CPD – Now it’s personal…


Last year, I was fortunate enough to work with science teacher Bex Owen – helping her to reflect on and plan her own CPD.  Bex discussed this at 15 minute forum earlier in the year – you can read about it here.   This confirmed to me that CPD is a very personal thing – different people want different things, depending on the very specific area of their practice they are looking to develop. It’s for this reason that we should try to provide a wide range of optional and different CPD opportunities for teachers (read more about this here) – and wherever possible, ensure that these are within the context of their own subject.  These activities should also be easily accessible for teachers.  This post describes two ways in which we are planning to address this.

Subject Pedagogy Leaders

Each curriculum area now has a ‘Pedagogy Leader’.  Every INSET day, time will be given over to a ‘Subject Pedagogy Development Session’.  This session will be led by the Pedagogy Leader, and will focus on developing a particular aspect of our teaching, within the context of that subject.

The first such session will take place next week – and will focus on student effort.  I’ve recently writte about how we have updated our ‘effort rubric’ – see here.  During this session on the INSET day, curriculum teams will look at the effort rubric, from their subject perspective and consider these points:

  • Look at and discuss the effort rubric, within the context of your subject.
  • What does exemplary student effort look like in your subject? (6 key features)
  • As a subject team, what 3 things could the whole team commit to doing, to improve effort?

On the face of it, it might appear that this would be a pretty similar conversation within each team.  But when you begin to unpick it and think about it carefully – it won’t.  The way a student ‘self-checks’ a piece of work in art, will not be the same as they do in English.  Similarly, how a student responds to feedback in maths, will not be the same as how they will in PE, or drama.  Another key aspect of ‘effort’ is students taking pride and care over their work.  Again, it’s easy to see how this will be different when writing up a science experiment compared to producing a piece of work in product design.  This is why we believe that putting CPD like this back into subjects, is so important.

Personalised Professional Learning

Teaching is a really busy job, so we want to make it as easy as possible for our colleagues to engage with effective and personalised professional learning opportunities.  Whilst we have things like 15minute forums, Journal Club, Blog of the Week and research projects going on regularly, sometimes staff need something that is specific to them . This has to be something that is going to ‘work’ for each person and allow them to address their own development priorities.

In order to support colleagues with this, Andy Tharby and I have distributed a ‘CPD planning form’ to each teacher at the school.

Firstly, it asks teachers to identify their own personal development priority:


It’s important to focus on one specific aspect of your teaching, rather than trying to do too much – the idea of ‘marginal gains’.  By focusing on the development of one aspect of our teaching, and practising it in a determined way, we are far more likely to embed it into our practice.  This idea was supported by Chris Moyse during his presentation at TLT15.  Chris asks all teachers at his academy to identify and share one aspect of their teaching they are looking to develop – by writing it on a sheet, that is then displayed in their classroom.  This may be over the course of a year, or a term – that will vary from teacher to teacher.  Anyway, thanks to Chris for sowing the seeds for this idea.

Next, colleagues are presented with a range of possible optional CPD activities:



All they have to do is to tick what they think would be useful, add a few more details if appropriate and then hand it in to me.  Andy and I then take a look at them, discuss how best to support the requests from each member of staff and then get in touch with them, to plan the support.

These forms have only recently gone out to staff, but we have already done the following for staff:

  • Bought a specific book they wanted for the CPD library.
  • Put them in touch with a successful department in another school.
  • Found a suitable course for them to attend (we are not big fans of courses, but this one is being led by someone we know and trust to deliver a great day of CPD).
  • Organised for a colleague from the English department to support the development of extended writing in another subject.
  • Worked with a Curriculum Leader to arrange some ‘subject knowledge booster sessions’ for staff.
  • Arranged some coaching conversations around specific areas of pedagogy e.g. challenge and modelling.

These are all very relevant and specific to the individual teachers that requested them – a good feature of effective CPD.

Our plan is to distribute these at the start of every term.




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10 Responses to CPD – Now it’s personal…

  1. Marooney, Sue says:

    Great one shaun
    Thank you

  2. Hi Shaun,

    Some great ideas here, as always!
    I really the fact that the pedagogy leaders have:
    – a clear aspiration for pupils (i.e. increased effort)
    – a focus on improving tools and skill for formatively assessing and understanding this
    – an aim to align expectations of what’s possible and produce a clear shared goal
    – a clear subject focus with links to subject pedagogy and subject knowledge as well as a strong consideration of how students learn

    Drawing on the Developing Great Teaching report (http://TDTrust.org/dgt) I wonder if you could additionally consider which source of external support and constructive challenge each pedagogy leader could use?

    For the personalised professional learning I think you have the possibility of some great professional learning, but there is perhaps a danger that there could also be quite a lot of enjoyable activity that is, however, less likely to lead to sustainable impact.

    Perhaps you could ask all staff to clarify what aspect of students’ thinking and attainment they are trying to improve with each CPD activity? Also, following the great practice by the pedagogy leaders, what would success look like, how will they see it (through formative assessment tools), how will they sustain/refine/embed the learning over time, and where will they get facilitating support and constructive expert challenge?

    It might be, of course, that the CPD activity is intended more for career development or as part of a more general update programme about the field within which they work. However, even for this it would be good to see how the chosen activities link to bigger themes and plans, with a sense of how they will check if the approach is successful.

    I’d love to see how activities link to personal development plans, subject/department development plans and whole-school development plans, for example?

    Hope these ideas are helpful.

    Best wishes,


  3. Hi David
    Thanks for taking the time to reply in such a detailed way, with some really thought provoking points. For the PPL activities, I guess a key part of mine and Andy’s role is to help our colleagues refine their CPD requests so that it is purposeful and manageable, and as you rightly say, not just enjoyable. Purposeful in terms of their own development, but also feeding into whole school/department priorities. The manageability aspect of it is also key. We are finding that we are having to help them prune it down – better to focus on one thing, rather than lots and running the risk of diluting the impact.
    Following through the work of the pedagogy leaders, so that it is sustained is key I think. One way in which we will do this, is by getting each subject team to focus on committing to a few key changes to their practice, to bring about specific improvements to student learning i.e. ‘We will….so that….’ By keeping it focused and specific like this, we can track how it is going.
    Thanks so much for prompting our thinking – really useful.
    I look forward to discussing how it is going with you shortly!

  4. Pingback: Subject Pedagogy Development Session 1: Effort Matters | Class Teaching

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  9. Simon says:

    Hi Shaun

    I thought this was a really innovative way to approach things and we’ve been working on a similar system in our school as a result of the post. Wondered about the extent to which you guys have followed up on requests, as we’ve got a method in place but it’s far from perfect at the moment.

    Still, I’ve liked the idea enough to include it again as part of next year’s provision here so I am going to review the activities we’ve offered and see what else might go into the menu.

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