February 2015

The know zone

  • Sixth-form scrutiny
    How are inspectors awarding the new numerical grade for sixth forms? Suzanne O’Farrell digs into the detail. More
  • Timetable for change
    Cherry Ridgway highlights the key dates for implementing the latest set of reforms and their implications for schools and colleges. More
  • Lifting the barriers
    Twilight, half-day and regional events are bringing continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to more people. More
  • Red Nose Day 2015
    Red Nose Day is back – a chance for schools and colleges to have fun and raise money to help change lives forever. More
  • Top tips when using iPads in the classroom
    The pace of adoption of iPads and other tablets into the classroom has rapidly accelerated in recent years. With this in mind, and with help from some tech-savvy teachers, we’ve put together some top tips for using iPads in the classroom. More
  • Perfect partners?
    Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt recently said that independent schools should do more to partner with state schools – how do you feel about this? Would they work for all schools? Where could they add most value? Here, ASCL members share their views and highlight the many successful partnerships between the two sectors that already exist. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk More
  • Pastures new…
    Changing schools is a chance to start afresh, leaving behind your misdemeanours and presenting yourself to colleagues in a new light. If only it were that easy. More
  • Efficiency drive
    Richard Newton Chance summarises the changes looming in the new financial year. More
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Twilight, half-day and regional events are bringing continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to more people.

Lifting the barriers

As a professional association, ASCL has a key role in engaging with a range of both members and non-members. The success of ASCL Professional Development (ASCL PD) in supporting those who take part in its CPD programmes is down to the commitment shown by those who book and participate in the many conferences, courses and consultancy activities organised each year.

In developing CPD programmes, ASCL PD works closely with the policy specialist team, independent education consultants and leading practitioners, including members with experience and expertise, to ensure that the activities developed are matched to people’s needs and are relevant. Feedback on all levels of activity helps to shape our plans and analysis of evaluation data captured at CPD events overwhelmingly indicates that ASCL PD is providing ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ CPD.

So what does this actually mean?

In her 2005 publication, An Enquiry into Continuing Professional Development for Teachers, Dr Sandra Leaton Gray describes ‘good’ CPD as having the following characteristics:

  • economical in terms of time and money
  • carefully researched, in terms of teacher needs
  • well-presented, preferably by someone with relevant teaching experience
  • giving plenty of fresh, relevant information
  • offering opportunities during the day for reflection on what was being learnt
  • likely to have immediate impact on their return to the classroom
  • likely to improve general subject knowledge and understanding
  • offering scope for later follow-up, support and networking
  • offering scope for feedback, both during the session and later on, beyond the feedback form.

Further analysis of our evaluation data showed that many participants who attended ASCL PD events in the past year wanted to engage in more professional development activity but that they faced barriers, including time and access. Talking to participants at events made it clear that the time pressure and demands of school make engagement in CPD a difficult task, however well motivated individuals are.

A challenge

So this sets us a challenge. ASCL PD needs to ensure that activity has all the ‘good CPD’, characteristics, as well as helping to remove some of the barriers.

In their research, Friedman and Phillips (2001) found that ‘access to CPD activities remains a problem for those not living near or in a major city’. ASCL PD’s approach is one of a ‘mixed model’ where some of these barriers can be broken down and professional development made more time aware and accessible. How? By having: a range of delivery options; whole day, half-day, and twilight sessions; and events organised in major cities across the country, within regions and locally within schools or colleges themselves.

Networking opportunities

Of course, engaging in CPD out of school or college gives colleagues the opportunity to network with others and share good practice, whereas delivering in school or college for staff or groups of staff from different institutions facilitates collaborative working and networking. Increasingly, ASCL PD is working with regional colleagues to develop and support a number of professional development events.

These events, mostly twilight and half-day, give participants an opportunity to hear about current developments, ask questions, and discuss and feedback on relevant issues. They reflect regional needs and emphasise the importance of building networks and working in collaboration.

These new regional events now form an annual cycle, beginning with the autumn term information conferences, spring term short sessions and the annual conference, and a new series of regional conferences in the summer term, all of which are complementary to ASCL’s full professional development programme. Through such programmes, ASCL is providing an unparalleled range of opportunities to engage with professional development activity at local, regional and national levels. 

Save the date

Dates for the regional summer conferences:

South West Tuesday 2 June 2015
London and South East Monday 15 June 2015
Yorkshire and the Humber Wednesday 24 June 2015
East and West Midlands Tuesday 30 June 2015
North West Wednesday 8 July 2015
North East Thursday 9 July 2015
East of England Tuesday 14 July 2015

Peter Kent, ASCL President, will be speaking at every summer conference. Details about the conferences, including how to book your place, will be available soon on the ASCL website: www.ascl.org.uk

Further reading:

  • Crowley, S (ed.), 2014, Challenging Professional Learning, Routledge
  • Friedman, A and Phillips, M, 2001, Leaping the CPD Hurdle: A study of the barriers and drivers to participation in continuing professional development, BERA Paper

How ASCL PD can support you locally

We recognise that schools and colleges need a range of CPD options and we aim to offer a variety. We can provide different CPD packages or bespoke sessions from twilights, half-days to full days and longer and our team of experienced consultants are able to help with virtually any area of school or college improvement or professional development.If this service may be of interest to you then please contact ASCL Professional Development on 0116 299 1122 or email consultancy@ascl.org.uk

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