CPD- Improve the teaching of individuals
Differentiation, differentiation, differentiation.... but not when it comes to CPD?
CPD is effective.
It needs to be planned carefully though, and if there is one thing there has
been too much of in education in the UK over the last decade it’s the sheer
number of initiatives.
That friendly bunch at OfSTED published a report on Good Professional
Development in Schools in March 2010. One of their central conclusions was
that CPD should be school based and focus on the specific needs within the
school. The impact of the training should be assessed, and collaborative techniques should be used
to develop practice across the school:
The core business of schools is achievement, and teaching and learning should be the main area of
development in CPD. It is surprising how often this is not the case.
Harriet Sergeant has written a disturbing report for the Centre for Policy Studies on the betrayal of
white working class and black Caribbean boys. A lack of CPD focussed on teaching and learning that
work, and a robust system for monitoring its impact can have disastrous effects on individuals and
Many teachers are resistant to change- which is probably a good thing given the amount of Snake Oil
that is out there.
Elmore (1996) has produced an important paper on this area, highlighting the observation from
American schools that the closer an initiative comes to focussing on the practice of what actually
happens inside a classroom, the less likely it is to be widely adopted. Elmore is unequivocal in his
view on the typical quality of teaching, and of schools’ attempts to improve it:
Effective teaching and learning orientated CPD, a culture within a school that is continually focussed
on improving teaching technique through experimentation with evidenced methods, co-coaching and
peer-mentoring orientated around development of those techniques with colleagues will all lead to
greater change than the typical CPD strategy of, “watch someone in the school hall for a day and just
get on with it in your lessons”.
Co-coaching of some form, collaboration and a constant drive on the principles delivered in the CPD
Nurture your experts
Change management research is clear- individuals in a community vary predictably in their
responses to initiatives.
When a change is implemented, the
degree of uptake can be reasonably
predicted using the adopter continuum
(also called the ‘change adoption
The model illustrates that there are
visionary innovators that constantly
embrace the new, followed by early
adopters who will quickly and rapidly take-up new ideas. At the other end of the spectrum there are
those individuals who are more ‘resistant’ to change.
When introducing significant change into a school, it is essential to identify those individuals who can
help drive the change- the innovators and early adopters that can, through their enthusiasm and
energy, help distribute and embed change through the institution. It is often possible to predict, with
some reliability, which group in the adopter continuum individual staff members will fall into. This
means that well planned CPD includes differentiation in the manner in which individuals in a school
or college will be supported in achieving the desired change in their day-to-day practice.
The University of Victoria in Canada offer a brilliant guide on harnessing individuals from different
areas of the adopter continuum in the pursuit of change. It is a must read in the planning of change
within any school or college. Download a PDF version here.
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So... examine the evidence
So... adopt evidence-based methods
So... enhance learning