at this week’s offerings from Teachers TV. The schedule repeats programmes from the channel’s previous behaviour week in May, offering a wide range of ideas, tips and strategies dedicated to helping teachers develop and improve their own approaches to the challenges that young people provide.     

Find out more…
The behaviour poll is still open. See all teachingexpertise poll results here
Teachers TV is available 24 hours a day on Sky Guide 880, Virgin TV 240 and Tiscali 845; and on Freeview 88, 4-5pm. Programmes are also available on the Teachers TV website

This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 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.