July 2015

The know zone

  • Sixth sense
    As timetables are tweaked in readiness for the new sixth-form provision in September, schools and colleges should ensure that their 16-19 study programmes will meet tight new financial and curriculum standards, says Kevin Gilmartin. More
  • Know your numbers
    Pay progression data can reveal hidden – possibly discriminatory – trends, so it is vital to study it carefully, says Sara Ford. More
  • Making allowances?
    Pay rises could push you over the tax relief limit and into trouble with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) so check your position, warns Stephen Casey. More
  • Experience counts
    Devising your school or college’s continuing professional development (CPD) programme can seem a daunting prospect. Do you plan for your own staff to deliver, invite a facilitator in to do the work or send staff out on external courses? What are the pros and cons of each approach and which provides the best value for money? More
  • A tidal change
    The Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation (RMNEF) is a British educational charity that officers support for the natural or adopted children of Merchant Navy seafarers and professional sea-going fishers, and of crew members of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI’s) lifeboats. More
  • Extra daylight, extra opportunist thefts
    The warm summer evenings mean that everyone can look forward to spending more time outdoors. More
  • Question time
    What is the one big issue that you would like Secretary of State Nicky Morgan to tackle in this Parliament and why? What is the one burning issue that is affecting you and your school or college? Here, ASCL members share their views… More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Reflected glory?
    The head is an ambassador for the school. However, there are – to put it mildly – some dangers in over-identification between the needs of the school and its leader’s desires, according to Chris Pyle. More
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Devising your school or college’s continuing professional development (CPD) programme can seem a daunting prospect. Do you plan for your own staff to deliver, invite a facilitator in to do the work or send staff out on external courses? What are the pros and cons of each approach and which provides the best value for money?

Experience counts

Whether you choose to run your CPD in school or give staff the opportunity to work with a practitioner from elsewhere, the main ingredient is experience. Does the person leading the activity have the right experience? Are they credible? How do you know?

If someone from your own school or college is leading then you will be aware of their strengths and potential weaknesses. Remember that, in some cases, an outstanding practitioner may not be the best CPD lead. It can be very daunting delivering to your peers.

If you have chosen to develop an in-house programme using your own staff then think about how you are deciding who leads and what, if any, support those leaders may require in order to do the task effectively.

Think, too, about your own quality assurance (QA) processes. How do you go about choosing the staff who lead? Do you offer opportunities to lead to all staff? Consider how individuals are perceived by the rest of your staff and how you may feedback to them so that they can develop their skills further.

Many potential external facilitators or leads may be unknown to you. A good CPD provider will give some information about the people they have leading and, if necessary, provide references, particularly for carrying out consultancy-type activities. However, even in those cases, you still need to think about the provider’s level of experience and credibility. Word-of mouth referrals are useful; speak to other senior leaders about people they have engaged and providers they have worked with, as this can be extremely helpful in making decisions about who to approach.

Needs analysis

Planning and needs analysis is key. Having a well thought-out, needs-matched programme for your staff will engage and motivate them to participate. Ensuring that the programme is developed with them, rather than imposed, is also important for this.

In 2006, a Welcome Trust study into CPD grouped staff according to their attitudes towards CPD and characterised these as: Seekers, Believers, Sceptics and Agnostics. The results indicated that secondary senior managers believed that professional development (PD) was more strongly encouraged than classroom teachers believed.

The results underline that the key to successfully developing programmes for staff is to consult widely about what would work for them and support their work in improving student outcomes.

What is ASCL’s approach?

We start planning all of our CPD programmes in January in order for them to start in the following autumn term. One of our main sources of information is collected through our evaluation form that is given out at each event.

On return to the PD team the forms are read (thousands each year), needs noted and quantitative data analysed in order to provide invaluable information that then feeds into our programme planning cycle. Feedback from Council members and the ASCL specialists, as well as from our consultants and other ASCL staff, informs what goes into the programme as well as recommendations for who leads events.

We pride ourselves on the fact that the majority of our programme leads are current headteachers, other senior leaders and practitioners as well as ASCL’s own specialist team. More than half of our event leads are currently working in schools or colleges. Add to this our additional group of former headteachers and senior staff and we have an unrivalled team of expertise to draw from.

Decisions, decisions…

Whatever decision you make to support the development of your staff, ensure that those you choose to lead have the skills and abilities to do so effectively. A mixed-model approach as outlined on these pages in the last issue of Leader will give exposure to many different styles.

Remember, too, that ASCL is a provider of a range of support from one-day programmes to programmes lasting a year or more, all of which have been designed and developed in response to your needs

Key facts about ASCL programmes

  • During the past year, more than 7,000 colleagues have engaged with us and our evaluation studies indicate that:
  • 99 per cent rate the quality of our events as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’
  • 98 per cent rate the content as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’
  • 97 per cent find our events useful
  • 99 per cent would recommend us to other colleagues

For a full list of courses and events visit www.ascl.org.uk/pd