If you want to take an informal look at progress in CPD management in your school, here are some key questions to ask yourself

Informal reviews of progress, successes, frustrations, desires and goals at regular periods can be incredibly productive, but we tend to do them only once a year, if at all. You don’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time on reviews. If you see no professional or personal value to it, perhaps this isn’t the approach for you, but those who do undertake such reviews invariably find them useful in bringing about change without unnecessary formalities. It is with this in mind that we offer some key questions to ask at this stage of the academic year to enable you to launch into 2008 with as clear a direction as possible. We also take a brief look at the proposed curriculum review for primary schools. With warmest wishes for a very happy festive season.

Quote of the Week “Review our priorities, ask the question: What’s the best use of our time right now?.” Alan Lakein

Practical Tips

Strategic CPD planning for the school of the future

We may not be on the brink of a new academic year, but the turn of another calendar year is also a time of pause and reflection for anyone with strategic responsibilities. If you want to take an informal look at progress in CPD management in your school so far this year, here are some key questions to ask yourself over the coming weeks: Experiments – Have you experimented with any new approaches to CPD this term? How has that been going? Any great successes or disappointments?

Coaching and mentoring – These two concepts are receiving ever-increasing attention in schools. While some confusion remains over their use and the distinction between the two, the coaching and mentoring are being slowly embedded thanks to initiatives such as the National Framework for Mentoring and Coaching click here. What progress has your school made in this respect this term?

Student learning – Are you satisfied with the extent to which CPD in your school is linked to student learning? It is always worth revisiting this issue as frequently as possible to ensure that your school is maximising the potential of any professional learning that is undertaken. Subject expertise – A lack of subject emphasis can be a concern in some schools as CPD time can be devoted to generic issues such as assessment for learning, behaviour, the Every Child Matters Agenda and so on. Highly specific subject-centred learning can be argued to be equally important. Is that reflected in your school? Strategic provision – Take a moment to consider what you think a school with a fully strategic approach to professional learning might look like. Think about its policy, the way in which that develops over time, the resources devoted to it and overall attitude of staff. In what way does this ideal differ from the reality in your school? How much of a shift in thinking is required to move professional learning forward in your school? Goals for next term – Identify two features of your work regarding CPD in your school which might usefully be developed over the next term. How realistic is it to make steps towards achieving that? Are there any relatively small steps which could be taken which could lead to fruitful outcomes? Who can help in terms of time and resources? CPD resources – Many schools maintain a CPD library of resources. Does your school? Is this something which might enhance CPD provision and opportunities over the coming terms? Student voice – Just as pupil progress is inextricably linked to professional learning, so too is pupil voice. Does your school engage with pupil voice in a critical and meaningful way? (We will be covering this in more detail in the new year – watch this space!) New initiatives &ndash How are new initiatives in CPD in your school introduced? Do individuals or pairs trial them and report back? Are ideas brought back from professional learning undertaken outside the school? Is there an ongoing commitment to openness to ideas? It may be that all or none of these questions are relevant to your work in your school, but the key point to take from this is that regular informal reviews such as this can bring about excellent results in terms of your job satisfaction and the outcomes achieved for staff and pupils in your school.

Issues and Health Issues Curriculum review in the offing

In line with the government’s ten-year children’s plan, which has been designed to ‘make the school system world class’, Ed Balls has announced a ‘root and branch review’ of what is taught in English primary schools. It seems that clutter is to be cleared and teachers are to be given more flexibility in their work, although National Curriculum tests are to stay – albeit with greater flexibility in timing so that pupils may be able to take them when they are ready rather than at a fixed date. We can expect personalisation to feature in the review, particularly as ministers have been keen to stress that rigidity is now out, and the needs of the child are to come first. The review is to be carried out by Jim Rose.

The impact of changes to the primary curriculum will clearly be felt cross the whole of education and there are significant implications for professional learning. We will be bringing you further news and practical tips related to this curriculum review in future issues of CPD Week.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in December 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.