What is the purpose of CPD?

I remember having an excellent discussion during my NPQH around an activity to design the worst CPD ever. The opportunity to share ideas about different professional development we had all experienced over the course of our teaching careers brought out the full gamut of emotions. It also made me step back and be thankful that this career does put education and development at the centre of our profession. As we flipped the question later, we then had to ask: how do we make it effective, engaging and practical? That’s tricky to answer!

Last year’s Festival of Metacognition at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham was a great day, it enabled us to listen to a wide range of speakers and engage in some fascinating conversations that really prompted me to get thinking. This takes us back to the title. What is the purpose of CPD? I know what it shouldn’t be: overloading of information; no time to reflect; not stretching or box ticking. If we want to see change and a whole school approach within a school, that does require planning, time to ask or consult with staff to find out what they believe are the essential skills and knowledge for all members. Of course, there is still the place for the ‘sheep-dip’ approach; everyone has the same training because of the statutory obligations e.g. Safeguarding, PREVENT, Health and Safety, First Aid etc. In these cases it is important that everyone needs to have heard the same fundamental principles and ideas so that expectations around these frameworks are clear and the staff work as a cohesive unit. Reading Professor Robert Coe’s 2020 paper ‘The Case for Subject-Specific CPD’ argues that “investing in systematic, high quality CPD is one of the most evidence-based and cost-effective things we could do to raise attainment”. In order to call it ‘continuous’, he suggests it should be over 15 hours of professional development. The key steps are:
  1. Sustained: over two terms or longer;
  2. Content: focused on developing teacher’s knowledge;
  3. Active: opportunities to try it out and discuss as it takes a while to get it right;
  4. Supported: external feedback given and staff networks to improve and sustain;
  5. Evidence based: learning walks that test out recent CPD or training to see the impact in the classroom.
As Thinking Schools seek to agree on a common vision, common language and common tools and strategies to support the development of student metacognition, harnessing the commitment of all staff often creates a strong energy and clarity of purpose. Setting the vision, the ‘where we are going’ and the ‘why we are off there’ focuses the conversation around professional development and allows all staff to follow Robert Coe’s steps. Whatever is chosen for training and equipping needs to facilitate the ‘how’ towards the vision to ensure we all get there.

This concept of a whole staff commitment, characteristic within a Thinking School has been significantly validated by John Hattie’s most recent meta-analysis which has indicated that Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) has the strongest positive correlation with student attainment. CTE is defined as a staff’s shared belief that through their collective action, they can positively influence student outcomes, including those who are disengaged or disadvantaged (Hattie, 2016). In a world where financial resources are stretched and teacher’s time is already the most precious commodity it is even more essential to pick CPD that is active and supported. In recent analysis, the Teacher Development Trust found that, by 2021, schools’ spending on staff professional development had fallen by over 40% since 2018 in real terms.

At Thinking Matters we have created a practical, evidence-based approach to developing student metacognition. We provide professional development for educators to nurture a pedagogy that enables students to hone their cognitive capabilities and intelligent learning behaviours through the use of a range of metacognitive tools and strategies. We also offer a Drive Team lead model, essentially preparing in-house training teams who can adapt the materials to the school’s particular needs and context. The Festival of Metacognition, being held at the Eastside Rooms, Birmingham on Monday 12th June 2023, draws together those with a shared passion for developing metacognitive, self-regulating learners all in one place. Listening to insights from cutting-edge researchers and thought leaders, receiving different classroom strategies from expert practitioners and being able to meet and share ideas with other leaders and teachers from across the Thinking School Network is at its heart. To help us plan ahead with speakers and workshops, we would like to know the intended names of those attending and how many tickets you will require, in addition to your free one: FoM Tickets Required.
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