The recent education cuts by the UK Government are well documented with the cuts appearing to be getting deeper, particularly in relation to higher education. But what does this mean for schools? Organisations such as Becta and Creative Partnerships have already been axed, the Primary National Strategies have been disbanded, Local Authorities are being massacred  and school budgets have been tightened. This has significant implications for continuous professional development (CPD) of teachers and schools’ workforce. Local Authorities are going to find it difficult to maintain the same level of CPD opportunities for staff after the cuts and the fact that the Primary National Strategies are being phased out makes this even harder.

Time For Change

Furthermore, schools are going to find it difficult to pay large sums of money to send staff on training courses operated by ‘professional’ CPD organisations. It is a fundamental right of teachers to have access to high quality CPD – the hint is in the ‘continuous’ part of CPD. But what options do schools now have with limited funding?

One such option is for schools to run their own CPD events and invite other schools to attend. I found that this worked particularly well for the Growing Greener Futures Conference last October. If a school organises its own CPD then it allows them to tailor it to their own needs as well as significantly reducing venue costs (if the event is held in the school itself). Our ‘conference fees’ simply covered the cost of catering and administration but if we had charged more we could have made a significant revenue which could have paid for more speakers. Conferences such as this can be funded solely by conference fees if managed correctly. Another successful approach is the TeachMeet ‘unconference’ model which has been very successful in recent years. This involves teachers and people who work in education volunteering to share their experiences with teaching and learning.

It is clear that CPD is going to have to change. What do you think is the best way forward?

Additional Note:
The Growing Greener Futures Conference included keynotes and workshops operated by outside speakers/professionals. All of the staff of the host school were delegates (apart from myself). I think this is mainly why the event was such a success and so beneficial to staff.

15 thoughts on “Education cuts and the future of CPD

  • December 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm
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    I like your ideas. We've just been trying Lesson Study which has worked well and I've heard good reports of. Teachers work together in small groups to plan a lesson with a focus on a target group of children. One teaches the lesson and the others observe those children in particular then debrief and plan another lesson based on what they've learned which another teacher teaches.

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    • December 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm
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      Lesson studies sound an excellent idea for improving everyday classroom practice. I haven't experienced this sort of CPD before but think it would be really beneficial. I'd love to read of more examples about how this has worked in other settings.

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  • December 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm
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    I agree there are big changes ahead! I expect in our school action-research will play a bigger part in CPD as we are currently linked with the Teacher Learning Academy. But hey, who knows where that will go!____I really like the idea of schools, or groups of schools running their own conferences. This could be a really big way forward. As a matter of fact, I'm going to look deeper into it!

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    • December 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm
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      I think cluster groups would work well with a different school hosting different speakers etc. We got a lot out of the Growing Greener Futures conference but that was largely due to funding from Creative Partnerships. However, if we raised conference fees we could do it again. It may act as an additional revenue stream for schools too. I'll try and post a blog about how I managed to organise #ggfc over the next couple of weeks if it will help?

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  • December 22, 2010 at 7:09 pm
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    It will be interesting to see how schools will engage in CPD for staff, will it fall by the wayside or become much more in-house? In-house training works when we use the experiences and skills of those around us but these people have to be given the opportunity to be skilled up! So send one on a course for them to deliver training to all. I do hope professional development will not be lost! As Jan said lesson studies work well but only problem is time with a very stretched budget!

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    • December 22, 2010 at 11:52 pm
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      I never like the idea of having to deliver a full day's worth of training back to staff in a short staff meeting – I always feel like something is lost. I think one of the main benefits of all staff attending the training is that they get inspired to do it themselves in their own settings. This was something that was really evident at the Growing Greener Futures conference – everybody wanted to get back to their classrooms and try everything themselves!

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  • December 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm
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    You do not mention online or blended cpd, which I think provides an value-laden alternative to present cpd opportunities, and will become increasingly popular. It's all very well schools organising their own cpd, and inviting others along, but there is a real danger that it becomes insular. There are some interesting models out there paid for or free. For example, http://www.ictcpd4free.co.uk provided by Naace, the ICT Association, can be used in self-study mode by individual teachers, but also for whole school inset. Each course has a 'mentor/facilitator' feature, so that anyone can run it as a blended course. This has proved popular not only in schools, but also when integrated into PGCE courses by lecturers.

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    • December 22, 2010 at 11:44 pm
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      I only really touched on the idea of schools running their own CPD as it is a model that I recently experienced and feel it worked well. Incidentally many delegates wrote on their evaluation forms that it was the best conference/training event they had ever attended. I agree that there is the danger that it could become insular but this could be applied to other circles/organisations who run training also. In our case we advertised it nationally across different networks. Our speakers were also from varied backgrounds and different disciplines too.

      I also know the benefits of online and blended CPD as I'm in the process of studying an MA in New Literacies which is delivered completely online. The methods of delivery suits me down to the ground, but I know a large proportion of colleagues would dislike it and hence I think that 'traditional' CPD does still have a place, despite the cuts. I think the ictcpd4free.co.uk model is excellent as is the mentor/facilitator aspect but as I said, it won't suit everyone… sadly!

