Welcome to a new column: the diary of a training manager. In the coming months I will be looking at current CPD practice, exploring what makes it sparkling, ordinary or downright depressing. I’ll also consider how some of the changes of dynamics in the system are affecting ordinary schools.

My school is a training school, a status which remains current for a further year, but the landscape is changing with the creation of teaching schools, and I also plan to share with you our journey through this changing scenery.  

I have the pleasure to be the new school training manager for Windsor High School and Sixth Form, not actually in Windsor but close to the heart of the Black Country in Halesowen. For me this place is like coming home – I am from nearby Dudley and, after years of working across the country, including a spell at the DfE and others with CPD providers, I am back to where I was educated.

More importantly, I feel I’m at the heart of the sort of dynamic and inspiring CPD that well over a decade ago fanned the flames of my passion for teachers’ professional development. It really is possible to be passionate about this. You all know how passionate you can be about the teaching of a student, and for me the development of a teacher enhances the teaching of not just one student but many, over their lifetime of lessons.

As I draw towards the end of my first month, I find there is so much more CPD taking place than I would have realised. From the Teaching and Learning Café to the structured NQT programme, from the triad coaching to the SEN working group, from the support staff sessions to the use of action research. I have been attending as much of this as I can, and the diversity and range of twilight activities are astonishing, with more than 100 events scheduled over the course of a year.

Twilight CPD is clearly what works here – and I’m intrigued to explore how widespread an approach this is. Maybe you can tell me, because in my years of creating development programmes for schools I never felt I cracked the nut of the right timing for CPD. School culture probably plays a big part; home commitments may be a blocker but, as resourceful creatures, we can handle the complexities of organising life if we know what is expected of us. And we don’t go that extra mile, attending twilights just because we have to – we need to want to as well, needing to know our time will be used wisely and CPD will make a difference.

The magic ingredient for me also seems to be collegiality – a commitment to peers and colleagues, progressing in your learning together (particularly as these twilights are also sustained over time) such that you come to trust others and enjoy their company. Where I have seen this, people are happy to give up this time for the benefit of their professional growth, that of their colleagues and, of course, for the benefit of pupils. 

Alison Halford is training manager at Windsor High School

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