Continued Professional Development is critical now more than ever for the Further Education professionals who will bear the weight of devising and delivering the high-quality learning experiences that will transform the next generation into an internationally competitive British economy.
What CPD actually makes a difference to teaching and learning?
Research into CPD over the decades has given us ever greater insight into what makes a difference to teaching and learning. Reports such as What professional development makes the most difference to teachers by Catherine Walter and Jessica Briggs of the University of Oxford Education Department (a report sponsored by Oxford University Press), tell us that effective teaching makes a real difference to learning. It concluded that the best CPD:
1. is concrete and classroom-based
2. brings in expertise from outside
3. involves teachers in the choice of areas to develop and activities to undertake
4. enables teaching staff to work collaboratively with peers
5. provides opportunities for mentoring and coaching
6. is sustained over time
7. is supported by effective leadership.
Where are the best free CPD resources?
Always be on the lookout for resources to improve your teaching or development towards progression in leadership or as assessor and central changes in policy (such as understanding the new vocational T-levels or GCSE gradings).
1. The Excellence Gateway is a very good starting point for teachers of adults and post-16 courses, academic or vocational.
2. OpenLearn is the website for free learning from the Open University. There are thousands of opportunities on the site from courses to study, skills to develop, subjects to explore, programmes to watch and so on. It’s all entirely free and well worth exploring. OpenLearn also carries free courses specifically for teachers, which are relevant to many ages and can be found here.
3. TED Talks are short, popular talks from experts in their field. While TED does have its critics, there is undoubtedly material of interest to teachers on the site. Access with a discerning eye, as you would when accessing any CPD from any source.
4. The DfE Website is an easy source of the major FE reports and studies which have made the news.
5. As is FENews
6. Twitter is a good source of timely and popular reports and ideas your peers are sharing, but avoid debates and develop your own list of genuinely valuable feeds to follow.
7. Your place of work! Be bold and ask to shadow fellow colleagues; take on responsibilities to support a leader in the role you’re interested in; mentor new teammates; ask to attend the next standardisation/regulatory meetings.
1. FE Advice has courses on Maths, English and core subjects for FE professionals.
2. The Teacher Development Trust Advisor website is a marketplace for school and college professionals, packed with learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
3. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASKL) offers a range of events designed for all colleagues, both members and non-members, who aspire to or are in management and leadership positions in schools and colleges.
Your college will also have a catalogue of providers’ courses.
Always check before committing to an online course that there are no hidden costs and that the course is backed by a reputable organisation. Many free online university courses will give you excellent quality learning but may not lead to any recognised accreditation. It’s well worth finding out what you can expect from a course before starting it.
Make it count!
Finally, remember the three steps of turning an idea into reality: record, reflect and implement. Even if you have just read a research paper and had a brainwave, record your reflection on how it can be implemented in your practice and keep it as evidence in your CPD folder or portfolio. When inspiration hits, make the first steps to change your practice the next day. Good luck!
Once you are ready to search for your next role, come back to us at FEjobs, the UK’s number one Further Education recruitment job board.