CPD: Ensuring everyone is on board...

Written by: Bethan Hindley | Published:
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When planning your whole-school CPD programmes, it is vital that staff are on board. Bethan Hindley looks at five tenets of change management and achieving staff CPD buy-in

With a shifting focus towards building career opportunities for teachers, improving staff development has never been more important. The Teacher Development Trust (TDT) has had the pleasure of working with three cohorts of exceptional leaders of CPD and teaching and learning from across the country over the last 18 months on our CPD Leadership Programme, which aims to develop future school and national champions of CPD.

The programme is challenging and developmental, inviting participants to engage critically with research and to evaluate and refine the leadership, culture and process of CPD within their setting.

Change management is a key component of the course, ensuring participants have carefully considered what is appropriate for their setting.

Participants are invited to consider a model of organisational change as developed by Armenakis and Harris, which identifies successful change recipients as having the following five key change beliefs (for a useful summary, see Hauth 2015).

Discrepancy

Staff members should recognise that there is necessity for change. Following a review of the current CPD provision in their setting against the Department for Education’s Standard for teachers’ professional development (July 2016), participants are asked to identify transformation priorities. After carrying out a whole staff survey and interviews with individuals, for example, one participant learnt that subject-specific CPD was largely delivered through one-off sessions. There was not a focused rhythm of subject-specific CPD and practitioners felt they were not able to embed new learning into their practice.

Appropriateness

Staff believe that the change is suitable to address and eliminate the discrepancy. The use, and communication, of research used to inform the change is crucial to develop the belief of appropriateness. Developing great teaching (September 2014), a expert review of international evidence into what constitutes effective CPD for teachers, and the DfE standards both stipulate that the most effective CPD is sustained over time, for at least two terms.

Having identified a need for a better rhythm of subject-specific CPD, one course participant worked with subject leaders and their teams to develop sustained, subject-specific CPD programmes for the coming academic year. These included structured, collaborative in-school activities for teachers that allowed them to refine ideas and embed approaches. Staff recognised that this change was appropriate and addressed concerns raised in the survey.

Efficacy

Staff members believe that the change can be successfully implemented – by themselves and the organisation. Staff must hold the belief that the change is possible in their organisation for the change to be successfully realised. Leaders must have an acute understanding of the context of their organisation and the challenges their staff are facing to enable staff to foster this belief.

Communication continues to be important. Carefully consider the timing of communications so that changes do not feel rushed or reactive. Gaining and acting on feedback from staff about the planned change and sharing responsibility for carrying out changes can help build this belief. For staff to be able to develop their practice, time must be allocated for reflecting on current professional behaviours, engaging with research and external expertise to consider areas for development, collaboration with colleagues, and further reflection to embed new practice. Changing behaviours takes time and focus.

Headteacher support

Staff members should feel that managers are committed to the change. By acting as a change agent, a leader demonstrates their commitment not only to the change but to their staff. Their vision for the change should be clearly communicated to allow staff to share ownership of it, meaning they are not only leading change in their organisations but empowering their staff to drive it themselves.

Leaders should then focus on the “bright spots” – what is working well that demonstrates the change is possible. Where staff are expected to change and develop their practice, leaders should also expect to do so; sharing professional learning they are undertaking and reflecting on their experiences of this learning to ensure that what they plan for their staff is appropriately challenging and well-paced.

Valence

Staff members believe they will benefit from the change. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes (DfE, July 2016). When staff recognise that professional development activities are planned to improve specific pupil outcomes and then evaluated against these outcomes, they will recognise the benefit that will come from the change in their practice that happens through engaging with professional learning.

One CPD leader in Rochdale successfully developed this belief across her school’s staff by introducing pedagogical coaching opportunities for all staff, with outcomes not related in any way to performance management. Staff were asked to identify outcomes for a group of pupils they wanted to improve and worked with their coach, using research, to address these.

  • A former maths and economics teacher, Bethan Hindley is school programme leader at the Teacher Development Trust, a national charity for effective CPD in schools. Visit https://tdtrust.org/

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