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.
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?
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.