Tips when planning external CPD events

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Claire Bishop, Research Lead, Hatton Teaching School, describes their approach to CPD that meets the needs of the teaching profession as well as individuals

The days of continuing professional development sessions just for in-house staff after school on grey Wednesday afternoons are drawing to an end with the new approach of external, collaborative development of teachers by experts.

CPD is a cornerstone of any school that values and wants to develop its staff, but getting it right can be a challenge. Organisations such as the SSAT and Chartered College give us the opportunity to be outward looking in the ways we develop staff, opening up staff training to a world of experts and experienced teachers from whom we otherwise would not be able to learn.

However, with rival schools competing for pupil numbers and national league tables to show where we rank compared to one another, this does not lend itself to a collaborative culture for teaching. This is unfortunate as our moral purpose is to promote a love of learning and to ensure that children receive an excellent education regardless of their upbringing. CPD plays a large part of this, giving teachers the chance to come together and take back control of the direction of our profession and establish our own priorities.

My experience of organising a conference

Thanks to the SSAT Innovation Fund, my school has been focusing on creating a collaborative culture. As part of this we are hosting the Creating Excellence Conference in July, which will focus on the use of research in schools. The process of organising and promoting the conference has been both exciting and nerve-racking. Our team of teachers, senior leaders and administrative staff meet regularly to make sure that we are on track.

Twitter has played a large part in the development of our event, as it has allowed me to connect with experts in different areas from across the country. We sent out tweets explaining the purpose of the conference and asking for volunteers.

Hosting CPD for external as well as internal staff: suggestions

Some aspects of the planning that can get overlooked, but are central to your event:

  • Create a theme for your event with a good flow between the ideas or training. For example, our one-day conference starts with speakers exploring the national picture of research in education, then becomes more specific with the Institute of Physics discussing a school-wide approach to gender stereotyping. Finally, subject and phase leaders will share how they use research in the classroom on a daily basis.
  • Twitter is an invaluable tool that can be used to find speakers and promote your event; schedule your tweets using Tweetdeck so that you can send out information with none of the stress.
  • If your event is being held at school during the school day, either your guests will need to bring their DBS certificate, or you will need to have some indication that they are not allowed to wander around the school. We have a red badge system for visitors, so the relevant conference badges are on red lanyards. If possible, the conference should be in an area away from normal lessons.
  • Ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to plan the event, creating a calendared to-do list to make sure nothing gets left behind.
  • Don’t forget refreshments – tea and coffee throughout the day as well as water on tables is a must. You don’t want a group of teachers without access to a nice cuppa!
The free Creating Excellence Conference is on 4 July at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, Wellingborough. Register here.

Read more on the SSAT blog: Ring out the old, ring in the new – in CPD

Follow Claire Bishop on Twitter

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