6 Practical Ways To Make Your CPD More Effective

6 Essential Practical Elements of Effective CPD

Training is big business. The reason for this is because Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is such a wide term. A school’s training budget can cover a multitude of areas, non teaching and learning areas such as: health and safety, food hygiene, seagull avoidance, first aid, fire awareness, the list goes on. The purpose of these is often to get a huge tick through some required statutory boxes. A lot of these can now be completed online and are standard packages not bespoke to schools. How much more effective would it be if food hygiene was delivered in a way that also covered lesson ideas for using food and cooking techniques to support the curriculum? I wrote a longer guide about why CPD needs to focus on teaching and learning.

There is also the holy grail of training; that which directly impacts and develops your practice whether teaching, leadership, mentoring, or the essential child protection training. Delivered by someone who has real recent experience and who knows the issues in your school.

These courses should enthuse, engage and instill you with a renewed excitement about your job. Effective CPD for Teachers

These courses should enthuse, engage and instil you with a renewed excitement about your job. You should walk away with ideas to put into practice the next day (this is why I don’t like last day of term training or Friday twilights).

Models of CPD Delivery

There are a number of ways schools provide CPD to their staff. All of which come with a cost implication. As with any investment some are great value for money, some are not, teacher toolkit has attempted to create a table outlining value for money for different types of CPD which is quite interesting but by no means exhaustive.I don’t know if a scale of effectiveness could be applied to CPD due to the complexity of the interactions and requirements involved (See quote below). This leads to vast differences in delivery of CPD.

Quality of CPD is Very Uneven

From my experience in a rather niche setting INSET, CPD, Training is only effective and worthwhile if it is bespoke to your setting. I don’t want to spend my training session thinking of ways I would need to adapt the ideas to fit, or sifting through 100 slide presentations to find a nugget of relevance. Especially if the presenters make the mistake of having page numbers. If I see “page 1 of 89” I’m off.

Since this blog was initially written the EEF have collated evidence about what makes effective CPD. There has been a lot of research on what makes CPD effective. Which in itself raises an issue:

GMC Report on Effective CPD Measuring Impact

Now generally speaking my blogs are based on my thoughts and experiences – don’t panic I do often research the background facts and sometimes even from books! I even wrote this post about the issue of research vs experience. So the next bit is what makes CPD effective with research evidence presented through the filter of my own experiences. You need to deliver training that has a strong and lasting impact.

6 Essential Practical Elements of Effective CPD

Prioritise – Teaching staff  generally get less than 30 hours of CPD time a year. Many of course will be offered or ask for additional training in certain areas. Many others will take part in CPD activities in their free time. So it is vital to identify areas that need developing. At a whole school level OFSTED might help you out with this. Is there an area of your mission statement all staff could benefit from? Is there a curriculum area your attainment is lower in? Is there an area of SEN that needs more understanding (the answer to this is yes for most schools BTW). If you try to cover too much in that 30 hours the impact will be more limited. Choose wisely.

Follow it up – Not just with an evaluation form. Look at the impact – not just the data. How have staff implemented the ideas. During the session set tasks that will be presented or looked at in a later session – maybe in teachers meetings throughout the term.

Not just handouts – Don’t just print off the presentation. Especially if you are expecting people to pay for your training. What resources are you getting from the CPD? Will they just end up in the bin or can they be used? When I deliver training I like to include a toolkit of ideas and resources that have been chosen to meet a need identified in the pre-training audit. This could be something simple like a flashcard with a checklist on. If it is teaching resources or software being given out is it usable or relevant to the setting.

The what, not the how – What teaching staff are learning is more important than how they learn it according to Musset (2010). The most effective CPD focused on content such as subject knowledge , teaching methods and gave a chance to share ideas and work collaboratively. Any in school training session should easily be able to facilitate this, also this would just require a clear purpose and structure. To make this really effective allow ideas to be practiced and followed up on. The money you save on a consultant could be used to cover teachers to collaborate.

Training is for those being trained not a chance for the trainer to show off - Teacher CPD

Immediate Feedback – This is an idea from Doug Lemov that I have used  in recent training. Training is for those being trained not a chance for the trainer to show off. Ensure your group are getting the information you need, and just like a good lesson go off plan if they need something different. An issue may arise that would have real impact if you can work on it right now. If you are running training have a range of resources to hand or in the cloud. What is the point of waiting until the end and the feedback sheet saying your training missed the point – that’s 6 hours wasted. Ask, ASK, ASK!

Build in reflection timeSmith and Yates (2012) looked at the importance of Self awareness and self reflection in learning and development. It is important to create the opportunity for people to reflect. I would suggest this is honest reflection. A good training session would allow people the time to consider this and maybe for the brave share with the group. Whilst they state the importance of mentoring in this role you could build in an activity or opportunity to support people to think about their practice.

Thank you for reading. Please add your ideas in the comments section.

6 Practical Ways To Make Your CPD More Effective


Smith and Yates. 2012 – The benefits of self-reflection

Musset 2010 – Initial Teacher Education and Continuing Training Policies in a Comparative Perspective: Current Practices in OECD Countries and a Literature Review on Potential Effects

Doug Lemov. 2012 – Practice Perfect.

Images via Upsplash

4 thoughts on “6 Practical Ways To Make Your CPD More Effective”

  1. Great piece! The Doug Lemov ideas on the needs of those being trained are very similar to Dr Tim O’ Brien’s in ‘Inner Story’.
    I sent the staff in my school my latest blog today (about recent radio programmes relating to education) and suggested they used them as a prompt for professional reflection; part of CPD.

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