As educators, we love learning. I would argue that we embody, more than any other profession in the world, the concept of being a life-long learner. Which is probably as it should be to be honest! We are learning every day; from our research, from our colleagues and even from our students (I now know that the singular of “species” is “species”, thank you Ava!). As educators, I would also argue that we are very aware that education and learning do not only happen in the classroom. We learn from our families, from the world around us, from our experiences. Finally, we are hugely aware that there is no ‘end goal’ when it comes to learning, there is no finite amount of knowledge that can be acquired and allow us to say “I’ve done it! I have completed learning!” and this is where CPD comes in.
CPD - Continuous Professional Development
– is present in most, if not all businesses. It encapsulates the idea that, in order to be the best at what they do, an organisation needs to ensure that they keep pace with an ever-changing world and therefore needs to continuously provide opportunities for their workforce to develop throughout their career. The benefits of CPD on employee performance have been seen across a huge variety of organisations around the world – from paramedics in the South African Healthcare system (Mnqayi and Harunavamwe) to English social workers (YouGov).
Teaching is no different.
In a profession where the aim is to support others to continue to improve, it should be no surprise that we want to ensure that we continue to improve ourselves and support our colleagues to do so too. This, coupled with the fact that we must continue to make certain that our students are ready to enter a world where 85% of the jobs that will be available to our current Year 6s haven’t even been invented yet (Institute for the Future), means that CPD is an integral part of any top-quality school.
There are three keyways in which a strong CPD programme supports schools. Firstly, providing teaching staff with CPD has a direct positive knock-on effect on student learning. A report by the Education Policy Institute found that there was clear evidence that CPD for teachers led to improved learning outcomes for students and, in fact, found that these positive effects “represent a greater improvement than… other school-based interventions” (p.8). Essentially, providing continuing opportunities for development and learning to staff will mean that students benefit – in terms of progress and achievement - from the new expertise of their teachers.
Secondly, the provision of regular and top-quality CPD supports the well-being and positive mentality of staff. “A resounding benefit of CPD is the opportunity that it provides to empower and stimulate individuals, it is a process whereby dreams and aspirations can be realised and people can move towards their future goals” (Bartleton, p.4). This empowerment not only means that staff are motivated and enthusiastic within their work as they feel more confident (EPI), but also hugely supports teacher retention as they not only enjoy the challenge, but also feel appreciated by their school (Ronfeldt and McQueen).
Thirdly, and most importantly, Sum et al. found that the provision of CPD to staff leads to greater involvement of students in their own learning and that students found greater enjoyment within their learning.
So, we’re all agreed. Continuous Professional Development is a good thing for our school as a whole, for our students and for our teachers. So, what do we do here at RBIS to ensure that our staff are provided with top-quality CPD?
The answer is – a huge amount of different things! Firstly, we have an internal CPD programme built into our working week. Every Wednesday, staff engage in CPD through a variety of different activities: collaborative meetings where we can learn from each other through collaborative planning and discussion; sessions run by specific sections of the school to support other staff members to grow in a particular area; opportunities for staff from across the school to share examples of best practice – to name a few. We also support staff to collaborate with colleagues in other schools in order to share professional development across schools – our recent meeting and sharing of best practice at Shrewsbury’s Teach Meet is an example. Thirdly, we support our staff to receive training from external providers. As a school, we ensure that staff are able to feel confident in their delivery of their subjects and syllabi by ensuring that they are able to attend training events provided by organisations such as exam boards.
So, there you go, I’ve done it! I have completed this blog post! However, my learning journey will never be completed, and I don’t think that I ever want it to be. I enjoy learning, I enjoy improving and I enjoy finding out different ways to engage my students in their learning. For those reasons (and for many others!) I enjoy being a teacher at RBIS. I enjoy that I am provided with the opportunities to continue learning and am supported to continue to improve and I hope that my students (and their families) enjoy the benefits of what I am lucky enough to be provided with.
RBIS English teacher/Y.10 form tutor
Bartleton, L (2018) ‘A Case study of teachers’ perceptions of the impact of continuing professional development on their professional practice in a further education college in the West Midlands’
Education Policy Institute (2020) ‘The effects of high-quality professional development on teachers and students’
Institute for the Future (2017) ‘Emerging technologies’ impact on society and work in 2030’
Mnqayi and Harunavamwe (2021) ‘Exploring the Effect of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Programs on Employee Performance at Company A in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal’
Ronfeldt and McQueen (2017) ‘Does new teacher induction really improve retention?’
Sum, Wallhead, Wang, Choi, Li and Liu (2022) ‘Effects of teachers’ participation in continuing professional development on students’ perceived physical literacy, motivation and enjoyment of physical activity’
YouGov (2021) ‘Social Work and Continuing Professional Development’