CPD – “all types of professional learning undertaken by teachers beyond the initial point of training.”

The PE and Sports Premium has provided schools with a treasure trove financially and with it has come lots of CPD. Has it made any difference to the quality of teaching and learning? Well, it certainly should have but how many schools could articulate the benefits and actually evidence the impact?

Craft (1996) describes continuing professional development as “all types of professional learning undertaken by teachers beyond the initial point of training.”  

So, what does good quality CPD look like and how do we know that what we are providing is what the staff want|?  Firstly, a rigorous system of review and self -evaluation needs to be embedded into school culture aligned with an openness and a willingness to improve.  A simple yet informative self-audit carried out by each member of staff would provide the necessary information for the PE lead to plan strategically what support the staff need. Having appraised the results of the audit the PE lead should look at who needs what in terms of specific training and devise a model which meets the individual and school’s needs. The plan should seek to address where there is a lack of confidence and a lack of subject knowledge.

In booking professional development ensure that some takes place on site and some off site. Getting the chance to visit other schools and to network is an important part of any teacher’s learning just as is support in- house using your own facilities.  In planning both, get recommendations from outstanding supportive providers. Ask other schools, your SSP coordinator and cast the net on social media.

Careful consideration should be given to the  model of CPD that you want to operate. It has to work for the person doing the supporting; the member of staff and the children if it is going to leave any kind of legacy. It would be entirely appropriate for the member of staff and  the person they are working alongside to identify 3 key targets that they can work on together over the period assigned. This would ensure a focus and provide a means of measuring improvement from a baseline score in the 3 individual target areas to begin with and a summative score post-support.  A plan which involves a couple of demonstration lessons by the ‘specialist’ with the member of staff observing,  followed by some discussion is a good starting point. This should then lead onto some shared planning and shared delivery with the member of staff taking charge of some elements of the lesson and the ‘specialist’ the other parts. Again, it is imperative that this is followed by some discussion about what went well with particular emphasis on the agreed target areas. Finally, the member of staff would lead a session they have planned and  may have had some input from the specialist. The specialist will act in the role of observer and provide feedback specifically around the 3 target areas that have been the focus for development. Keeping a record of the targets agreed, the pre- and post-audit confidence levels of the member of staff and any lesson observation record provides all parties with the necessary information they require 

In terms of whether whole school or individual support is better there are pros and cons of both and the ideal would be that both are offered but finding precious slots on training days and staff meetings may scupper those plans. Someone delivering whole staff support may be delivering after  school with staff who have been run off their feet all day. Delivering a consistent message to all staff across the school however can be very powerful and great value for money compared to providing 1-1 support for individuals. One to one support can be very personal and can allow for more persona development with staff able to involve themselves in the planning and evaluation process. Whatever you do ensure the training is active. There has been a wealth of research into effective CPD and many of the findings point to the benefits of teacher learning that is active (Day, 1999), collaborative (Smyth,1999; Hixson &Tinzman, 1990; King & Newmann, 2001), reflective (Hay McBer, 2000), situated (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989), and ongoing (Day, 1999; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman & Yoon, 2001). Particularly in PE, staff want to be shown how to do it and have a try for themselves before asking the children to do it.

Remember when planning your CPD not to  neglect the Teaching Assistants, the Middays, the parents and the Playground leaders. Imagine how much more skilled and motivated the children would be if the people who spend a considerable amount of time with them had the subject knowledge and the confidence to support their learning in and out of school. So, can you arrange for parents to come in and do workshops with your PE lead or someone you buy in? Can you run annual training for your MDAs on physical activity, playground games and classroom management skills? Can you arrange specific training for your Tas which focuses on all the ways they can support the member of staff leading the lessons and those individual children who need support?. Most importantly of all can you train willing Playground Leaders to lead younger children in fun, safe  activities – if you can you are developing Failing to include all of these members of your school community will diminish your provision.

In summary CPD needs research to find out what staff need; it needs a model to work from; it needs to happen on and off site and its impact needs to be measured.

Steve Busby PE consultant Bed Hons |(Human Movement) NPQH