Students – and so schools – clearly benefit from having well-trained, informed staff. The problem is not so much money as time. There has been a shift recently to offering training out of school time, partly because of ‘Rarely Cover’, and partly because of more general financial constraints. Fine – except that it’s still working time for teachers. An email I received this week really brought this home.
The ASE/SLC West Midlands Supporting Practical Work Conference looks really interesting; the keynote sounds intriguing and the workshops would be relevant to me and to my school. The cost is pretty reasonable; as an ASE member it would be £30. The travel costs would be less than £20 for me (not first class, I’m not George Osborne). I’m tempted to sign up.
But it’s at the weekend. My family consists of one wife, two kids, two chickens and two kittens. Losing a day at home was a consideration even before I noticed the last ‘selling point’.
There is an IMPACT award worth £150. This would be paid to my school, not to me. Why should they get paid for me giving up a day at the weekend with my family? I appreciate that it would cover travel and attendance cost – but that is already discounted because I (personally) pay to be a member of the ASE. Giving teachers time off ‘in lieu’ isn’t really practical. I strongly doubt they’d pay me supply rates for the day, or any other kind of ‘overtime’. So yet again, it comes down to the goodwill of the teachers concerned.
I want to be clear, this post is in no way a criticism of my school’s policy on CPD. My school is pretty good about external courses – obviously it’s easier when you can show it’s relevant to exams or specific needs. Understandably, twilight or weekend courses are preferred, as it saves disruption and travel costs. (Although if the Assistant Head really wants me to send a form every time I want to do any CPD, he’s going to get a lot of extra paperwork.) For example, there was no hesitation when I asked if the cost and travel to the Saturday of ASE 2012 could be covered. I didn’t ask about the two teachmeets I’ve attended in my own time – perhaps I should have done. Instead, it’s about wider expectations.
Who should have the responsibility for CPD? If we want to think of ourselves as professionals, then it must be done at a personal level, albeit with support from our school or workplace. Equally, a school must ensure a certain level of professional practice for all employees, and provide training for all, matched to local procedures or needs. I’m sure there are legal definitions of these, by the way – but I don’t know what they are offhand. Perhaps I should.
School-delivered CPD is rarely relevant or informative for everyone, but usually we all have to sit through it. How much of ‘INSET’ time is actually spent on useful training for us as individuals? Personally, I think I get far more out of my own, self-directed CPD. Perhaps my boss disagrees. I have no problem with an expectation that as professionals we should maintain our own professional knowledge. I can even see that we should be responsible for the cost of that, for example But I do object to our schools getting a practical or financial benefit out of use giving up half of our weekend.
I will soon be writing about my own CPD in detail, as well as linking to my reflections on it. In the meantime, I’d be very interested to hear people’s opinions and experience of paying for their own CPD, and how their extra time commitment is recognised in the workplace.