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  • December 22, 2010 at 11:21 pm
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    I think in-house CPD will become more popular. In a way, we do that already. For example, when someone goes on a course they feedback their experience/findings etc at staff meetings. This might now happen in a more formal, comprehensive way. I've really enjoyed the CPD my LA have offered so far and it'd be shame for it to be lost. I'm hoping to go on a 4-day residential course next year, which isn't cheap to say the least. I'm applying for an 'award' to cover the cost of the course, travel, accommodation, supply cover etc. Perhaps we'll all need to get better at seeking out such grants!

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    • December 22, 2010 at 11:53 pm
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      I think academic conferences or residential courses are always the hardest for teachers to attend. I'm really lucky that I can get to go to the UKLA Conference in July 2010 but I know it will cost my school a lot. However, there are other fantastic conferences such as the Northern Grid Conference which are free!

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  • December 23, 2010 at 11:07 am
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    Totally agree re schools being proactive in running 'in-house CPD' (within which I would include Teachmeet like events) – and also with the notion of practitioner research that @chrisbest1980 talked about ('action research' being a specific form of practitioner research). It is important that there is sharing of intereting practice across schools (on a national scale). Vital (see http://www.vital.ac.uk) aims to provide a national infrastructure to support practitioners in sharing their expertise – and like ICTCPD4Free provides course materials which you can use for free (on a creative commons licence).

    You might be interested seminar I am doing at BETT (in association with Naace) on ICT CPD in the Big Society – Weds 12th Jan at 10.45 in Gallery 1. Teachers have a real opportunity to re-take ownership of education and taking ownership of CPD is an important element of that …

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  • December 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm
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    Great post Sir
    In my experience as a teacher in-house CPD was good and bad. Teachers did not always want to listen to a teacher unless that professional commanded respect and was actually doing in class what he/ she preached from the front. In-house Cpd is good though for developing the staff that deliver the training. It is also the case that in every school there are levels of untapped expertise.

    The downside of in-house is that schools can get very introspective and stayed – a fresh face with new or tried and tested ideas can inject new vigour and enthusiasm into a school. A good example of this is how a school reacts and changes after a visit by someone like Tim Rylands.
    I agree that Teachmeets are another model, though by no means the total solution. Having run a number of these myself I feel they are still mostly for those into technology, though this is changing.Ther can also be a feeling of so?! after the 7 minutes. I find sometimes that i want to ask the speaker questions or ask him to keep talking for longer.
    What schools should do once a term is to turn their staff meetings into a Teachmeet arena in order to give all staff the chance to share what works. What a great leveller this would be.

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  • December 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    I think Teechmeet has made a really strong contribution to moving the model of CPD – they are going to be at BETT this year and it will be interesting to follow what is said . The majority of research (eg Joyce and Showers) does emphasise that traditional CPD has stribg limitations and that enactment and impact are low. To my knowledge, all recent research has found that the most effective approaches are around self reflection, peer mentoring, coaching and communities of practice – which can go over many schools and use those with specialist knowledge within the broader community. The trouble can be that such approaches are very 'labour intensive' and rely on high inputs on a one to one basis. I think that we need to use spcifically designed web based video conference technology to create a cost effective and efficient solution to this.

    One problem we may need to be aware of in this period of budget restraint, is the almost instinctive capping of existing budget headings e.g. CPD, ICT, departmental instead of thinking laterally about 'what actually works' and then seeing CPD as at the heart of school school improvement – and the number one priority.

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    • December 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm
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      I think 'in-house' CPD really needs to be thought about carefully. I think sometimes schools need an outside body to come into their school to inspire them and keep things up to date and as Anthony said 'fresh.' I think this is why I was pleased with Growing Greener Futures because it seemed to achieve just that because we brought in outside speakers from different walks of life.

      I do like the idea of in-school Teachmeets but agree that it should be once a term too. In fact I think it would indeed be an excellent exercise for all staff to share something that works with the rest of the staff – especially in larger schools.

      As Chris and Peter have mentioned action research is also an excellent method to use and from a personal point of view I have benefited a great deal from doing this as part of my MA. I'm not too sure how this would be greeted by the wider population of teachers however. I think there is a dissonance between the research community and the teaching community at times – maybe this would be a good way to address the issue?

      However, as Graham points out all of these ideas are labour intensive as opposed to traditional CPD. Maybe as a profession teachers have become stuck in a 'rut' with professional development (and I say that as a practising teacher myself) and it is now time to move out of pre-conceived comfort zones and think outside the box?

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  • December 24, 2010 at 7:52 pm
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    The MirandaNet Fellowship (www.mirandanet.ac.uk), a professional organisation which is free to join has developed a type of unconference that is different from the Teachmeet. A theme is chosen by the members that relates to digital technologies and education. Members meet face to face to debate this- teachers, teacher educators and researchers. In addition members join from all over the world using Flashmeeting and remote collaborative mapping to build knowledge and store it. You can see the resource on http://www.mirandanet.ac.uk/mirandamods. the next ones are at BETT11 http://www.mirandanet.ac.uk/bett. Hope some of you will join us….

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