It’s tough being a member of SLT in times like these. With the ever increasing pressure of budgetary constraints it is, of course, essential that school leaders achieve value for money in all they do.
When the purse strings really tighten and something has to give, teacher’s professional development is often the first to go. This was a common theme amongst presenters at the 2018 Festival of Education last week; just because you don’t have the money, doesn’t mean CPD should (or needs to) be neglected.
If you can't spend money on teacher’s CPD, the key is to look inwards and allow your teachers time to participate in in-house activities instead.
"The aim is not aspiring to utopia but scaling up the success already about us. It is expertise, it is reliable judgement, it is passion for making the difference, and it is collaborative sharing of this knowledge and doing and caring. This requires the greatest investment, and the benefits for the students will be manifested, powerful and exciting." - Professor John Hattie
The benefits of in-house CPD
In-house CPD is beneficial because it allows you to cascade successful teaching and learning methods and strategies already working in your school. It can also help to build relationships through collaboration, and be enable you to better align your specific school development needs.
But, in-house CPD will only work if your school is in a place that allows teachers to fully benefit from it.
Here are 6 things that will help you make in-house CPD successful:
1. Less is more
CPD must be continuous but this means less is more. You can’t do everything so focus on fewer professional learning activities and make sure that over time you revisit areas of focus so you don’t forget what you have applied.
If finances are low, can you afford to give your teachers time? Giving teachers the time to develop their classroom practice through reflection or collaborative enquiry utilises in-house expertise and contributes towards a positive staff culture. Think about if CPD is always prioritised in your school and whether leaders spend enough time supporting staff? Do middle leaders feel confident enough in this capacity? Do department meetings always have a teaching and learning focus?
3. Join a network
Joining a teaching school alliance or collaborative network of schools will increase capacity for CPD and ensure staff with niche requirements can be catered for. Audit your network to identify pockets of expertise and create ways this can be shared throughout the group. If you’re running regular school workshops ensure each school takes turns to host events so everyone benefits (it costs the host school much less and allows more of their staff will turn up).
4. Look beyond
When developing in-house CPD it can be easy (and potentially dangerous) to forget to look outside of your school/network. There’s new research emerging all the time, make sure you stay informed about the latest findings that could have an impact on your school and your teachers.
5. Share the responsibility
For maximum growth the responsibility of developing in-house CPD is best shared, so try creating a CPD working group of colleagues who can help.
6. Turn to technology
Investing in the right technology can drive efficiencies and could save you a considerable amount of money in the long-run. Look for systems that ensure sustainability and support the in-house programmes you’re already running, rather than something that’s new and shiny. Look for solutions that will create time for your teachers and enhance opportunities for collaboration both within your own school and your wider network.
Many technology providers will offer free trials enabling you to try before you buy, which is a good idea too.