Why don’t we want to take staff out the classroom for CPD?

I know, since I recently left a senior leadership post, that schools are finding finances are tight at the moment. I know that schools are struggling to keep the staff they have. This means that funding costs for CPD are going to be tight – quality CPD costs money and then there are cover costs on top. I also know that individual teachers are under more pressure than ever to teach good lessons, deliver results and to help students achieve target GCSE grades.

That made me think of the parallels between investing in CPD and seeking advice about how to invest your money. Last year I saw a financial advisor and paid for his advice – I did this because I had two options. I could leave my money in a standard deposit account or take advice about how to invest my money to make it last me to 60! To get a better return on my money I had to pay for some advice from an expert. This is a similar decision to choosing to invest in CPD for staff, it should be a no-brainer but that isn’t the case in some settings.

The graph shows survey results from real middle leaders (I asked them myself!) It is interesting to note that the number one barrier to engaging in CPD is taking staff out of the classroom. I’d be willing to bet that good quality CPD for a teacher could outweigh the detrimental effect of missing a single lesson (or even a couple). Unfortunately not wanting to take staff out of lessons can be a rather short-sighted approach and one which could have wide-ranging and long-lasting repercussions.

Of course, another option which only the most forward-thinking schools have embraced is to timetable CPD time for all staff. School leaders in these schools already appreciate the value of quality CPD and this post isn’t directed at them.

As a member of a regional committee of the Association of Science Education, we run a number of CPD events for our members (and those that aren’t). We run our CPD on a Saturday morning to allow teachers who are willing to give up their personal time to attend. This isn’t an ideal situation but removes barriers to CPD for those who want to take part. You can find a full list of ASE regional conferences here.


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